Saturday, October 20, 2007

OldRoses' Blackened Chicken

My host for the impromptu dinner party is one of those rare people who likes spicy food. I decided to risk making my blackened chicken dish for him. I offered to make something “Cajun style” but after reviewing the recipe, I realized that it also has elements of Mexican cooking making the dish more like fusion cuisine.

The recipe was originally an appetizer. I’ve made changes to it that make it a main dish. I’ll give you the original recipe and also make note of the changes that I’ve mad.

Instead of Pico de Gallo, I use regular Pathmark salsa, medium heat. It’s all natural, no additives or preservatives and very tasty. I mix the chicken into the salsa instead of topping the chicken with the salsa. I use flour tortillas instead of mini taco shells. My personal preference is for the Monterey Jack cheese. I like the contrast of the cool, creamy cheese with the spicy chicken. And I like to top it all off with shredded lettuce and chopped raw onion.

Verdict: Yum! This one’s a keeper!

Blackened Chicken Mini Tacos

2 ripe medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
⅛ teaspoon salt
Dash sugar
4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
4 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 teaspoons paprika
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
24 mini taco shells or scoop-shaped tortilla chips
Finely shredded spinach or lettuce
Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Dairy sour cream or guacamole
¾ teaspoon ground red pepper

For Pico de Gallo: combine tomatoes, red onion; cilantro; ⅛ teaspoon salt, and the sugar. Mix well. Cover; chill for several hours or overnight.

Cut chicken breast halves into ¾-inch-wide strips. Combine black pepper, paprika, dry mustard, red pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a plastic bag. Add chicken to the bag, shaking to coat. Arrange coated chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Using two forks, pull chicken apart into pieces.

To crisp taco shells, arrange on a baking sheet and bake 5 to 7 minutes or until warm and crisp. Serve chicken in taco shells. Top tacos with Pico de Gallo, spinach or lettuce, cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese, and sour cream and/or guacamole.

Makes 24

Compost: tomato and onion skins, cilantro stems

Recycle: salsa bottle, seasonings bottles

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