This post is sponsored by Goya Foods. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with authentic Mexican flavor!
While I readily acknowledge the problematic nature of Cinco de Mayo as it is celebrated around these parts, I also admit to the reality that I am a human who is entirely steeped in U.S. culture. That means that while I am wary of stereotyping and cultural appropriation, come the beginning of May, I begin to crave tacos, spicy salsas, and fresh corn tortillas. It’s weirdly Pavlovian.
Recently, the nice folks at Goya asked me if they could sent me a box of ingredients, in the hopes that I might create my own festive Cinco de Mayo meal. Never one to turn down a challenge, I was happy to play along (though painful conscious of the opportunities to be offensive).
After a bit of mulling, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to show you my favorite pulled chicken taco trick and let you determine how and when to serve it. Because truly, this chicken is easy, everyday food that is hugely flexible and quite delicious (on any day of the year).
You start with about three pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs. Because my mother taught me to be compulsively thorough about such things, I like to spend a little time cutting away pockets of fat (this step isn’t entirely necessary, but makes me feel better). Then I season the meat on both sides with salt, pepper, ground cumin, and dried oregano (opening the bottle of cumin from Goya made me realize that the jar on my shelf needs to be thrown out. Theirs was so much more flavorful!).
Once the meat is seasoned, I heap it into the Instant Pot. Then I pour two pints of homemade salsa* and a generous tablespoon of crushed garlic into the blender and puree until mostly smooth. The salsa slurry goes into the pot and the lid goes on. I run the Instant Pot on manual for 30 minutes.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can also do this in a stove top pressure cooker for 25-30 minutes, in a regular sauce pan for a couple of hours, or in a slow cooker for 5-6 hours.
While the chicken cooks, I dice an onion and a red pepper and cook them until tender. Once they’re sweet and have lost their crunch, I add a can of black beans (love the easy pull tabs on the Goya cans. I weirdly hate can openers, so these cans spare me that annoyance) and season it with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and a little lime juice.
I also shred a little cabbage and toss it with salt, lime juice, and olive oil for a little taco crunch.
When the chicken is done, it’s time to assemble the tacos. Toast a couple corn tortillas until warm and pliable. Using a pair of tongs, squeeze a portion of the pulled chicken until you think it won’t saturate your tortilla with juices and lay it down. Top it with a few crumbles of cojita cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and some of the shredded cabbage (a slice of avocado and some fresh cilantro would be good, but I didn’t have any).
Serve with a side of the beans (or heap those into their own tortillas).
Oh, and if you have leftover pulled chicken, try using in a enchilada casserole or thin the cooking liquid out and turn it into tortilla soup. It’s also good stirred into a pot of homemade chili.
*You can also use store bought salsa. You just want to have between 28-32 ounces of liquid go into the pot. I’ve also done with peach salsa to delicious effect. Truly, it’s hard to go wrong with boneless skinless chicken thighs!