Authentic Shredded Chicken
by J. J. Cannon
It’s getting to be that time of year again… the time of year when my friends start asking “Hey, Jen: Are you cooking?” Aaaah, it’s like music to my ears, but also something I have learned to do on my own terms so that I don’t turn something I am so passionate about into something that feels like work.
When I moved to the east coast nine years ago I realized in short order that one of the things I missed most about home (SoCal) was access to good Mexican food. There wasn’t a taco shop in sight! Where was the tortilla section of the store!?! Back home the tortilla section is as big as the bread section! Where was the Herdez salsa? No Las Palmas enchilada sauce…I was starting to panic, when I heard a voice in my head- the humorously annoying voice of one of my old friends saying “Winners find a way Jen.”. With that, I set about looking for the little family owned markets I knew had to be around here somewhere that might hold the keys to my Mexican foodie dreams. I found a few – one had always-ripe Haas avocados for half the price of the grocery store, one had oodles of all of the best brands of tortillas- the big ones for making burritos and three dozen packs of corn tortillas for tacos, taquitos and enchiladas! Once when my friend Marco missed his shipment of tortillas, his sister-in-law MADE me three dozen tortillas! Heaven.
I immediately set to work, determined to show my friends what Mexican food looks, tastes and feels like where I come from. I helped cater my new neighborhood’s first Cinco de Mayo party. There were tacos, two kinds of enchiladas, carnitas, homemade rice and refried beans and, of course, fresh salsa and guacamole (now referred to as “Green Gold”).
When I arrived with all the food my new friend said “I don’t know what I was expecting, but this is phenomenal!” A huge compliment from a no BS girl from Queens.
A while later, I found myself making Mexican food for friends more frequently and West Coast Burrito Co. was born. I bought a special freezer and started filling it with love- er I mean trays of enchiladas and neatly arranged packages of burritos and taquitos.
These days it seems my little West Coast Burrito Co. has found its season, and that season is mostly during the Fall and Winter months. I make three different types of burritos, and chicken taquitos, which I sell in packages of thirty.
Recently someone on twitter (@tholmes14) asked me if I had any taco ideas, so I thought this would be the perfect recipe to share as you can use this traditionally prepared shredded chicken for lots of different Mexican dishes.
Hope you’ll try and let me know what you think!
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast (I like to rinse mine!)
1 clove fresh garlic (peeled & left whole)
1 small yellow onion (quartered)
1 bay leaf
4 tsp. Knorr Caldo de Pollo (Chicken flavor Bouillon)
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Retrieve your best deep pot with lid…like your Gram would have used (the one pictured here was my Gram’s).
Lay chicken on bottom of pan and sprinkle with salt, a few cracks of pepper and bouillon powder.
Cover with COLD water to approx. an inch over chicken.
Add garlic clove, onion, and bay leaf.
Cover and cook over medium high heat until boiling. Then lower heat to simmer gently for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, remove from heat and let sit (lid on) for another 30 minutes – trust me :).
Meanwhile, ready your cutting board, two forks and a big bowl.
Remove chicken, one breast at a time to cutting board and shred with forks (go ahead, taste it!). It should be moist and tender. Doing this one at a time allows you to also pick out any little gristly things that you don’t want to eat. I just push those aside.
After you’ve shredded the chicken, put it in the bowl and pour a little (1/4 cup?) of the broth into the bowl. This will keep your chicken moist and delicious.
This chicken can be used for tacos, taquitos, enchiladas and more.
I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think!