This shredded chicken is so easy to make, there’s not much to write about it! We really encourage our locavore CSA members to seek out pasture raised meats, especially from our friends at Autumn’s Harvest Farm. You’ll notice the difference when you try pasture raised meats, and one of the differences people inevitably notice is the price. The cost of supporting local farms can be higher, but there are ways to make it affordable for any budget. One of the ways I keep costs down is to always use whole chickens (we also eat less meat and more plant based meals). A whole chicken can usually be stretched into several meals, and the bones can made into homemade stock. For these tacos a whole chicken is poached in water and spices, it falls off the bones and easily shredded.
The chicken cooks fairly quickly, so I think this dish is easy to pull off, even on a weeknight. Get the chicken cooking on the stove, and then poke around the fridge for some taco toppings. Arrange everything buffet style on the counter and let everyone serve themselves. Taco bar is a frequent meal for us during tomato season! We’re serving these with homemade pico de gallo, carrot escabeche, greek yogurt, and fresh cilantro. Other toppings could be grated cheese, fresh corn off the cob, hot sauce, lettuce or arugula, anything you can think of.
When the chicken is cooked through, use tongs to transfer the it to a large bowl. Use the tongs and a fork to remove the chicken from the bones. Keep the bones and skin in one bowl and the meat in another. Shred the meat with two forks. You can simmer the chicken bones in the poaching liquid for a cumin scented broth – it will work great for black bean soup, tortilla soup, tamales, or anything with a Mexican flavor. If you want a more neutral tasting stock, use the bones in a fresh batch of water. I added a carrot, garlic cloves, and an onion to the poaching liquid with the bones. Simmer on very low for about 4 hours and strain.
1 whole pasture raised chicken (4 – 5 lbs)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
10 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic smashed
12 -14 cups water
Place chicken in a large tall pot. Add spices and garlic to the pot, and add water to cover chicken completely. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes. If chicken starts to float to the top, cover pot while simmering.
Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Use tongs and a fork to remove the meat. Shred meat while still warm. Use bones and skin with a carrot and onion in the poaching liquid to make a cumin based stock or reserve bones for regular stock. Serve shredded chicken on warm tortillas with pico de gallo, carrot escabeche, and desired toppings.
Pico de Gallo
Easy Pico de Gallo
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped into a fine dice
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, more or less if you prefer
1 – 2 serrano, jalepeno, or other hot peppers, seeded and minced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, grated
juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
Combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, hot peppers, and garlic in a bowl. Sir to combine. Add lime juice and salt, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keeps for 1 -2 days. Serve with corn chips or on tacos.
Refrigerator Carrot Escabeche
3 medium sized carrots
2 jalepeno or serrano peppers
1 red or yellow onion
4 – 6 cloves garlic
For the pickling liquid:
2 cups water
1 cup white or rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Peel carrots and onion. Slice carrots, peppers, and onions into 1/4 inch slices. Layer ingredients in a quart-size jar.
Simmer pickling liquid ingredients on the stove, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour warm liquid over vegetables, let cool. Refrigerate escabeche for 2 – 3 weeks if it lasts that long!
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