I love how certain foods can bring up a specific feel or memory.
The first time I made these tacos was the first meal I made for our friends Travis and Melissa after they got married. We had just moved into the house we are currently in and the meal always takes me right back to that season of life.
They live in California now, and we’re heading out to visit them in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to spending time with their baby and having more people around to watch my kids while I work some magic in the kitchen. If any of my California readers have suggestions of things to do in LA I’d love to hear them!
I usually prefer white meat over dark meat when it comes to chicken, but dark meat could not be more perfect here. I usually use thighs over legs because the skin is easier to remove, but you could use either or a mix. I’m all about speed.
The rub for the chicken has a lot of leeway. I might venture to say that I never make it the same way twice. Think of the recipe below as a base with which you can add or subtract from the quantities as your taste or availability allows. The quantities below can spread over 16 chicken thighs but I used it on 8. Lee. Way. Boom.
This chicken is amazing on its own or you can add any of the usual taco toppings. I usually do my pico de gallo with avocado, cheese and sour cream.
What sorts of foods hold specific memories for you?
- ½ cup chopped jalapeno,, seeded
- 10 cloves garlic,, chopped
- Zest of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- ½ cup olive oil
- 8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or legs
- 10 flour tortillas
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place the jalapeno, garlic, lime zest, peppercorns, salt, and chili powder in the bowl of a food processor. Stream in the olive oil with the motor running, then process for a minute or two until a smooth paste forms.
- Place the chicken in the baking dish and rub thoroughly with the chili paste.
- Bake for one hour or until the meat reads 170ºF on a meat thermometer. Let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones, moistening with the drippings as necessary.
- Serve in flour tortillas with monterey jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, or any other desired toppings.