This meal was based around the need to use half an avocado and one tomato...both were perfectly ripe and ready to use, and ignoring them would mean wasting them. So after deciding to make a salsa, and to char the tomato for some extra flavour I had to figure out what to serve it with.
Something warm, spicy and hearty was called for, as it was snowing and cold outside...braised chicken thighs, spicy and slow cooked until falling apart, served with a warm tortilla and topped with the salsa and some plain Greek yoghurt fit the bill.
There was about half a cup of chicken stock in the fridge, and some chick peas in the freezer, so I added those in as well.
The only words left are all gone!
First up, get the chicken going as it takes a while to cook. I have a package of Mexican seasoning that I was given, and I used that to season the chicken. It has quite a kick to it. It is a blend of dried sweet peppers, onions, garlic, chili pepper, jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley and basil.
Combine the spices:
3 tablespoons Mexican seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Rub the spices onto 6 chicken thighs, making sure all sides are coated.
In a hot pan, using a bit of olive oil, brown both sides of the chicken.
Remove the chicken and set aside.
In the same pan, add a bit more olive oil, and add:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Continue to cook over a medium low heat, stirring often, and adding a bit more oil if the onions start to stick.
When the onions start to soften, add:
1/2 cup chicken stock
Continue to cook until the chicken stock has almost reduced away, stirring to loosen the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the browned chicken thighs back to the pan.
1 x 28 ounce can of crushed or pureed tomatoes
Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer and leave to cook until the chicken is tender enough to shred easily.
Shred the chicken, using two forks, and then add:
3/4 cup chick peas
Allow the chick peas to heat through, then taste and adjust seasoning.
While the chicken is braising, you can make the salsa.
Slice, and season lightly with salt and pepper:
Cook in a very hot pan, with just enough olive oil to prevent sticking, until both sides of the tomato slices are charred.
This will be smoky, so be prepared for a smoke alarm or two to go off!
Remove the tomato slices from the pan and place them onto a cutting board.
Remove the skin, it will just peel off.
Roughly chop the tomato.
the chopped charred tomato
1/2 avocado, diced
lime juice, avocado oil, salt and pepper to taste
Serve the shredded chicken in a bowl, topped with a generous portion of the salsa, and a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yoghurt. I also served warm tortillas on the side, but you can serve rice or cornbread. A sprinkling of cheese on top is optional.
- You can buy a Mexican seasoning blend, or make your own.
- My chicken thighs were boneless, skinless. You could use pork shoulder or butt to make this recipe; it will take longer to cook, and should be covered while it is braising so that the liquid does not all evaporate. Consider cutting the meat into smaller chunks, to increase the surface that is rubbed with the spices, and so to increase the flavour, as well as shorten the cooking time.
- I used olive oil to cook the chicken and onions, but if you have avocado oil, use that.
- I had a can of whole tomatoes, but I used a hand blender to puree it as that was the consistency I wanted. Pissatta can also be used.
- If you want to turn this into a soup then increase the amount of chicken stock.
- Any beans can be used...red or white kidney, black or whatever you have on hand.
- Corn can be added. If you have grilled corn on the cob, consider adding that to the chicken or the salsa.
- The pan that the tomatoes are charred in needs to be smoking hot in order to achieve the charring. It will be smoky, and the liquid from the tomatoes will spit at you, but the flavour is worth it. The sweetness of the tomato is intensified, and the charred flavour adds another element to the salsa.
- Another option for the tomatoes is to place them on a baking sheet in a 400F oven, and bake until they char. You can also place them cut side down under a broiler until the skin chars.
- Consider adding some chopped cilantro to your salsa.
- The chicken can be frozen once it is cooked.