Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s another culture smash-up. This time inspired by my desire to have fish tacos, when in fact, I had a chicken thawing in the sink! (I had planned greek chicken) So my thought process went something like this: “Fish tacos sound really great right now- a little citrus, a little crunch, a little fresh veg, a little heat….hmmmm…. but I have greek chicken ready to go..” So I figured, what the heck- greek chicken is lemon and garlic and oregano- and I happened to be using the spicy mexican oregano, so what if I subbed out the fish for the chicken, played up the citrus and added a little heat? Voila! Greek Chicken Tacos..
Now, I will say that the prep time was longer than I would have liked, but I was also feeling my way through the dish. Do plan for a little extra time to chop up the chicken. Of course, I was chopping up a 6 lb bird. You could just use a few boneless skinless breasts or thighs- it would go a lot faster….
This is one of those fun buffet dinners where you can add your favorite ingredients to your taco. I’ll give you a list of what we had on our ‘taco buffet’ and some brief instructions on how to bake the greek chicken. The point of this is to have fun- experiment with flavor combinations, and if you have kids- invite them to help prepare the buffet.
black beans pureed with cumin and a little chicken stock
white rice cooked in chicken stock with lemon wedges and cilantro
El Pinto red sauce (one of my faves!)
A shameless plug for El Pinto here. They are one of my favorite family owned restaurants in Albuquerque. The food is heavenly- there is nothing like authentic Rio Grande River Valley Cuisine- and yes, it gets its own category! The service is just what you’d expect, and the chile sauce- both red and green…. well what can I say? When my family from New Mexico visit, they always show up with a few jars of El Pinto. Happily, when I’ve finished those, I can mail order. Once you’ve fallen in love with New Mexico green and red chile, there’s no going back.
Now onto the chicken
enough for 1 bird, chopped into pieces- reduce if just using breasts or thighs
3 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 tbs lemon pepper
1 tbs dried mexican oregano (also called spicy oregano)
Preheat your oven to 350. Place pieces in an oven safe dish- I used a 9×9 clay brownie dish. You want them to fit snugly. Brush the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic cloves, lemon pepper seasoning, and oregano. If you are feeling adventurous and you want to add a little heat at this point, you could sprinkle some chipotle powder on, or some diced jalapeños. Slice the lemon into thin disks and place on top of the chicken pieces. Depending on how much chicken you use, you may need as many as 2 lemons.
Bake until internal temperature on the thickest part of the bird is 170- about 1 1/2 hours. This will vary depending on how much meat you use, what you cook it in, and how hot your oven truly is. Use a thermometer, check after 1 hour, and every 15 minutes thereafter. If you’re cooking only a few pieces and are using your toaster oven, check the temperature every 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover and let rest an additional 10 minutes- this will not only give the juices time to redistribute, it will give it time to cool down enough that you can chop it into little bits.
Chop and serve with your favorite taco ingredients. Or, leave pieces whole and serve over a bed of rice. Enjoy!