One of the things that gives me inspiration when I cook is eating out. Whenever I eat something delicious at a restaurant, I always want to come home and recreate it.
This Mexican-spiced, pulled chicken recipe is a culmination of several different eating-out experiences that have all come together to form what we call “Mexican Monday”, “Taco Tuesday” or simply “Mexican night” in our home. First, when we lived in NJ, there was a Mexican restaurant called Blue Moon. I used to love their taco salad, and I wanted to recreate it. As opposed to grilled chicken that they used, I thought this recipe for pulled chicken that a friend had given me would be even better. She used bottled BBQ sauce in her version (which I’m not a fan of because of the extra sugar and preservatives usually contained in processed foods), so I tried it a different way, and it turned out fabulously! We were a bit obsessed with Mexican night for a while, but somehow it fell out of our dinner repertoire until one day a dish reminded me how much I love a slow-cooked, mouth-watering pulled protein. A friend had an errand to run, and I told her we should walk to get some exercise. This errand was 3 miles one way, and we left at 11am with no snacks on hand. By the time we were on our way back, we were both famished and took a small detour through Camden Market. There were a handful of little food stalls open. I was so hungry, I could barely think straight. Out of nowhere, a man offered us a piece of braised beef that he used in his arepas. I was sold, immediately purchased one of his arepas, and returned home on a mission to revive our beloved Mexican night including this juicy pulled chicken.
Mexican night is a favorite in my family, and while it involves a few minutes of prep, there is very little cooking involved.
Mexican Spiced pulled Chicken:
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoons dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoons garlic powder
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon chipotle pepper or chili powder – depending on your taste for spice
- ¾ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 ½ pounds (700 grams) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts or a combination of both
Honey, Lime, Cilantro Vinaigrette (even if you’re not making a salad, this makes a delicious sauce for your taco 🙂 :
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (juice from about 2 limes)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
- 2 large handfuls (20 grams) cilantro/fresh coriander, stems and leaves are fine (no need to pick off the leaves)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Other Items for Mexican Night:
- Hard or soft taco shells
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1, 15 oz (400 gram) can of black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
- Black olives, chopped – optional
- Pickled jalapeños – optional
- Pico de Gallo or your favorite jarred salsa – optional
- Tabasco or other hot sauce – optional
- 10–12 oz (265 grams) lettuce (if you want to make a taco salad) – I’m very lazy about prepping lettuce so I usually buy the bags. For this salad, I prefer romaine or red leaf, but almost anything will work.
Mexican Spiced Pulled Chicken:
Stir all the ingredients except the chicken together in a crockpot. Add in the chicken and stir it around in the sauce to coat it.
Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.
Take 2 forks and shred the chicken directly in the crock pot so it soaks up the juice. There will probably be way more juice than you want, so remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, and place in a bowl. You can then scoop out a few spoonfuls of the juice and add it to the chicken.
Honey, Lime, Cilantro Vinaigrette:
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Assemble the Salad or Tacos:
Place the lettuce in a large bowl and toss with about ½ of the vinaigrette.
Divide the lettuce into 4 bowls.
Add the pulled chicken, shredded cheddar, black beans, avocado and any of the optional toppings. Pour one last drizzle of the vinaigrette over the top and enjoy!
Alternatively, you can place all the items in bowls and let each person assemble their own salad.
For tacos, warm the taco shells in the oven on low heat. Place all the items in bowls and let each person assemble their own. taco.