Charred chunks of chipotle chicken (alliteration what what) top this Spicy-Smoky Chicken Taco Salad of brown rice, lettuce and avocado.
A twist on the classic Pico de Gallo, with pickled chillies instead of fresh, provides the spiky dressing, and a dollop of sour cream cools and soothes. The perfect thing for lunch, whether you’re in the office, at the beach, nursing a hangover, dreaming of the Winter, dreaming of the Summer or some combination of the above. I’m doing all of them.
Smoke is one of my favourite seasonings. Nothing quite gets me salivating like the smell of something charring ever so gently over a flame. Ideally, I would have some epic barbecue set up, and a burly gentleman to constantly tend the fire. But my burly gentleman has other things going on, so I have to get creative about bringing that smoky goodness into my kitchen in other ways.
At the moment, I’m obsessed with canned Chipotle chillies in Adobo. Chipotle chillies are dried, smoked jalapenos, and adobo is a Mexican sauce with tons of spices and flavours. The smoked chillies are cooked into the sauce, and the resulting mix is hot-sweet-tangy-and decidedly smoky. This sauce is basically my sriracha – it’s good with everything. It imbues everything it touches with heat and smoke and tang, rendering my lack of a barbecue totally moot.
This taco salad is a great example the way I like to eat. It’s really simple to prepare, which is important. Every element is packed with flavour and texture, so I’m interested in every bite. And the leftovers are just as exciting and enticing as the original. Pack all this into a tortilla, and you’ve got a great lunch. Reheat the rice, stir through the pico de gallo and top with the chicken and salad to breath some new life into things. Or you might just eat it all in the first sitting. Which is totally cool too.
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 chipotle chillies in adobo
- 1 lime
- sea salt
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 little gem lettuces, washed and torn
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tomato
- 4 pickled chillies
- ½ small red onion
- ½ bunch coriander (cilantro), to make about ½ cup chopped
- 1 lime
- Slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, so you have two thin escalopes. Place them into a small bowl. Finely chop the chillies in adobo, and add them to the chicken, along with the juice of your lime and a big pinch of salt. Toss around to coat, and set aside to marinade for around 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pico de gallo. Remove the watery seeds from the tomato, and finely dice the flesh. Chop the chillies, onion and coriander into fine dice, about the same size as your tomato pieces. Place everything in the bowl and squeeze over the lime juice. Stir and set aside.
- Heat a cast iron pan over a medium heat, and when it's hot, add the chicken. Cook for around 5 minutes a side, or until charred on the oustide, and cooked through. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes, and then slice into strips.
- To assemble your salad, build a bowl with brown rice at the bottom, followed by a pile of cherry tomato halves, a mound of lettuce, some sliced avocado, as much chicken as you want, plenty of pico de gallo and a spoonful of sour cream.
- Toss with your fork and then eat!