Friday, October 10, 2014

Paprika and Lime Chicken Tacos with Goat Cheese Queso

Before we talk about these deliciously smoky chicken tacos with creamy goat cheese queso, I want to talk a little about my food philosophy. If I boil it down and this will come as a shock to you, my philosophy is this: I love food. Really, truly love food. Love growing it, cooking it, and eating it.

Once upon a time, I ate a lot of processed food. Junk. Then I started to read about food. Many of us have either read or heard of the books that altered my perspective on food namely, The Omnivores Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Then I dove deeper and read everything about food I could get my hands on. Where my food came from, how it was grown, and cooking became enormously important to me. I shifted to eating and cooking with whole foods. I began to try to cook and bake everything. I made tortillas, cheese, loaf bread, muffins, pretzels, and crackers all from scratch. I began to develop a real understanding of what went into the food I ate.

I now make almost everything consumed in our house because it allows me to control the ingredients. I'm not saying this is for everyone. It is a ton of work but I do think as a culture overall we have developed an unhealthy relationship with food. We obsess about what we eat in all the wrong ways. Fad diets have taken over our lives. We shouldn't be limiting what we eat, rather spending more time in the kitchen cooking. Cooking allows you to deepen your relationship with food. Yes, that's right, your relationship with food. It's an important one as it sustains you everyday.

 How do the Italians and French manage to stay slim, while eating all the cheese and baguettes they want? Because they cook everything. They make the pasta and cheese. The food they consume is made with real whole food ingredients as opposed to the crap that goes into a box of cheerios. Wheat, dairy, and red meat are not evil but the way we consume them can be. So am I saying pull out the pasta maker and get rolling? Yes and no. Try it once. It's a pain and also makes the best pasta you will ever have. Once you understand that pasta is made from flour, eggs, salt, and olive oil, you can understand what to look for when you buy it in a package. What I am saying is cook often. Do as the French do and embrace cheese. Do as the Italians do and enjoy multi-course meals that last an evening. Embrace cooking and you will really be able to embrace and enjoy eating. And who doesn't love to eat?

Now onto these tacos. It's really all about the goat cheese queso here. Spicy jalapeno and garlic queso that comes together in a few minutes. The base of the goat cheese sauce is a roux, which is the fancy term for fat and flour combined. This adds richness and thickens your sauce. The chicken is rubbed with some smoky spices and roasted in a bed of limes and onions. Top it off with a little avocado and tomato and you are onto something.

Paprika and Lime Chicken Tacos with Goat Cheese Queso
Adapted from How Sweet It Is, serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 limes, sliced into 8 wedges

Spicy goat cheese queso
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 jalapeno, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces goat cheese

To serve
Corn tortillas
2 tomatoes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. Rub both sides of the chicken breast with the rub.

Spread sliced onion over the bottom of the baking dish. Place the chicken breast on top. Place lime wedges around the chicken breasts. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Using two forks shred the chicken breasts.

About 10 minute before the chicken is done cooking, make your queso. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the jalapeno and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your flour and stir constantly until it turns golden brown. Reduce heat to low and pour in milk. Stir until the mixture thickens,  2-3 minutes. Add the goat cheese and stir until it melts.

Pile chicken, avocado, tomatoes, and lettuce on your tortilla and drizzle the queso over the top.

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