Happy Taco Tuesday! This week on #CookWithMad we’re slingin’ homemade chicken adobo tacos that will show up your friends’ bar tacos any Tuesday. They’re delicious and simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. I’m sharing my recipe for these tacos and teaching you a crucial technique. This technique can be applied to chicken as well as all other meats, with the exception of fish. It’s highly effective and will transform your cooking if you follow my simple steps. We could call this Technique Tuesday, although it’s not quite as catchy as Taco Tuesday. Nevertheless, you’ll want to keep reading for this simple chicken adobo taco recipe and the secret to better meat every time!
Chicken Tacos + All The Things
When it’s taco night, I can’t just make tacos and be done with it. Unless I’m really really in a rush. The essentials are almost always tacos, guacamole and chips, and a mezcal drink. All we’re missing every week is a mariachi band. The drink recipe will be up on the blog soon so make sure to check back. But for now, you can snag my chicken adobo tacos and guacamole recipe below!
Buy Chicken Thighs
Why are chicken breasts so popular? Nine times out of 10 they’re bland, tough, and dry. My chicken of choice is always a whole chicken since they’re cheap, easy, and give you lots of meat. But the easiest chicken for me to prepare is boneless skinless chicken thighs. Normally, just say the words “boneless” or “skinless” and I’ve checked out. However, I’m totally biased when it comes to chicken thighs. It’s dark meat, so the possibility of them drying out is cut in half as opposed to chicken breasts. They’re also muuuuch more flavorful than breasts. It’s a no brainer for me.
The Salt Blanket/ Nap Technique
No gimmicks here, my friend. This is a technique you need to keep in the forefront of your mind anytime you’re prepping most meats. Don’t gloss over this step! Here it is:
Give your meat a good salt blanket. Then let it nap in the fridge.
What do I mean by salt blanket? Simply imagine you’re wrapping up your chicken in a nice blanket of salt. You wouldn’t be stingy and give your newborn baby a super thin blanket. So go full on Salt Bae. It’s not an exact measurement, just eyeball it. Whatever you do, don’t under-salt the chicken. At the moment you feel like you’ve over salted the chicken you probably nailed it. After the chicken takes a few hours nap in the fridge (uncovered), the salt will have seasoned the chicken and locked in the moisture. Sounds counter intuitive but trust me; it works!
This, y’all, is gonna change your cooking game. If you thought you couldn’t get juicy, flavorful chicken before (especially with chicken breasts!), this is your saving grace. Save it in your notes. Write it on your refrigerator. Tell your friends. You can apply this salt blanket/ nap technique to most meats, except fish. It’s too delicate for this. However, this technique will give you meat that tastes just as good, if not better, than a juicy piece of meat at a restaurant. It’s what changed cooking meat for me.
This method is technically called “pre-salting.” And while the culinary world is split down the middle on this technique, I’m on team Salt Blanket.
As far as a marinade goes, you don’t necessarily need to marinate chicken thighs for forever like you would a really tough piece of meat. They’re already tender and juicy, so basically you’re just trying to impart a little more flavor. You only need to marinate the chicken for an hour in the fridge, covered in adobo sauce. This is the chicken’s second nap of the day.
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Homemade Flour Tortillas
I double dog dare you to make your own flour tortillas. There’s a small list of things that are really tasty with a few ingredients and this is one of them. They’re loads better than store bought, which I’ll probably never purchase again. Not only do they taste better, they’re seriously one of the easiest things to make. Mix flour, lard, water, and salt together in a bowl, divide into little balls, roll out balls into tortillas and cook in a cast iron pan for less than a minute! They last at least 4-5 days in the fridge. Need to reheat them? Toss them back in a hot pan for a few seconds. Easy peas. I’m serious. Make your own tortillas and then Instagram them so all your friends think you’re a magician.
Don’t Forget the Toppings!
Some days when I’m not feeling it, I’ll go super simple with cilantro, cheese, guac, and a squeeze of lime. Then there are days I want a killer flavor bomb taco. That’s when I make my own adobo sauce. The recipe is super simple and can be done lickety split in the blender. The recipe for this tasty adobo sauce can be found below. Here are a few more ideas for taco toppings:
- sliced avocado
- sliced radishes
- shredded cheddar cheese or crumbled queso fresco
- sour cream
- salsa (my adobo recipe or store-bought)
- sliced onion (raw or griddled)
- sliced jalapenos or serranos
- lime juice
Variations for Chicken Adobo Tacos
Chicken: Let’s say you’re not into dark meat or you need to use up some chicken breasts – go for it! The salt blanket technique is especially important for boneless skinless chicken breasts since they’re typically known for drying out and lacking in flavor. Don’t skip this crucial salt blanket step.
Another variation for the chicken is cooking it in an instant pot or crock pot. In my opinion, I don’t think chicken is very tough so I err on the side of not using an Instant Pot or slow cooker. I see these as tools to break down tough, hard foods. Chicken just doesn’t fall into that category. However, I’ve seen people slow cook their chicken and love it. Try it and see what works for you. Nobody’s stoppin’ you!
Oh, and if you’re really into grilling, fire that baby up! My husband grilled our chicken a few weeks ago on his Weber and the flavor was just incredible. The reality is I’m not even close to touching a grill at this point in my food journey. I’ll let you know when I get there so I can share my tips and techniques! Oh, and he also threw in a whole onion in the coals. Yum.
Flour tortillas: If you’re not feeling it and you just want something quick and easy, I won’t judge if you pick up flour tortillas from the store. Obviously they’re not the same tortilla, but you do you!
Guacamole: Maybe all your avocados turned brown inside except for one. Been there. But no worries! Just mash up what you have with Wholly Guacamole, add a little lime juice, salt, and onion to taste and you’ve got yourself a doctored up store bought guacamole. No one will know the difference.
Enjoy These Tacos All Week Long
Okay, maybe not THAT long, but you can easily eat these at least 3-4 days in a row. Especially if you cook enough chicken. Nothing’s better than having a bangin’ lunch at work (or home) that you look forward to. These heat up really well in a microwave. Just hold off on the cold toppings until after heating and you’re on your way to taco EVERY DAY.
A Few of My Favorite Ingredients & Kitchen Tools
I’m picky about what I use in my kitchen, so I’m giving you a quick list of brands I love purchasing from. You can click the links below to take you straight to their sites!
Springer Mountain Farms Chicken: I can find their chicken a stone’s throw away from my house. Their chicken is the best I’ve ever had and their prices are right!
David’s Kosher Salt: The best kosher salt if you’re into that. It feels good in your hands and seasons perfectly. It’s hard for me to find in stores but I simply order it online.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet: I advocate having several cast iron pans in your kitchen. They can cook just about anything, and they’re perfect for these chicken tacos.
Weber Charcoal Grill: The most bang for your buck when it comes to grills. Charcoal grills are a little more effort than gas but boy are they worth it. The taste is unmatched.
Chicken Adobo Tacos Recipe
For the chicken:
2 packs (1-2 lbs each) boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp kosher salt (more if needed)
1 can chipotles in adobo sauce
For the adobo sauce:
1 can chipotles in adobo
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp lime (approx. 1 lime)
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp fish sauce
For the guacamole:
3 ripe avocados
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 small onion or 1/2 shallot, small diced
Everglades Rub (from Publix)
1 seeded jalapeno, small diced
For the flour tortillas (recipe adapted from Rick Bayless):
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
5 Tbsp lard or vegetable shortening
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c warm water
For the chicken:
On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil, salt chicken thighs liberally (give them a good “salt blanket”) on both sides. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours (the first nap). Transfer chicken thighs to a large bowl and cover with whole can of chipotles in adobo. Toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour and up to 4 hours (the second nap). Thirty minutes before cooking, set out the bowl of chicken thighs on the counter (the third nap).
Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp canola oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Add 1/2 the chicken thighs to pan. Let cook, undisturbed, until the edges begin to look cooked. Use a sturdy spatula to flip chicken thighs. Cook until internal temperature reads 160 degrees. Remove from pan to cutting board and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Shred with forks or use a chef’s knife to cut against the grain into thin strips.
For the adobo sauce:
In a blender, add all ingredients and pulse until smooth. Add salt to taste.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients with a fork until desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, and Everglades Rub to taste. If the guacamole isn’t tangy enough, add more lime juice.
For the flour tortillas:
In a measuring cup, add warm water and salt and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add flour and lard. Pinch lard into the flour with fingertips until fully incorporated. Add salt water mixture to flour mixture and stir with a fork until just incorporated. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until a soft ball forms, approximately 2 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap from dough. Using a knife or bench scraper, divide dough ball into 12 equal portions. Cover with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough in a disc-shape until approximately 7 inches in diameter.
Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add flattened tortilla to skillet and cook for 30-45 seconds or until puffy. Flip over and cook for 20-30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook the tortillas or they’ll become crispy and not pliable. Transfer cooked tortilla to a plate and cover with a clean towel. Repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking them on top of each other as they finish.
On a plate, lay out your tortillas side by side. Place a spoonful of chicken in the middle and add whatever toppings your little heart desires! Go to town on those tacos and be happy you did that “salt blanket/ nap” thing.