Sometimes, the inspiration for my taco recipes comes from items that I know I have in the refrigerator that need to be eaten.
On my way home from school, I was frantically trying to think of a taco to get me one step closer to my goal of 100 recipes in a year. I'm usually pretty busy during the day, so I didn't have much time to think until my drive home. It takes me about 15 minutes to get to the grocery store, so I started racking my brain . . .
Bacon! I remembered a pack of bacon that I had opened for my last recipe. I had only used a few slices of it. Hmmm. What goes with bacon? I couldn't do BLT tacos - I've already done that. You can check those out here! (They were delicious!)
I finally thought of chicken. And ranch. That's a thing, right? Chicken/bacon/ranch? It seems like that combination pops up a lot - maybe not the trendiest thing out there, but what's not to like? YES! The details of the idea fell into place during the remaining minutes of my drive. I decided to cook a couple of chicken breast halves in my stovetop smoker and make a homemade ranch dressing. Then . . . another light bulb! I thought of a nostalgic, slightly goofy addition. For some reason, the canned ranch style beans that I liked as a kid came to mind. We used to eat them quite often alongside a steak or a hamburger patty. I thought they were delicious, but I haven't bought them in years.
Well, what could be better than ranch on tacos? DOUBLE RANCH!
I've used my stovetop smoker before in other taco recipes: one featuring tuna and the other mushrooms! I would highly recommend getting one for your kitchen! We have the Cameron brand and we love it! Here's a link to buy it from Amazon. It's very easy to use, too. (By the way, I am not affiliated with Cameron. I just think it's a great product!) :)
If you don't have one, don't worry - you can still make this! After seasoning the chicken breasts, you could grill them and they would still be tasty. You could even boil the chicken in salted water - as long as it gets cooked, seasoned, and shredded, it should work!
Anyway, this was a tasty, fairly easy weeknight taco. Here's the recipe! :)
Chicken-Bacon-Double Ranch Tacos
Serves 4-6 (about 8-12 tacos) with extra dressing
8 slices of high-quality bacon (about 8 oz.)
2 organic skinless/boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the ranch dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp. chopped chives
1 tsp. Cholula, or a hot sauce of your choice
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
One 15 oz. can ranch-style beans
12 to 24 corn tortillas, depending on whether you want to double them up
A few large leaves of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
|Because you know we love "real western flavor" here in Arizona. ;)|
A few large leaves of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
Chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
1. Cook the bacon: Line a large baking sheet with foil and arrange the slices in a single layer. Place into a cold oven and turn it to about 380 degrees. Cook the bacon for about 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp; the cooking time can vary with the thickness of the slices. Drain the bacon on paper towels.
2. While the bacon is cooking, start the chicken: Season the chicken breasts with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Smoke in a stovetop smoker for about 20 minutes or until just done. (You can use another cooking method if you wish - it will still be good!) Allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred into large pieces with a knife and fork or your fingers. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Cover and set aside.
3. While the chicken is cooking, make the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternately, you can blend the mixture in a regular blender.) Cover and set aside.
4. Heat the beans in a small saucepan over medium heat.
5. While the beans are heating, prepare the tortillas: Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. As the tortillas are done, stack them on a sheet of foil. When they are all finished, wrap them in the foil. You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven if you wish.
6. When all the components are ready, assemble the tacos: For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate. (If your tortillas are thin, as mine were, double them up!) Top with some of the shredded chicken. Add a small spoonful of the beans (use a slotted spoon to avoid excess liquid). Add some shredded lettuce and some of the bacon. I used about a slice for each taco (broken into pieces). Sprinkle with chopped tomato and then drizzle on a generous amount of the ranch dressing. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chives, if you wish. Enjoy!
Ha ha. Well. The double-ranch thing may have been a bit of a gimmick, but it worked out pretty well. I don't know that the addition of the ranch-style beans "made" the taco, but it certainly didn't hurt. I thought they were tasty, but subtle. Ranch-style beans in a can are not bad, but they're not quite as good as I remember. Would this recipe be better with homemade, seasoned pinto beans? Probably. I'm all for doing that - it's easy to cook a pot of beans, but the timing just wasn't going to work out, considering that I started making these at about 6:30 pm.
I'm also discovering that, with sixty-nine recipes left to go, gimmicky ideas are not all bad. Ha ha.
Steve also gave these a thumbs up. We're not usually big fans of chicken breasts. We'll choose thighs or drumsticks every time, but the smoker really made these delicious! They had a lot of flavor and they stayed juicy! I can't recommend that thing enough!
The dressing was great. There was quite a bit left, and we ate it on a salad the next day. I don't see extra ranch dressing as a problem at all!
Thanks for reading! :)