Saturday, April 2, 2016

61. Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole Collage

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This recipe is based on one our favorite Mexican fast food splurges!  Every time I go to a place like Filiberto's, Aliberto's or Nico's, I have to get the three rolled tacos with cheese and guacamole.  They're on the small side, so I usually get another item as well, but those are always in the mix!

I made these on Thursday.  I have a four-day work week, so Thursday is basically my Friday.  I've been wanting to try rolled tacos for a while, but I had a feeling it would be a lot more work than driving through Nico's . . . so I had been putting it off!  Ha ha.

Once I mentioned it to Steve, though, he was all for it.  He has kind of a ho-hum attitude towards tacos these days (understandably), so it was nice to hear the enthusiasm.  I knew I just had to go for it - I had the time, after all!

I decided to make a chicken and black bean filling (you know, just to make the tacos extra fancy), homemade guacamole (of course), and a homemade thin red chile salsa like they have at all those little Mexican fast food places.  I was picturing a copycat Cholula.  If you don't want to bother with that, store-bought Cholula is delicious.  We use it all the time!

I had to use my Cameron stovetop smoker again.  It's really one of my favorite ways to cook chicken, and it's easy!  I thought it had the potential to take these tacos over the top.  If you don't have a stovetop smoker, consider clicking the link below and ordering one!  You'll have it in two days, and it'll be well worth the purchase price.  You can definitely make these tacos without it (just boil, bake, or cook the chicken some other way), but I would recommend smoking!  :)

It's very easy to use - it only took me once or twice to get the hang of it.  It's a great product!  We use ours at least a few times a month!  :)

I also highly recommend the following cookbook, which has a lot of recipes that feature this type of smoker, along with a lot of basic instructions for cooking all kinds of different foods (both meat and vegetables)!

Well . . . these were a lot of work.  They were amazing, though!  I wouldn't recommend making them on a busy night.  However, if you have a free evening (and ingredients for margaritas), these can be the centerpiece for a fun, delicious dinner!

Here's the recipe:

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole

Serves about 4 or 5 (15 or 16 tacos) 


For the Fresno and guajillo chile salsa:

2 dried guajillo chiles
2 Fresno chiles

Guajillo and Fresno Chiles for Salsa

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup of the chile soaking liquid
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

For the chicken and black bean mixture:

1 lb. chicken breast (about two breast halves)
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the chicken
1/2 white onion, finely chopped (use 1/4 cup for the salsa)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fajita seasoning (Here's an Amazon link to the kind that I used.)

One 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the guacamole:

3 small avocados, pitted and coarsely mashed
1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

A few ounces grated medium cheddar cheese

15 or 16 corn tortillas (I used Trader Joe's brand this time.)

Canola oil for frying



1. Soak the guajillo chiles:  Place the stemmed and seeded chiles in a 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup.  Cover the chiles with boiling water, weight them down with a small dish, and allow them to soak for about 30 minutes.

2. While the chiles are soaking, smoke the chicken:  Drizzle the chicken breasts with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Smoke in a stovetop smoker according to manufacturer's instructions for about 20 to 25 minutes or until just done.  Transfer to a plate and allow to cool a bit.

Smoked Chicken Breasts for Chicken Rolled Tacos

3. While the chicken is smoking, make the guacamole:  Combine all of the guacamole ingredients in a small bowl and lightly mash together until well-combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

4. Once the chiles are done soaking, finish the chile salsa:  Remove and reserve the soaking liquid (leave the chiles in the measuring cup.  Add the Fresno chiles, onion, garlic, 1/2 cup of the reserved soaking liquid (save the rest), the vinegars, and the salt.

Ingredients for Guajillo and Fresno Chile Salsa

Blend with a hand blender until the salsa is smooth.  (Alternately, you can use a regular blender.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

5. Shred the chicken:  Cut the chicken breasts into several smaller pieces and place in a medium bowl.  Shred with an electric hand mixer until broken into small pieces.  (This is the first time I've tried shredding chicken this way.  It worked!  A few pieces of chicken flew out of the bowl, but . . . what can you do?)  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.  Set aside.

Shredded Chicken for Rolled Tacos

6.  Finish the filling:  Heat the 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.   Add the onions, lower the heat to medium low, and cook until they are soft and somewhat browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the fajita seasoning, black beans, and salt.  Use a potato masher and mash until the the beans are slightly broken up.  It's OK if some of the beans are still whole.  

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Filling for Rolled Tacos

Add the chicken and a few splashes of the reserved chile soaking liquid.  Cook and stir until everything is combined and heated through.  Set aside.  

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Filling for Rolled Tacos

7.  Prepare the tortillas:  Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  Heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.  After each one is done, place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  Stack them on top of one another as you work.  When the whole batch is done, wrap them completely in the foil.

8. Assemble and fry the tacos:  Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Fill a deep medium skillet with canola oil until a depth of about 1 1/2 inches is reached.  Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches about 360 degrees.  

While the oil is heating, roll the tacos.  Place a couple of tablespoons of the filling in the middle of one of the tortillas.  Roll it up as tightly as possible and secure with a toothpick.  Repeat this process until all of the tacos are rolled.

Fry the tacos, 2 or 3 at a time, for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown all over.  Remove from the hot oil with tongs and allow to drain on paper towels.  These processes can overlap a bit.  I rolled two tacos, put them in the oil, and rolled two more tacos while the first ones were cooking.  Do whatever works for you!

When all of the tacos are cooked and drained, transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.  

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos

9.  When you are ready to serve the tacos, place three of them on a plate (for each serving).  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and spoon some guacamole on the side.  Garnish with the hot chile sauce as desired.  Enjoy!

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole with a Margarita

I don't know if you've ever gotten the fast food version of three rolled tacos with guacamole, but this presentation is definitely better!

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole

I was a little worried about these at first.  The chicken at the edges of the tacos seemed to get a little crispy/overcooked in the oil.  You can see it in the photo below:

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos
Steve tricked me.  I took my photos, put the plates on the table, and said, "Go ahead - try them!"  I went to another room and came back a minute later.  He shook his head and said, "I'm sorry.  I can't eat these."

WTF?  Seriously?  They can't be that bad!  Can't we just add more guacamole?

Well, about two seconds later, he said, "Ha ha.  Just kidding!  They're so good - the best I've ever had!"


The funny thing was that he already had the tacos at Nico's earlier in the day and didn't tell me!  That is kind of unusual - we don't do much fast food!  To make a long story short, he was getting his car washed and it took forever, so he ended up walking over to Nico's and getting rolled tacos.  When I (coincidentally) mentioned that I was going to make rolled tacos for dinner, he thought it would be a great opportunity to do a direct comparison!

Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Rolled Tacos with Cheese and Guacamole

Well, these were fantastic!  This made a mess, though, as frying always does!  There were a lot of steps.  None of them were really difficult, but you just really have to want homemade rolled tacos.  We did, so it worked.  :)

You could just go to Nico's and get some rolled tacos for about three bucks, but . . . why???

This was so much more fun!

This has me thinking about other rolled taco possibilities.  What about brunch tacos?  Fruit filling, some kind of topping, and bacon on the side???  Ummm.  How about YES!!!

I might be trying something like that tomorrow morning.  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

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