Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Carpenter's Tacos

This would be the older couple who lived at the end of the street Carpenters. As opposed to...bricklayers or sheetrock finishers or roofers.
He was retired from Bell Helicopter. She was...what do you call a Texas Southern Belle? 'Cause you know they ain't doing it the way the rest of us do it. Texas...belle? I guess. I can't believe I don't know that. But she was thoughtful and gracious and every time she visited her daughter in California, she brought me back a bottle of champagne (sparkling wine) from the local vineyard.
The neighborhood street parties that caused such a stir? (Saving for later...they'd never heard of chicken stew. And dove wrapped in bacon on my grill.) For football games and this was Texas and Troy Aiken was on every other billboard for about TEN MILLION MILES, we'd have Kirk's Cornbread, and Mr. Carpenter would make these tacos. After the first time, I offered to come help because...for 40 people? Which is what we ended up with by the time everyone's family showed up? YOU NEED HELP. And it was a great learning experience which most of my recipes have been.
Then, we had an auction at my kids' Alabama school, and another parent and I got together and auctioned off a Texas Sunset River Cruise. I made these, packed them in a cooler with a microwaved wet towel in a ziplock bag, and served them, Kirk's Cornbread, salsa and chips, and Cafe Iguana margaritas. It was a the tune of about $1800. For the school, thank you very much.

So here are the Carpenter's Tacos.

*6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3 pounds Boston Butt)
*10 fresh jalapeno peppers
*1 large onion
*1/4 cup ground chili blend (this is my Top Hat, from Pendery's in Fort Worth) or 1 package taco seasoning mix
*4 large potatoes
*Green onions
*Grated cheddar cheese
*Flour tortillas

Put the chicken breasts and about one cup water in a covered saucepan and simmer 20 minutes, until chicken is done. Cool. In a blender, puree the pepper and onion in the chicken cooking water. Dice the chicken. Return the chicken and pepper/onion mix to the saucepan, add the chili blend and simmer until most of the water is cooked out. In the meantime, small dice the potatoes and fry them CRISP in vegetable oil. (Yes. It's okay to use frozen O'Brien potatoes.)
To assemble the tacos and this can be done ahead of time, just wrap each taco in foil: Heat a black skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lay a flour tortilla on the griddle, leave it about 30 seconds and then flip it. It should puff slightly, at which point you fold it in a clean dish towel. (You're not browning the tortillas, just warming and softening them. Keep them covered.) Put about 1/4 cup chicken down the center of each tortilla, top with fried potatoes, minced green onion and cheese. Serve with the usual suspects: salsa and sour cream.
A thing I picked up later: We have a wonderful little couple in Athens AL who get up every morning and make homemade corn and flour tortillas. Taco Blanco. And when THEY make tacos, the smear about one teaspoon guacomole down the center of each tortilla before assembling the taco. This works. NOT A LOT of guacamole. Just a smear.


melissa said...

Guac is food of the gods. With fresh lime juice and comino...mmmm.

That's a great taco recipe.

City Girl said...

The tableside guac service at Rosa Mexicana in NYC is to DIE for!