Tonight's chicken tacos were the best dinner ever. In addition to both kids eating it, my daughter ate five radishes. Five! I've been putting beautiful little radishes on the table and eating them with great relish around my family for years now, but I I've never seen her eat more than one tiny nibble, until tonight. Truth be told, I don't even like radishes that much. But I eat them anyway.
I used to worry about what to do with the bunches we would have stacking up in our produce drawer, and at one point resorted to making a sort of radish cream cheese spread, which actually is quite good on toasted brown bread. The funny thing about radishes is that the longer you keep them, the spicier they get. So depending on whether you like them hot or not hot, leaving them in your fridge for a while may not be such a bad thing. And now that the majority of my family will eat them, I can grow them in the garden!
Getting back to the tacos, they were grand. Really delicious. Everybody loved them. They are super easy, though I wouldn't recommend waiting to roast the chicken until after 6 pm, it really needs a good hour to sit out and come to room temperature, then another hour in the oven. It can easily be roasted in the morning or the night before, but I would hate to miss out on the crispy salty roast chicken skin, which is one of the most delicious things on earth. Maybe we could just eat it with breakfast or whenever the chicken comes out of the oven.
Roast Chicken Tacos: (adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume 4)
This recipe will feed four, with lots of chicken left over. If you want to feed more people just get more tortillas, another pepper, avocado and lime. To make it into a really quick dinner you can roast the pepper and the chicken ahead of time. Both will keep for a day or two in the fridge.You could also pickup a pre-roasted chicken on the way home, if that is more convenient.
1 whole roasted chicken
a dozen or so corn tortillas (taco size)
1 avocado (or more if your family likes them), peeled and cut into slices
cotija cheese (as much as you want), crumbled
3 limes, sliced into wedges for squeezing
1 bunch fresh radishes, scrubbed clean with the leaves left on
1 fresh poblano chile pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced thinly (optional)
To roast the pepper, hold it with a pair of tongs over one of the gas flames on your stovetop. If you have an electric burner that heats up, you may be able to just lay the pepper on top, but I've never done it. Either way, be very, very careful to pay close attention to your chili, otherwise you may burn the house down. Have ready a small paper bag before you roast the pepper, and when the pepper is blackened and charred all over, drop it into the bag and close it. The pepper will steam a little bit, and in twenty minutes or so you can remove it from the bag and peel its skin off. Then slice it in half, cut out the stem, scrape out the seeds (being careful not to scrape out the flesh) and cut it into thin strips.
To roast the chicken, first make sure that it is brought up to room temperature before you put it in the oven. Otherwise, what should be an hour cooking time will become much longer. It takes at least a couple of hours out on our kitchen counter to warm up, but then we live in a place where the temperature is 55° on the first of August. At your house, the chicken may come to room temperature more quickly. You don't want to leave it unrefrigerated for too long in a warm location because bacteria will grow that can make you sick.
After the chicken has been out of the fridge for however long seems appropriate, preheat the oven to 400°. My oven is slow to warm, so I turn it on an hour beforehand. Lay out some paper towels on a big plate, and wash your chicken in the sink, then pat it dry on the plate. Next rub the inside of the body cavity and the outside of the bird with salt. I like lots of salt. If you want your chicken to look pretty, use some cooking twine (you buy it at the grocery store) to tie its legs together, as though it were crossing them. You can even throw a few fresh herbs in the body cavity beforehand if you want, thyme, parsley and rosemary give the meat a nice flavor. Place the chicken breast side up on a shallow oiled baking dish or baking sheet with high sides (at least a half inch or so) and put it into the oven. It will need to cook for about an hour, you can check it after 30 minutes, and when the skin is starting to look nice and browned, slice a knife into the thigh joint. If the juices run clear, then the chicken is done. Let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
Once the chicken is done, and the other ingredients have been prepared and put out in small bowls, call your people to the table and then toast the tortillas. Like roasting the chile pepper, lay a single tortilla over a low gas flame on your range for a few seconds, then flip it over using tongs. Once it is warm enough to fold in half, put it on a plate and pass it to the table, the lucky recipient can assemble their taco and eat it. Also like the pepper, be very careful not to let it catch on fire. Stovetop tortilla heating requires vigilance and I'm willing to bet that your local fire department would recommend you use the microwave instead. Should one happen to light up, quickly grab it with your tongs, drop it in the sink and douse it with water.
To assemble the tacos, put a couple pieces of chicken on the tortilla, add avocado, roasted chile, cheese, salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime. Radishes should be eaten separately, you can sprinkle a little salt on your plate and dip it in that.