In Which We Throw a Taco Party

The Boy and I do not entertain terribly often – it’s not that we don’t like the idea of it, it’s just that we get busy and there isn’t anywhere to park near our current apartment and before you know it, it’s August! Which is neither here nor there, but for goodness sakes, how on earth did it get to be August?

Anyway. The one thing that you can be sure will happen when we DO entertain is that there will be food. Way. Too. Much. Food. In this case, way too much food, taco-style. Damn you, Bon Appetit, for being so inspiring!

We opted for two filling choices (choices for the fillings, though they were also filling):

  • Cumin and Ancho Chicken
  • Homemade Fresh Chorizo

Both of these  basically involved mixing or coating meat in a bunch of spices and then cooking it. Exhibit A, the chicken:

Coated in ancho chile powder, cumin, and salt.

And the chicken, fully cooked (if not yet chopped for taco-size biting):

Mmm…spiced chicken.

Exhibit B, the chorizo (the Boy was so kind as to sketch a pig face into it before cooking, so we could be aptly reminded of the adorable animal it once was. Thanks, Boy.):

I can see the pepper seeds…uh-oh.

Then you crumble it all up and you really do have homemade chorizo. This was astoundingly easy and, for those of us (not me) who are more familiar with chorizo, apparently very authentically flavored. So good on you, Bon Appetit!

Homemade chorizo!

We laid everything out on the breakfast bar with, oh, a few toppings. Let’s see…storebought Pico de Gallo and chipotle salsa, chopped radishes, homemade Taqueria Guacamole, and homemade Quick Pickled Onions. This allowed for a ridiculous amount of combinations, looked awesome, and was fun! Oh, and the homemade onions were killer.

Taco partay!

We did use store-bought tortillas, which were only ok, and my only regret for the party (well, my main regret – I sort of wished we gone with a fish filling or something that would have added a touch more flavor variety, as the chicken and chorizo had similar flavor profiles).

Overall, however, this is a relatively easy and quite yummy spread for a crowd! Do it up!

TACOOOOOOOS.

I’m only including the filling recipes here…the topping recipes are linked to above in the body of the post!

Cumin and Ancho Chicken
Recipe from Oliver Strand for Bon Appetit

Ok, so we didn’t technically use chicken thighs for this, since we had breasts in the freezer and I am a big fan of using whatever the heck is in my fridge or freezer before I forget about it entirely and its five months later and the Boy and I are going, “…so…can we eat this?” So maybe with thighs it’s a bit moister. But this was still yummy! It had a little kick but nothing too terrible (and I’m a wimp about spicy food, too).

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Note: Ancho chile powder is available at Latin markets and some supermarkets.

Preparation
Toss chicken with ancho chile powder, cumin, and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl to coat. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a thin layer of oil. Working in batches, place thighs in skillet in a single layer (do not crowd). Cover and cook until a crust forms, about 5 minutes. Turn; cook, uncovered, until thighs are just cooked through, 3–4 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter; let rest for 5 minutes.

Cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer with any accumulated juices to a medium bowl. Season with salt.
Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool slightly. Cover; chill. Rewarm before serving.   

Homemade Fresh Chorizo
Recipe from Oliver Strand for Bon Appetit

As stated above, apparently this really tastes like chorizo. It’s also got a kick, but nothing killer. I will say that I don’t know whose appetites they were referring to when they said six servings, because we had what seemed like endless amounts of this. Seriously. We eventually had to throw it out. One can only eat so much chorizo.

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients
6 dried New Mexico chiles
8 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground pork

Note: Dried New Mexico chiles are sold at specialty foods stores, Latin markets, and some supermarkets. Smoked paprika is available at most supermarkets.

Preparation

Heat a large dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles; toast, turning often, until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cool.

Using kitchen scissors and working over a medium bowl, cut chiles into 1″ rings, reserving seeds and discarding stems. Cover with 1/2 cup hot water; let soak, stirring occasionally, until chiles are soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.  Transfer chiles with seeds and soaking liquid to a blender. Add garlic, paprika, 1 Tbsp. salt, and pepper; pulse until a paste forms.

Combine pork and chile paste in a large bowl. Gently mix until just blended (do not overwork the meat).

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook chorizo until cooked through, 7–8 minutes. (Be sure to let meat brown before turning and breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon or spatula.) Season with salt.  
Do Ahead: Chorizo can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving.

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