this is the first dinner "recipe" i ever learned.
my dad used to make this when i was growing up, and i thought because the tacos were so so delicious that they must be super time consuming and complicated to make.
nope. they're the easiest!
i remember the first time i tried to cook the chicken for this dinner in my first apartment with my friend marisa. (hey, marisssss.) it took me fOrEvEr to finish making the damn tacos because i'd pretty much never cooked chicken in my life and didn't understand the heat factor, timing, what cooked chicken looked like, etc etc etc. i worriedly called my dad and was like, "how long are these chicken tacos supposed to take?!?!" he was like, "probably 20 minutes." meanwhile, i'd had the weirdly cooked chicken sitting in a pan of salsa for like 45 minutes already. i didn't know what the hell i was looking for!
as soon as i really *figured out* how to cook chicken properly and, for example, what 'boiling' and 'simmering' really *mean*, all other aspects of cooking seemed to click in my brain.
i always chuckle thinking about when i was first learning how to cook and like how to even boil water (yeah back in the day i used to put a pot of water on medium-low and wait a LOOOONG time for bubbles to appear - i just didn't GET it, man.) and i think everyone who learns to cook when they're a teenager probably go through the same weird trials & tribulations in the kitchen. all the fumbling around and seemingly frustrating cooking mishaps are totally necessary in the learning process.
here's another dad trick my father always uses when opening blocks of cheese:
cut an X in the top of the wrapper and fold the edges down neatly so your cheese blocks don't look like a grizzly bear came and mangled up the plastic. i have not cut a block of cheese in a different way since my dad showed me this little tactic.
it's also just easier to close up and reopen until all the cheese is gone. voila! clean cheese opening for life.
so anyway, these tacos are super easy if you're comfortable enough in the kitchen to cut and cook chicken. all ya do is cook the sliced chicken pieces in a little olive oil in a pan until its almost cooked through, then add a container of salsa and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. and that's it!
these are the exact ingredients i remember my dad using in his tacos, so as much as i wanted to add more stuff to this particular batch, something about the pure & simple dad version tastes just right to me!
also, this simple version is probably quite palatable for kids or picky eaters alike.
i use reser's baja cafe medium salsa for this. i have made these tacos with a lot of different salsas in my day, but i find that something super fresh like the baja cafe is best. and then just str8 up iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. cilantro is optional if you like that stuff.
you're the real mvp if you not only brown your tortillas on a pan (which you most deeefinitely should), but melt some cheese on the tortilla, too.
^^^ i think i could eat that there tortilla with melted cheddar for every meal.
Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos
Makes about 6 medium sized tacos
Time: 25 minutes
- 2 large chicken breasts, thawed and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 16 oz. Reser's Baja Cafe medium salsa, or your favorite fresh salsa
- 1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, washed and thinly chopped
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- sour cream for topping
- cilantro (optional)
- medium sized flour tortillas
Heat a large pan with 2 TB olive oil on medium heat. Slice 2 chicken breasts into about 1/4 inch thick slices, and also slice again crosswise (into bite sizes). Add the chicken to the pan and season with salt and black pepper. Cook about 3-4 minutes on one side, flip with a spatula or fork and cook the other side about 3-4 more minutes.
When the chicken is still just very slightly pink, pour the entire 16 ounce container of salsa directly into the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and toss the chicken and salsa together so the chicken is covered. Allow the salsa to simmer (you may need to raise or lower the heat a little bit depending on your stove). Once the salsa is gently bubbling, let it all simmer together and stir frequently for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid in the salsa has thickened to almost the consistency of tomato paste.
While the chicken and salsa are simmering, shred the cheese, wash and chop the lettuce, and begin warming the tortillas in another pan.
When the chicken is cooked through and the salsa is thickened, assemble your tacos on the warmed tortillas. Add cheese, chicken & salsa combo, a little more cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. Add cilantro if desired.
This meal is truly easy to bring together. Once you've made it a couple of times, you can get it all done in about 20 minutes. Enjoy!!