Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Mexican chipotle chicken salad with avocado

With a little help from my friends: KANKUN chipotle sauce, Don Agustin tequila, and agua fresca de Jamaica from the Cool Chile Company
Summer's here and the time is right for eating salads in the street.

Or, you know, in your kitchen/dining room. Wherever.

Some people make a big deal about how the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana (it was, you know).

What they don't talk about as much as that the chef, Caesar Cardini, was actually Italian, or that he was based in California but opened a restaurant just south of the border because the US had the whole Prohibition thing going on at the time.

But this salad weather we've been having got me thinking about a Rick Bayless recipe I've been meaning to rip off: chicken with avocados and chipotles.

Rick didn't intend this to be a salad. His recipe is more of a snack/taco filling. But I think this makes an awesome summer chicken salad, and shows you that Mexican food doesn't have to be heavy and stodgy.

Rick's recipe uses diced chipotles en adobo, which you can get from La Costena. If you do this, you have to dice the chiles very fine, otherwise you'll get random smoke-bombs while you're eating.

To make it easier to distribute the chipotles more evenly, you can make a chipotle sauce by combining a tin of chipotles en adobo, a tin of tomatillos, and a couple cloves of garlic.

I didn't have any tomatillos on hand. However, I did have a fresh bottle of KANKUN chipotle sauce, which is awesome. Basically, this stuff tastes exactly like a homemade Mexican chipotle sauce.

For the chicken, I poached some chicken breasts as I would for carnitas de pollo except I added some sliced carrot and potato.

When the chicken was done and shredded, I chopped up some romaine lettuce and avocados (do the avocados at the very last minute so they don't oxidize).

I also added some green tomatos (NOT tomatillos, which are actually not tomatoes at all but really a kind of gooseberry), because I have kind of a thing for Mary Louise Parker.

I don't wanna have dinner with you. You're covered in BEES!
I tossed everything together with the chicken, carrots and potatoes.

Rick Bayless says this should be topped with raw white onions, but I don't like raw white onions, so I made up a white onion version of Yucatecan Pink Pickled Onions:

Cebollas en escabeche

1 white onion
1 habanero, fresh or dried
6 allspice berries
10 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
120 ml white wine or cider vinegar


Peel and thinly slice the onion.
Make a 1 cm slit in the habanero. (You can use more habaneros if you like it hot!)
Put the onion, habanero, spices, oregano, and vinegar in a bowl and add just-boiled water until the onion is covered by at least 1 cm.
Steep for about four hours.

Drain the onions, fish out the habanero and, if possible, the peppercorns and allspice.
Transfer to a serving bowl.

I served the salad covered with KANKUN (which I used as a salad dressing - seriously, it worked!) and with some sliced sourdough bread on the side.

Sourdough bread is kind of like a Guadalajaran bread called birote, but you could use a baguette or crusty white bread or (of course) fresh hot corn tortillas as well. 

For a drink I decided to keep with the summer thing and make a traditional agua fresca

Aguas frescas are non-alcoholic drinks made by steeping something in boiled water. There are lots of aguas frescas. Probably the most famous is horchata, which is made with ground rice and almonds, but I chose the hibiscus flower water or agua fresca de Jamaica

You can get this from the Cool Chile Company.

Instructions are on the bag, but what you do is combine half the bag with 1.5 L of just-boiled water and 150g of sugar, give it a good stir and le it steep over night. 

The next day, sieve it and serve!

I decided to make mine alcoholic by adding a shot of Don Agustin tequlia!

Because YOLO!

(I can't believe I actually wrote "YOLO". I feel like such a douche.)