Easy chicken crisp shell tacos

easy chicken taco shells
Some times when you take your children shopping with you they like to ask for things they may not normally be allowed to eat. Breakfast cereal that has more sugar than actual cereal, strange plastic looking loosely termed cheese slices, all of the confectionary section and crisp taco shells… they always want crisp taco shells.

The tacos of my childhood, these things were about as culinary adventurous as my mother would get… although she would never use any kind of Tex-Mex spice mix no no no. That was way to ethnic for her (herself the child of Polish and German immigrants). Avocado? I didn’t even know what an avocado was when I was a child. Salsa? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Nope, my mother would make a beef and gravy number with grated tasty cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, grated carrot and sliced tomato all placed on the table in bowls for us to sort ourselves out. And we damn well loved it.

But crisp taco shells do have a very fundamental design flaw of shattering like dropped glass with the first bite. That’s right, they are almost impossible to eat with out pieces of taco and filling falling and consequently adorning much of your upholstery. How could that one get through the defenses? My bet is someone at the “Edible Foods Consideration Bureau” was defo napping on the job when that application came through.

These things are superfluous to their own cause.

The inability to actually be eaten aside, crisp taco shells do own a special bit of property in my heart and every now and then the time comes around again that I will crumble to the pleading of my children (and that little voice inside me that the doctor keeps telling me will go away if I’d just take the medication she has prescribed, but it really upsets my stomach so I feed it to my cat) and put the crisp taco shells into the shopping basket, and then onto the evenings dinner menu and back into my heart… and all over the table… and a bit on the floor too.

This is one of those things your can do pretty quickly if you have some left over roast chook (chicken) from last nights dinner or you could also very easily cook up a couple of chicken breasts and use them. S-C-I-E-N-C-E.

Fry you're chopped chicken. That's pretty easy
Fry you’re chopped chicken. That’s pretty easy
My Tex-Mex spice mix is also pretty easy to make. Seba keeps it real in the back ground
My Tex-Mex spice mix is also pretty easy to make. Seba keeps it real in the back ground
Add your spice mix and a little splash of something wet. That's pretty easy too
Add your spice mix and a little splash of something wet. That’s pretty easy too
Put it on the table with some crisp taco shells and a few other bits and pieces. That's all still pretty easy
Put it on the table with some crisp taco shells and a few other bits and pieces. That’s all still pretty easy

CHOPPED CHICKEN TACOS in the crisp shells (enough for 10 or so tacos)

½ roast chicken, 2 cooked chicken breasts or similar equivalent of whatever meat you got, picked from the bone and chopped
½ onion, diced
2 tablespoons Tex-Mex spice mix (recipe follows)
A splash of chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper
10 or so crisp taco shells
Shredded iceberg lettuce, grated carrot, grated tasty cheese, tomato salsa (recipe will magically appear here very shortly) and hot sauce to serve

• Heat your tacos according to the instructions that I hope are on the packaging.
• Heat a splash of oil in a pan over medium flame. Add your chopped meat and onion sauté for a minute or two.
• Add Tex-Mex spice mix and cook out for another minute.
• Add a splash of chicken stock to moisten and make it kinda saucy, and cook out for one more minute.
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
• That is now done and you are left standing there staring at it wondering how that could have been so easy.
• Close your mouth before a passing fly makes it his new home and get that shit on the table homie!

TEX-MEX SPICE MIX

¼ cup each dried thyme, oregano and ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes (or more if you like it hotter)

• Mix it all together and store extra in an air tight container for your next Tex-Mex feast. See, pretty easy eh.

Busted ass taco shell glory. I generally end up with a big pile of taco chips, meat and salad which I savour when my tacos are done
Busted ass taco shell glory. I generally end up with a big pile of taco chips, meat and salad which I savour when my tacos are done

Bad-ass many meat gumbo

gumbo
This is a beast of a meal that originated from a surplus of leftover cooked meats from weekend catering jobs that were loitering in my refrigerator that I needed/wanted to use… and I had a raging desire to get a bit of variety into the diet of the carnivorous dinosaur I keep as a pet under my back stairs.

It is quite simply the same as my recipe here (because we still have a shit load* of all sorts of varieties of kale taking over the place we once called a garden and they are now petitioning the parliament for cessation from the Commonwealth and acknowledgement of their new sovereign state; Kaleland… I really think they could’ve been a little more creative with the name of their new state but let’s just remember, kale is renowned for being really healthy and shit, not for it’s intellectual capabilities.), but instead of the whatever meat was in the original recipe I subbed in a pile of leftover roasted chicken legs and thighs, roasted lamb shoulder and roasted pork belly.

I am not so stupid that I don’t realise that it’s not every week that one has a few different types of leftover meat hanging around so just so you know what? It is very OK to go out and buy a bit of this meat and a bit of that meat until you feel the T-Rex you have living under the back stairwell will be satiated.

And before you eat it you should douse it with your favourite hot sauce.
gumbo

gumbo

gumbo
Get on it.
gumbo
*an actual measurement

Winner winner, smoked chicken burgers for dinner

smoked pulled chicken burgers
This week my eldest son Seba, informed me that he thought it was about time he got the hang of smoking.

I could’ve have been concerned and demanded that he stopped hanging out with that tough crowd down the street because they were obviously leading him astray, but I was pretty confident that wasn’t the type of smoking he was talking about. You see, around foodisthebestshitever HQ the main type of smoking we talk about is the smoking of meat.

Once again I could understand how this could be misconstrued, but believe me when I say there is nothing biblical nor quick-cash-earning about this type of smoking of the meat. Also, you should just get your filthy mind out of the gutter, this is my kid we’re talking about here…

So at this point, this 10 year old product of coital union between myself (I think) and my dear wife Jennee almost has me in tears. The lad wanting to follow in the foot steps of his old man, manning the pit and feeding the hoards who desired the smoky goodness. I was damn well impressed. This was definitely a proud dad moment for me.

After a little light reading of a few of my favourite BBQ books Seba declared he thought he would like to spatchcock a bird (his words not mine) and smoke it for a few hours.

Sound idea… except the butcher was sans whole birds today, so I suggested we may need to settle for some chicken breast, possibly pulled and sauced and made into burgers.

Seba was agreeable, so we purchased said breasts and the rest, as they say, is history.

Big Red Rub, butter and breasts... sounds like my kind of party
Big Red Rub, butter and breasts… sounds like my kind of party

Smoker, Fiskars X25 block splitter, beer brewed by the Coopers family and a full watering can just because safety doesn't take a holiday
Smoker, Fiskars X25 block splitter, beer brewed by the Coopers family and a full watering can just because safety doesn’t take a holiday
Seba get's that chicken in the smoker. The task seemed pretty easy for him...
Seba get’s that chicken in the smoker. The task seemed pretty easy for him…
Seba rolling those boobies through the red butter
Seba rolling those boobies through the red butter
Starting to turn into some really sexy breasts
Starting to turn into some really sexy breasts

Loaded as fuck
Loaded as fuck

SMOKED & PULLED CHICKEN BURGERS

(serves 4)

3x 200g chicken breast (free range, yeah. Give the little chooky a half decent life at least)
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub
1 tablespoon butter
BBQ sauce
4 burger buns (I like a slightly sweet milk bun, but I’m sure what ever you choose will be fine)
Lettuce leaves, tomato, cheese, mayonnaise and sliced jalapeno to served

• Rub chicken boobs with butter and then Big Red Seasoning
• Set aside in the fridge to marinated for an hour or so
• Get your weber or upright smoker or whatever it is you use to smoke things ready to go. Somewhere around the 110-120C is the temp I like for this sort of thing
• Smoke chicken on a tray for approximately 2 hours or until cooked through. Turn the chicken and baste with juices every 30 minutes
• Rest chicken for 10 minutes
• Shred it, pull it, do your thing
• Check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary
• Moisten chicken with 2-3 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and pile onto burger buns layered with the other ingredients. I shouldn’t need to hold your hand through this one by now, but if I do… well… I’m just not going to. Here is a picture of my 10 year old son sorting it out all by himself. That’s all

Honestly. This is Seba just rocking the "I got this pops"
Honestly. This is Seba just rocking the “I got this pops”

This was seriously one of the fucking best
This was seriously one of the fucking best

Flood goals #2: roast chicken with fruity nutty stuffing

roast chicken with fruit stuffing
The rivers and creeks that have swelled more than Gina Reinharts chin banks will eventually subside. The waters shall recede like George Costanza’s hairline and the semi rural vista shall become apparent once more. It shall sink to depths lower than teenage despair, it shall become shallower than last years prom queen and as weak and feeble as my famous person analogies. That’s what the water will do…

Until then we shall relax and enjoy this forced hiatus from the outside world. At a town meeting we shall decide that we actually prefer this cessation of ties with the outside world. We shall talk about forming our own government and who should be in charge. We will be divided through our options, heightened with a splash of cabin fever. Alliances would be formed. Weapons would be made. The townsfolk will become angry and fights will break out. Oh no, Piggy got smashed with a rock.

Maybe we just need to hope and pray for these waters to subside a little quicker…

While we wait I will take that chook I spoke about last post – you know, the chook of noble upbringing and reputable past – and I shall make a stuffing worthy of being rammed into it’s butthole. And then, my friends, I will indeed ram that stuffing into the chook’s butthole and then we shall roast it and eat it in our bellies.

That’s what I’m going to do.

Stuffy stuffy stuffing
Stuffy stuffy stuffing

Nah, that chook's stuffed mate
Nah, that chook’s stuffed mate
I do believe this would be called the money shot
I do believe this would be called the money shot
Oooh. Nom nom nom
Oooh. Nom nom nom
I told you braised greens were a good side...
I told you braised greens were a good side…

It was really good
It was really good

FRUITY NUTTY CHOOK STUFFING

1 thick slice sourdough bread, diced nice and small
2 dried figs, chopped,
1/4 cup almonds or cashews or whatever your favourite nut might be right now or a mix of the lot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder
A big handful chopped herbs – parsley, sage, rosary and thyme (yeah, sing it)
A splash of white wine or apple cider to moisten slightly
1 chicken to put the stuffing inside of
Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper

• Pre heat oven to 180-200C

• Massage all of the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl (Yeah massage. Get right in there. But probably leave the essential oils out of this one…), season with a little salt and pepper and then leave to soak up the love for a few minutes

• Get the stuffing into the chicken. I do not believe there is polite and tidy way to do this so I just stuff it in there best I can

• Rub the chicken with a little oil to get it’s sweaty bald man sheen on, and then season with salt and pepper

• Into the oven for 1hr 20mins or something thereabouts – until the juices in the leg joint run clear is a good indicator. After 1hr rub chicken down with a little butter to get that all over tan going on. Once that sexy bitch is cooked rest for 15 minutes and then carve. Pan gravy and braised kale from the garden was a damn fine side for this delicious bird

When the water was at it's peak it would have been close to 2m up that cactus in the fore ground
When the water was at it’s peak it would have been close to 2m up that cactus in the fore ground

Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy

IMG_5888
This was one of those dinners I set out to cook with a recipe. Yes that is correct, a recipe. Yes, even chefs use recipes believe me, but read on and you will see, as is often place in my kitchen, the whole thing can stray quickly and massively off course.

So one ingredient that was definitely happening tonight was chicken… and Jennee was really keen on cauli-cous (the blitzed faux rice or cous-cous substitute for peeps who don’t like the grain, and maybe for those amongst us who love the cauli)… and this was leading me very quickly to cooking a recipe of Middle Eastern origins.

I flicked through a few books by Greg Malouf, Yotam Ottolenghi and some other inspiring dojos of Middle Eastern cookery and found a chicken tagine recipe that was going to sort me out. I had the chicken and a few other ingredients in front of me and then bam, that’s where shit went pear shaped. One second I’m making a chicken tagine with really herby and lemony cauli-cous, next second it is chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and lemon and orange gravy.

No explanation – just happened. And let me tell you it’s happened before and I dare say it will happen again… damn aliens and their anal probes… um… I mean damn mind and it’s lack of ability to cognitively convey to me what the fuck it is doing.

Anyway, this is what I cooked. I’m going to call it Middle Eastern inspired chicken with garlic and spices, really herby and lemony cauli-cous, roasted kipflers potatoes and citrus gravy.

Hell of a story, I know.

I call this one "the indecision of a child of the modern world"
I call this one “the indecision of a child of the modern world”

Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
Garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper getting smashed
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub... chicken loves a good spicy rub
That chicken getting a bit of love from the spice rub… chicken loves a good spicy rub
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter
Orange and lemons with a pretty antique filter

Someone fill that glass would they
Someone fill that glass would they

MIDDLE EASTERN INSPIRED CHICKEN WITH GARLIC & SPICES, & CITRUS GRAVY (serves 4)

The citrus gravy was the winner on this day. It may strike you as being a little weird but heck, I think you’re a little weird and I don’t go on about it all day so maybe you should just give the citrus gravy a try.

1 whole chook (1.6-1.8kg), quartered, or 4 chicken marylands. Make it free-range ay
8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon each black peppercorns and sea salt
5 bay leaves
1 long red or green chilli, sliced
2 lemons, juiced
1 orange, juiced
Kipfler potatoes roasted with olives and tomato, and herby lemony cauli-cous (recipe below) to serve

• Smash garlic, coriander seed, salt and pepper and a splash of oil together with a mortar and pestle to form a rough paste. A really rough paste. A paste that is as rough as the 42 year old “lady” at the club who is still trawling the floor when the lights come on at 3am
• Place the chicken pieces into a baking dish and rub with garlic mix. Add the bay leaves to the tray
• Place into a pre heated 180-190C oven and cook for 20 minutes
• Baste with citrus juice and add chilli. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until cooked – you can pretty easily check by cutting into a piece of chicken at the joint. Do it on the under side to keep it discreet
• Pour the juice into a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat until slightly thickened and sexy looking. Check seasoning
• Serve chicken with cauli-cous, potatoes and citrus gravy, garnished with reserved herbs and you know what? Scatter a few edible flowers around the plate too, if you have some. Half a flower garden as a garnish seems to be the trend these days… and maybe a small outdoor setting and a fishpond with a few gold fish just to complete the picture…

The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it
The cauliflower cut into florets right before I cous the heck out of it

Herby, lemony cauli-cous
Herby, lemony cauli-cous

REALLY HERBY & LEMONY CAULI-COUS

3-4 cups cauliflower florets (from ½ large cauliflower)
½ red onion, diced finely
1 lemon, zested
2 big handfuls of mixed herbs (parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, thyme), chopped
½ cup each pistachios and almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Seasoning

• In 2 batches pulse cauliflower florets in food processer. Pulse is the operative word here as you do not want to let the blades of your choppy choppy mixy machine loose on the cauliflower as that is going to end in a cauliflower mush and quite probably tears. Pulse it a few time to achieve a coarse texture and everyone’s going to be happy
• Combine all ingredients except herbs
• Heat a splash of oil in a wok or large pan over a high heat. Add cauliflower mix and toss/stir for a minute or two
• Toss through most of the herbs, reserving a small handful for garnishing purposes, and check seasoning
• Serve with the chicken and potatoes that you just cooked too

Get into it
Get into it

NB that cauli-cous is also cracking with a nice piece of lamb, yoghurt and tahini dressing, and some fresh pomegranate

Chicken and Prawn Pad Thai Noodles for your New Years Resolution

chicken and prawn pad thai noodles
If making Pad Thai was your New Years resolution then this is a story for you… read on my friend, read on.

It’s time to say goodbye to 2015; the old suit, last years fashion and the out of date milk… or maybe just plain old out of date, and hello to 2016; the new puppy dog, the fresh threads, the shiny new car and the virgin princess.

That’s right, the New Year has welcomed it’s own self into our lives like a cheeky little gypsy squatter. Yep, 2016 is here and it is here to stay. Now is probably also a good time to bring to point out that it’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life… or at least the next 365 days…

I know it is customary in these times we live in, to make a resolution of some description. You probably want to better yourself and just make yourself a nicer person to be around and I think that is kinda reasonable because let’s face it, you are a bit of a dick but I’m sure with a good positive attitude and the help of the New Years Resolution Gods you can overcome this little hurdle and push on to become a more bearable human being.

Me on the other hand, I’m not really bothered with that whole resolution thing. Too worried about failing at this shit one more year so just staying well away from the whole thing… Well, maybe that’s a bit of a lie (bare with me here). Not more than two weeks ago my brother Matt did send my a pic of a classic Thai noodle dish called Pad Thai that he had made for his dinner. The pic made me want Pad Thai… I could taste it and I knew that with my self judged pro rank at making this aforementioned dish, it was something that I would need to cook for myself (and possibly 14 other people because, like it’s Italian cousin the pasta, this is one of those dishes that I always cook a heap too much of… the neighbours don’t seem to mind though).

Right there and then I decided that I would make Pad Thai on New Years Day. That was my New Years resolution and I was going to try my darndest to stick to it and it was indeed a resolution that was swiftly and efficiently fulfilled.

New Years Day dinner equaled a big fat wok full of prawn and chicken Pad Thai with chilli jam, some soy and garlic greens and Thai-esque coleslaw. I am fucking ruling at 2016 already. Bring on the rest of the year!

Prawn and chicken-y goodness
Prawn and chicken-y goodness

Those garlic and soy greens
Those garlic and soy greens
That Thai style 'slaw
That Thai style ‘slaw
Those Pad Thai noodles
Those Pad Thai noodles

And a close up of those same noodles
And a close up of those same noodles

PAD THAI (serves at least 6 as part of a banquette)

Some dried flat rice noodles (however many you reckon because let’s face it; it really doesn’t effing matter how much you soak because it’s always going to be enough to feed a medium to large Thai village anyways), soaked in warm water until just cooked but still a little firm in the middle AKA al dente. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have some fresh rice noodles with-in your grasp, you go ahead and use them
10 large king prawns or possibly lobster (if the extra cash in your pockets is weighing your pants down and you’re starting to look a little too much like a 90s homeboy) peeled, de-veined and chopped into 2-3 pieces
300-400g chicken thigh (for me) or breast (for other people), chopped into small bite sized pieces. It is also totally feasible to use the left over roast chicken from last night, which is what I did actually do
2 tablespoons each salted radish (chopped) and dried shrimp
4 eggs
1 bunch garlic chives, chopped into 1 inch pieces
Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
Bean shoots, coriander, crisp eshallots and roasted peanuts
Lime, fish sauce and chilli jam (a recipe will follow in the coming days/weeks) to serve

• Get your wok hot. I mean hot. Like the super model crisping up in the midday sun sans Evian hot. Add a splash of oil and then crack the eggs in and scramble them really fast. Once they are cooked put them on a plate and set aside
• Add a little more oil and let the wok heat up again. Add the prawns, chicken, salted radish and shrimp and fry for 1 minute
• Add the noodles and egg and stir fry for another minute
• Now add most of the Pad Thai sauce (reserve a little to adjust seasoning at the end if necessary), a handful of coriander and bean shoots, and a few garlic chives, crisp eshallots and peanuts. Toss
• It is now one minute later and your Pad Thai is ready
• Check seasoning and adjust with reserved Pad Thai sauce if necessary
• Serve garnished with extra garlic chives, bean shoots, coriander, eshallots, peanuts and heaps of lime for squeezy tang
• Good work

Pad Thai Sauce

¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup tamarind puree
½ cup grated light palm sugar
• Whack it all in a jar and shake it up until the palm sugar is dissolved

That’s it; Pad Thai like a boss. Stay tuned for our foodisthebestshitever Easter food ideas real soon… only three months ahead of time – just like the supermarkets!
chicken and prawn pad thai noodles