Yucatan Chicken Tacos – Flavorful & Easy
It’s not everyday that I have a dish that sticks with me for very long. Most of the time I just consume and move on. In my wife’s and I favorite little Texas town of Fredericksburg, there’s a tiny little burger/taco joint called Tubby’s, where they serve Yucatan chicken tacos. The combination of flavors and textures hit just right and led me to create my own.
I wanted these tacos to be a delicious blend of spice and acidity, with sweet and heat playing an accompanying role. The spices comes from freshly toasted cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Fresh squeezed oranges and limes give it that acidic kick. And lastly, honey and chipotles in adobe round out the flavor profile.
Why should you make these inspired Yucatan Chicken tacos?
- Flavors galore – I know I keep talking about the flavors but I just can’t help it. This may be the most flavorful dish I’ve ever created.
- So easy – Toast the spices, blend the marinade and then cook. It really doesn’t get much easier than that.
- Versatility – Clearly this recipe is meant for tacos but if you wanted to use the chicken for salads, on top of rice, or even by itself, it will all be so good!
- Don’t burn the spices– Toasting spices is not a set-it and forget-it deal. Keep your eyes (and nose) on them when they are in the pan.
- Don’t cheat on the juices – Bottled orange juice and lime juice will never be the same as freshly squeezed. Don’t cheat!
- Jarred Chipotle peppers – If you’ve been around the cooking scene long enough, you’ll have seen canned chipotle peppers quite a bit. But jarred is even better because you can stick it back in the fridge without waste.
Yucatan Inspired Chicken Tacos
- 2 tablespoons oil neutral like vegetable or canola
- 1/2 cup orange juice about 2 large oranges, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 cup lime juice about 4 limes, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons chili powder regular, New Mexico, ancho, etc
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablepspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds freshly toasted
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds freshly toasted
- 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns freshly toasted
- 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken things
- Place a medium, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander and black peppercorns. Toast the seeds for 3-5 minutes or until they are very fragrant. Make sure to toss or stir occasionally to ensure they don't burn.
- Once toasted, add to a blender along with the remaining ingredients (minus the chicken thighs). Blend on high for 1 – 2 minutes or until the toasted seeds are ground down. (You want there to be some fragments left as they provide a nice crunch when eating.)
- In a plastic bag, or other air-tight vessel, add the chicken thighs along with the blended marinade. Remove as much air as possible and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Preferable 8 – 12 hours.
- After marinating, set up a grill for medium high direct heat. Shake off excess marinade and place chicken on grill. Cook for 4 – 6 minutes per side. If chicken starts to burn, move to a cooler part of the grill. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees.
- Once cooked, remove from grill and rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve with your favorite toppings.