Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pulled-Chicken Tacos with Loaded Guacamole

In my opinion, tacos don’t get the respect they deserve on the dinner table. Maybe that’s because they often land there in paper bags from a fast-food place. As with anything else, preparing them at home turns the humble taco into an inviting, flavorful, even healthful meal, whether you go authentic Mexican, Tex-Mex, or California style. I’ll call the ones in this recipe a combination of the latter two.

Yes, you could buy a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket and shred the meat, but that bird won’t be as tender and succulent as the one you slow-cook in your own oven. Is it worth spending two hours making a taco dinner? You bet. And your guests will love you for it.   

Braising a whole chicken gives you a mix of white and dark meat. If you prefer one or the other, substitute all leg quarters for dark meat only or all breast for white meat. (Use bone-in breasts—they’ll be a little juicier than boneless.) To help the chicken braise evenly in only a couple hours, cut it in half lengthwise by removing the backbone with kitchen shears, then cutting through the breast plate.

Cut Along Each Side of the Backbone 
Remove the Backbone 
Cut through the Breast Plate
I usually enjoy a simple, unadorned—and more authentic—guacamole, but sometimes it’s fun (and tasty) to load it up with fresh ingredients for a little extra depth and heartiness. Fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, chile, onion, cilantro, lime juice—all come together to make a very flavorful accompaniment for the chicken.

I used homemade ranchero sauce as a finisher, but choose your favorite bottled hot sauce as an alternative.

Makes about 10 tacos


For the Chicken
  • 1 whole fryer chicken (about 3 lbs), cut lengthwise in half, backbone removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup ranchero sauce (or other hot sauce), plus more for serving
  • 10 6-inch tortillas (flour or corn), warmed
For the Guacamole
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt
  • 3 small (or 2 medium) ripe avocados, halved lengthwise, pit removed
  • 8 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 small tomatillos, husked and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice 
Guacamole Ingredients


For the Chicken
  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. 
  2. Place the chicken halves cut-side down in a Dutch oven or large, ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Scatter the garlic around and on top of the chicken and season with oregano, chile powder, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour the broth into the pot and cover tightly. Braise until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours, turning once halfway through.
Seasoned Chicken 
Broth Added
Chicken Halfway Through
Braised Chicken
  1. Remove the chicken to a large plate or cutting board and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin and pull the meat from the bones, shredding it into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat a large skillet or saucepan over low heat and add the pulled chicken. Add 1/2 cup of ranchero sauce (or bottled hot sauce) and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and keep warm until ready to use.
Let the Chicken Cool
Pulled Chicken with Sauce
Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and serve with warm tortillas, guacamole (recipe follows), and extra sauce.

Pulled-Chicken Tacos with Loaded Guacamole
For the Guacamole
  1. Place the garlic cloves in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Use a fork to mash the garlic and salt to form a chunky paste.
  2. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine.
Scooped Avocado and Garlic Paste 
Mashed Avocado
Loaded Guacamole

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