Used to be a pound of ground beef, package of taco seasoning and a dozen hard taco shells was all you needed to make a kid (and husband) happy. Then came Chipotle, and all bets were off. Even a youngster’s taste is so much more sophisticated today when it comes to Mexican food.
The good news is fast food doesn’t have to come from a takeout window. Marinate the chicken strips for this spicy taco dish before you leave for work or head out to the pool, and dinner will come together almost as fast as if you used an Old El Paso taco kit. But guaranteed, your family will like it way better. If you can’t find cotija, a hard, crumbly Mexican cheese, substitute feta or grated Parmesan.
Mexican Lime Fried Chicken Tacos
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts, sliced
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 ¼ pounds chicken tenders
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
15 ounce can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ corn or taco-size flour tortillas
Shredded purple cabbage, crumbled cotija, lime wedges, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce for serving
Make marinade: In bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, chipotle peppers, green onions, 2 teaspoons chile powder and ½ teaspoon of salt. Place chicken in large zip-top bag and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade.
In large skillet (I used a 12-inch cast-iron pan), heat 3 inches peanut or vegetable oil over high heat to 350 degrees. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
In shallow bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, remaining teaspoon chile powder and 2 teaspoons salt. In second bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, egg and adobo sauce, and in a third bowl, the remaining 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin and the white pepper and oregano. Dredge each chicken tender in the first flour mixture, dip in evaporated milk mixture, and dredge in the second flour mixture. You may need to fry in two batches. Note: Your fingers will get very sticky.
Once all the tenders have been coated, carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and juices run clear. Maintain a frying temperature of 330 to 340 degrees at all times. Drain chicken on the wire rack.
Place 1 or 2 chicken tenders on each corn tortilla and top with cabbage and cotija. Serve with lime wedges, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce.