Tacos Por Favor — Shredded Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

tacos chicken rotisserie chicken Bobby Flay Tomatillos Taco Tomatillo
I like to to say I’m a California girl born and bred, but when I hit the tender age of seventeen I was ready for anything but. I wanted away from brown hills and palm trees, dry desert air and eternal sunshine. So when I graduated from high school, I lost no time in packing up my life and heading for college in New England.

New England was a revelation – the summers were a deeper green than I have ever seen, shading through a multicolored fall into a grey and black and sometimes white winter. I dove into the culture, donning peacoats and woolen scarves, going apple picking and clam digging. I picked leaves in the fall and lilacs in the spring. And even now my years in Connecticut have changed me, making people who are die hard Easterners think I must be one too.

tomatillos tomatillo

But as much as I loved New England, and I do to this day, I remained a California girl at heart, and I think that a large part of this can be attributed to tacos. Tacos aren’t unique to California, but they’re a damn sight better here than I ever found in Connecticut. Every time I would go home for a visit, whether it was a flying Thanksgiving weekend or a long summer vacation, I headed straight for my favorite taco shop, Los Tacos, and indulged in machaca, carne asada, chile verde … I couldn’t get enough of those little corn tortillas filled with savory saucy meat, chopped onions and cilantro. I kept up my Los Tacos habit through college and law school (in New York) and then … reality hit.

tomatillo tomatillos blackened

I started a job, people, and I no longer had regular California vacations. And I hit a low in my taco consuming life. One night in a fit of desperation, I started searching online for anything that could possibly resemble an actual taco and still be recreated in my New York City apartment kitchen. And Bobby Flay, dear Bobby Flay, came to my rescue. Even though I think the whole concept of Throwdown is kind of jerky, I consider Bobby a close personal friend because he saved me from a taco-less existence.

tomatillo salsa green salsa verde

This story, of course, has a happy ending. I moved back to California (though I still miss New England desperately in the fall) and I now have a wealth of tacos at my disposal. Los Tacos yes, but also Loteria and Border Grill (which conveniently comes in a truck near my office). I can get Korean Tacos, Chinese Tacos, and Japanese Tacos. I am in Taco Nirvana.

But I still make these, because they’re just that good.

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 6 tomatillos, husked and washed (tomatillos look like small green tomatoes encased in a paper husk. They're not spicy at all and quite sour)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Olive oil
  • ½ small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken (You can make this with store bought rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken, but if you don't have any lying around, you can poach chicken breasts in chicken broth for about 15 minutes)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese (Cotija is a dryish Mexican cheese - you can substitute feta, which is saltier and sharper)
  • cilantro to garnish
  • Crema or sour cream to garnish
  1. Using the flame from a gas burner on a stove or a blowtorch (I use my creme brulee torch), blacken the skin on the tomatillos as much as possible.
  2. Place the tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the mixture to a saucepan, add the shredded chicken, and heat through.
  3. Heat the tortillas over the flame of a gas burner (better), or wrap in a damp paper towel and steam for 30 seconds in the microwave or a steamer. Spoon some of the chicken mixture into each tortilla, top with crumbled cheese, shredded cilantro and crema, and serve.
Adapted from Bobby Flay


14 comments to Tacos Por Favor — Shredded Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

  • Looks fabulous! I love, love fresh tomatillo salsa. Will definitely give this a try.

  • I think I want one of these for breakfast.

    (I’m not kidding.)

    Your posts are lovely – excellent writing and great-sounding recipes. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to make your pot roast with the canned soup, but now that fall is really here, I’m probably going to break down. After all, my favorite brisket recipe has ketchup in it.

  • P.S. Is your creme brulee torch large? I got one of the first ones out, and it was too small to do anything so I stopped using it. If you tell me you like yours, and you actually use it, I will consider getting another one as I’m sure they have been improved since I bought one.

  • These look incredible! I’m a Mexican food fanatic… mostly fish tacos :) I’ve never lived in New England, but we spend our summers North of the Cape & absolutely love our time there.

  • Yum! This looks so delicious! I heart the tomatillo!

  • Amen, California sister. Amen.

    In my head, I call the year I lived in New York as The Year of No Tacos. And these look amazing.

  • I grew up in New England and now live in SoCal. I don’t think I ever saw a tomatillo in New England, and now I love ‘em! Great recipe!

  • Emily

    Nice one! One of my new canning cookbooks, I think it is Eugenia Bone’s Well Preserved has a recipe for a tomatillo sauce that I have wanted to try but alas, no more tomatillos at the Oak Park farmers’ market. Unfair! I gather they are not related to tomatoes at all, but more like in the gooseberry family.

  • Hey California Girl! How have I not been to Loteria yet!? Seriously… crazy.

    Your tacos look absolutely amazing! Beyond delicious. Just enough to inspire to to enjoy Loteria this weekend. Thanks!

  • I love tacos, too. That’s one of the things I miss when I am overseas.

    These look delicious, especially the charred tomatillo sauce.

  • yumness! I love your first pic with the drizzled sourcream. I find it endearing that no matter how you make them, a good taco always get on your hands. Great blog!

  • I’m also from Southern California. Well, born in Canada, but moved to Northern CA in the late 60’s and wound up in Del Mar in 1972. Spent 20 years there enjoying all the wonderful Mexican food, but alas, I’m in Nebraska now. The Mexican restaurants aren’t terrible, but I find if I want something similar to what I grew up on, I need to make it myself. This sounds like an awesome recipe. I’ve never used charred tomatillos, but I’m willing to try. Unlike a charred bell pepper, am I correct to assume you DON’T peel a skin once it’s charred? Thanks for the mouth-watering recipe. I’ve come via Dine & Dish and will certainly return.

  • Kate those look scrumptious! I suddenly find myself wanting tacos for lunch :)

  • pambala

    Oh, I’ve been looking for a good tomatillo sauce recipe! This could be it! Looks heavenly!

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