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TACOS WITH SMOKED SIMPLEX-INFUSED CHICKEN

TACOS WITH SMOKED SIMPLEX-INFUSED CHICKEN

Food & More

INGREDIENTS
Equipment:
oven, Barbecook Oskar
Preparation time:
marinating (6 to 12 hours), smoking (4 hours), preparing the tacos (30 min)
Serves:
4 to 6 (leftover chicken + carcass can be frozen for chicken stock)
Of course – One 1.2 - 1.5 kg free-range chicken (preferably organic)
For the marinade:
15 g sugar, 20 g salt, a few sprigs of thyme, a small onion, 2 cloves garlic, a sprig of rosemary, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 bottles Simplex
For the tomato-mango salsa:
1 shallot, ½ sweet pepper, 10 cherry tomatoes, 1 handful coriander, 2 spring onions, 2 carrots, ½ mango, 1 avocado, salt, pepper, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 lime
To finish the taco:
10 wraps (or 10 taco shells), 120 g sour cream, ½ mango, 1 lime, some more coriander
For the crispy chicken skin:
Chicken skin (from the smoked chicken), 1 pinch cayenne pepper, paprika, honey, salt, pepper, olive oil, ground cumin

In the past few months, I frequently got out my Oskar smoker. This time, Oskar’s special task was to smoke a chicken. A delicious, tender chicken.

First, the chicken took a bath. With regard to this experiment, it was important to be off to a good start. The chicken’s bath was filled with Simplex beer. This is the newest creation by Brouwerij De Ranke, a brewery that has played a pioneering role in making tasty, authentic beer since the 1990s. The brewery’s Cuvée De Ranke and Saison De Ranke are two of my all-time favourites. Simplex is a light beer with an alcohol percentage of 4.5 and is explicitly described as not a lager. When my friends come to visit and want “just a beer”, I give them a Simplex. More authentic, better-tasting and – who knows – perhaps even healthier. So, our chicken bathed in Simplex beer. I added a few flavouring ingredients, like onion, garlic and herbs, and the chicken was ready for its bath. It happily floated around in its bath for an entire night. The chicken loved it!

After that, I let the chicken dry and placed it on the smoker for four hours. The temperature wasn’t really high: just 80 to 100°C. When the chicken was done, I plucked the meat from its legs.

I made a salsa from tomato, mango and – yes – avocado. A super food. I briefly marinated the chicken skin in honey and spices, after which I briefly roasted it in the oven to get it crispy. For the seeker of added value, you could say. Next, I filled taco shells with the salsa and the chicken and finished them with a little extra mango, coriander, sour cream and the crispy chicken skin. To further please the seeker of added value, I decorated them with some flowers from the garden. Beautiful on the photographs.

It may sound a little time-consuming – and perhaps it is a little – but the skin and the flowers are really an important part of this recipe. The final product was a smash hit. I haven’t made many tacos in the past, but I’m sure I will make this version many times.

Preparation

  1. Start with the chicken. I cut it in half. This makes it less difficult to put in bags with the marinade.
  2. Coarsely chop the onion and garlic. Crush the peppercorns. Mix the salt with the sugar, thyme, onion, rosemary, bay leaf, peppercorns, mustard and vinegar. Add the beer and stir.
  3. Transfer the marinade to freezer bags and add the chicken. You could also use a big plastic box. Set aside in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours. Turn every 3 hours to allow the marinade to be better absorbed.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Transfer to a rack and allow to dry for one or two hours. In the meantime, light the smoker using Barbecook Safedrop Charcoal Starter.
  5. Place the chicken on the rack. Fill the stock tray with stock and smoke the chicken for 4 hours, keeping the temperature between 80 and 100°C. Soak the smoke chips, drain, transfer them to tin foil and twist closed. Prick a few holes in it and place on the hot coals. Repeat this process once or twice.
  6. Take the chicken out of the smoker. If you want to be sure that the chicken is entirely done, use a wireless core thermometer.
  7. Pluck the meat from the chicken.
  8. Next, make the tacos. You can use ready-to-use shells, but if you drape a wrap across two bars of an oven rack and leave this for 5 minutes at 200°C you will have a taco shell.
  9. The salsa takes a lot of chopping. Finely chop the shallot, sweet pepper, cherry tomatoes, coriander, spring onions, half a mango and the avocado. Grate the carrots.
  10. Mix it all together. Add the vinegar, lime and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  11. For the finishing touch, stir a little lime juice into the sour cream. Chop a little extra coriander and cut a lime into wedges. Set aside.
  12. Cut the remaining mango half into thin matchsticks.
  13. For the crispy chicken skin (something I came up with in a flash): mix together the honey with the olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, salt and pepper.
  14. Rub the chicken skin with the marinade. Transfer to a 200°C oven and roast for 5 to 7 minutes.
  15. Make sure the chicken skin does not burn. Remove, allow to cool down and chop into pieces.
  16. Assembly: take a taco shell. Fill with a good dollop of salsa. Top with the smoked chicken.
  17. Optional: the taco can now be heated briefly in the oven, topped with a little grated cheese if you like (5 minutes, 200°C).
  18. Finish with a dollop of sour cream, a few wedges of lime, mango matchsticks, coriander and the crispy chicken skin. Enjoy!

 I know. It’s a lot of work, but take it from one who knows: this will be a great success! Good luck!

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