This recipe answers the question of what to do with leftover roasted chicken. It also answers how to make something fun and delicious and healthy that says summertime. I know it seems like I am asking a lot of this taco recipe, and I am because it delivers.
Brian and I really love roasted chicken. We can make four meals just out of the thighs and legs. We use the carcass to make chicken broth. Then we are left with the breast meat which we are decidedly less enthusiastic about. How unenthusiastic are we? At our wedding, we only served chicken thighs.
We do enjoy tacos. We always have an onion or two laying around, garlic on hand, and a random bell pepper on life support in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. So the other night when faced with chicken breast meat that had to be used or frozen, I was excited to make one of my favorite dishes: tacos! I was even more excited to experiment and use lettuce in place of tortillas.
If, like me, you have an autoimmune disease and grains are causing you problems from digestive distress to inflammation, I highly recommend lettuce wraps in lieu of corn or flour tortillas.
Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4 (and possibly more)
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 bell peppers, sliced (I prefer orange or yellow)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/3 to 1/2 cup of your favorite green salsa*
Chicken pan juices (drippings), optional
Chicken skin, finely chopped, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
One head of butter lettuce
Any toppings you would like from sliced avocado to black beans to cheese to hot sauce
*The salsa you choose is very important because it is one of the main sources of flavor in the dish. For chicken tacos, I prefer something green with a little bit of kick such as Trader Joe's Hatch Chile Salsa.
In a large skillet over medium heat add 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Stir to combine. Stir occasionally to keep the garlic and vegetables from burning. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes until the onion is starting to brown on the edges. Add the chicken and the salsa and stir to combine. If you have chicken juices from cooking the whole chicken and chicken skin, add them with the salsa. Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid from the salsa has evaporated.
While the vegetables and chicken are cooking, slice the root off the butter lettuce so all the leaves are separated. Wash the lettuce leaves gently on both sides to remove any extra dirt. Dry the lettuce leaves gently. Notice the gently part? If the leaves are handled aggressively, they might break and there goes your taco shell, and nobody needs that kind of frustration when taco happiness is involved.
To serve, set up a buffet of lettuce leaves next to the chicken taco filling next to toppings so people can go through like an assembly line. Also, you've worked hard so get someone else to do the dishes. :)
Nutritional awesomeness: Chicken is a good source of protein, niacin, and Vitamin B6. Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, is beneficial in balancing blood cholesterol levels. Yellow and orange bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They have a low glycemic load. Onions are an excellent source of Vitamin K, which helps blood clot and assists in transporting calcium around the body (source).