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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brisket Galore and a Guest Post! (Ann's Shredded Chicken Tacos)

Tip for life: if anyone ever asks you to join them to an all-you-can-eat brisket cook-off against several of nyc's finest BBQ joints at one of your favorite bars, you always say yes. Jimmy's No. 43, a great place for well crafted beers and a big supporter of the slow food movement, hosts several food events every weekend.They're having a duck-off next weekend. Mmmm....

And there are two new things about "Mmm...Toast". First of all, we have our very first guest post! Ann Erickson, my old roomie and close friend from Illinois Wesleyan University is a fellow foodie, and was kind enough to share her fabulous recipe for shredded chicken tacos. I have yet to try it myself, but I promise that's something I'm going to rectify soon. 

The second new thing is, everyone can comment on my blog now! Yay! I finally figured out how to change the settings on my blog, so those few followers I have who've been dying to tell me things, now you can. Now let's get to the food.

This is Fatty 'Cue's entry. A delicious brisket sandwich with pickled onions, cilantro, a little coleslaw on a hawaiian roll. I'd like to say that the sandwich entry is a bit of a cheat, because this competition is about the brisket, but damn it was a good sandwich. And I've always wanted to go to Fatty 'Cue. Now I have even more reasons why. This sandwich, and the cute guy doling out the 'cue.  =)

This was an entry by the cutest lady named Emma, who wasn't part of any restaurant whatsoever. She just made her own brisket and offered it up to hungry patrons. I'd love to say it was wonderful, because she was so adorable, but while the meat was incredibly soft, it had almost no flavor. The coleslaw was good, though.

Jon is trying to figure out which three entries he liked the best. He wouldn't let me look at his choices. Party pooper. 

I know this seems like a mish-mash of meat, but there are actually two different kinds of briskets here. One was from a Tennesse joint, Mr. Bobo, nice but a bit stringy, one's the Fatty 'Cue sandwich (delicious, as we already know), and Ribs From Within. One of my favorites, soft, great flavor, but a bit on the too fatty side (I know, that doesn't seem possible).

Here is the entry that won 1st place (The Kitchen NYC), and the brisket that won audience's favorite (Waterfront Ale House). The Kitchen's is a wagyu brisket with pickled radish, yuzu, and some other accoutrement I can't remember. I chose Waterfront's as my top pick. Great straight-forward brisket. They also had a mind blowing pastrami with house-made mustard (on top of their brisket above). 

Such a good time. And the embarrassing thing is: we had brunch before coming here. So essentially, we ate two HUGE full meals within about three hours. I even got seconds of some of the briskets. Yup, we're awesome. And now, without further ado, here are Ann's delectable chicken tacos. (I'll be back soon with a few dishes of my own to share with you guys.)

Shredded Chicken Tacos (By Ann M. Erickson)

So to say I love Mexican food is an understatement. I grew up in a south suburb of Chicago, ensconced in some of the best authentic Mexican food around-- not just in restaurants, but in the homes of some of my dearest friends. I have tried to replicate many of the recipes made by those wonderful mothers who insisted that I eat every time I came over, and I have even tried to make healthy versions, with mixed success. These tacos were inspired by a chicken flauta making session at my best friend's house. I wanted to make something almost as delicious, but less greasy and with my favorite taco toppings--- here you have it, spicy shredded chicken tacos!

Package of boneless chicken breasts (about 1.25 lbs)
1 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper 
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp white onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp olive oil
Package of corn tortillas
Mexican cheese
1 avocado
Other toppings as you choose.

You start out with three large boneless chicken breasts. I like butterfly them just for ease of having well-seasoned meat and quicker cooking, but if I am lazy, I will just season the breasts and throw them in the stove. (Here is a pretty good tutorial on how to butterfly chicken breasts:

Once the meat is ready, rub it in kosher salt, black pepper, and then again in red pepper flakes, white onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, and cayenne pepper. It sounds like a ton of seasonings, but I promise it balances out. Drop about two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and lay the chicken pieces in the skillet. Cook at medium heat.

Once the chicken is cooked all the way through (no pink when split open!), place pieces of chicken into a metal or pyrex bowl. Then, using two forks, shred the chicken breast. Using one fork to hold the meat down and the other fork to pull the meat away in shredded pieces seems to be the best way to get this done.

Once all the chicken is shredded, put it back in the pan and mix in a small can of tomato paste. Taste here for seasonings-- if it needs more salt or spice for your taste, feel free to add! Cook the mixture together for a couple of minutes on medium heat while warming up tortillas on another pan. 

Top with your favorite taco toppings-- I had avocados and a blend of Mexican cheeses to top them with, but feel free to add salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, or lettuce.

If you wanted to do the flauta version, you could pour vegetable oil into another pan--- about an inch deep-- and roll some of the chicken mixture in the corn tortillas. Drop a few flautas in the oil at a time, and fry them until the outsides are crispy. Delicious with guacamole!

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