It’s no secret that Mexico is home to a lot of incredible food, especially the stuff off the streets. They’re nothing like the “Mexican” food that we grew up eating (that’s more Tex-Mex, Americanized stuff ). When I was a kid, the only tacos I was familiar with were the ones made with ground beef , shredded lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes in a crunchy store-bought shell.
However, traditionally, a taco is more often using a soft corn tortilla. In an effort to not waste any part of the animal, Mexicans use cheaper beef and pork for the taco’s filling, mixing in stuff like beef hearts, liver, intestines, and other types of offal. Anything was fair game, really.
They also use chicken skin.
Yes, yes, you read that right. No drooling on the keyboard, please.
Crunchy, salty fried chicken skin in a taco. It sounds like it would be hell for your waistline but heaven for your mouth. This is not a dish for the faint of heart (or those in fear of a heart attack), but for those who are feeling courageous, eating it once in awhile will be quite rewarding. It really is quite delicious.
Here’s a take on it that I really like. Get some fried chicken skin, pair it with some burnt cream (a trick I learned Chef Him Uy de Baron), some nice fresh salsa, and a dash of Sriracha (or whatever hot sauce you have lying around).
Chicken Skin Tacos
Total Time: 45 minutes / Yield: 4-6 servings
- Flour tortillas (you can get them in supermarkets)
- 3 cups leeks, rinsed and roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sour cream
- 2 cups of tomatoes, small dice (nice and ripe, the best you can find)
- 1 onion, small dice
- 1 half cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 green chili, thinly sliced (this is the same one often used for sinigang)
- Fried chicken skin (I bought mine at Malcolm’s Deli at BGC, though you could deep fry some yourself)
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Heat up a non-stick pan, and put one tortilla in at a time and heat them up. It might bubble up because of the heat – use tongs to flatten it. It may also brown a bit – you’ll have to watch this – don’t let it color too much. Flip it over and do the same to the other side. Basically you’re not only heating it, but also lessening any “floury” taste.
- Set aside the tortillas on a plate and cover with towel.
- Toss leeks in some olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and lay on a sheet tray. Put this in the oven.
- After about 30 minutes, check your leeks. You’ll want to keep it in there until they almost burn (but not quite!) It may sound a little tricky, but all you need is to be vigilant – you want lots of caramelized brown bits. DO NOT WAIT TIL IT’S ALL BLACK. When you get that nice color, remove from oven. (The color is the key to the flavor.)
- Let it cool a few minutes, then put it in a blender with some sour cream. Blend until you get a nice creamy sauce. It’ll look brown.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly. You may even want to add some more acidity – a bit of lemon juice will do the trick.
- Mix tomatoes, onions, chili, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. (You can make this ahead of time and chill this for a bit to let flavors meld.)
- Toast chicken skin until it sizzles.
- To assemble: Take a tortilla. Smear with a spoonful of the cream sauce. Put some chicken skin. Top with salsa, and more cilantro if you want. Hot sauce optional.
- Scarf down. Make another one.