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~ Light & Easy Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken Tacos ~

IMG_4095What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms.  Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and tacos are the perfect marriage of two of our favorite foods.  But, are these tacos as good as, or as enjoyable as, eating chicken wings?  As a lady who loves wings, but, only in the privacy of my own home (where I'm free to lick my fingers, smack my lips, get goo stuck in my teeth, and, drip sauce on my blouse), yes, while different, these are as enjoyable as chicken wings.

Lucky lovers of all-things Buffalo-wings: it comes in many forms.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4b6e83e200cIn my family alone, Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nanchos, Buffalo-Style Shredded Chicken 'n Slaw Sliders, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Style Chicken Dip, Spicy Blue-Cheesy Buffalo-Chicken Quesadillas, Batter-Dipped Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Subs, Sweet-and-Savory-Glazed Buffalo-Chicken Meatballs, and, Almost Effortless Chunky Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili are favorite wing-night or game-day options.  Tonight: It's Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken Tacos that are on my dinner menu.

Diced chicken doused in Buffalo sauce w/celery & carrots:

IMG_4052For the sauce, chicken & veg sauté, tacos shells, &, garnishes:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d22f43d0970cFor the Buffalo-style sauce:

In a 2-cup measuring container, in the microwave, melt:

2  ounces salted butter (1/2 stick)

whisk in (honey 1st, RedHot 2nd):

6  tablespoons honey

1  cup Frank's RedHot

Set aside and prepare the chicken sauté as directed below.

IMG_4005For the chicken & vegetable sauté:

2  pounds small-diced, boneless, skinless chicken chicken thighs* 

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

1  tablespoon each:  Frank's Original Redhot Seasoning and Frank's RedHot Buffalo-Ranch Seasoning

2  teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2  cups each:  peeled and 1/4'-sliced carrots, 1/4"-sliced celery, and, 1/4"-sliced green onions, white and light green parts only

all sauce, from above recipe

*Note: The easiest way to get a nice dice out of bonelesss thighs is to lay them flat on a parchment-lined pan and freeze them for about 30 minutes, just long enough to firm them up a bit.

IMG_4056For the taco shells & garnishes:

16  fresh corn tortillas, deep-fried in corn oil to a crunchy-but-still-pliable state, 45 seconds each

2  cups shredded iceberg lettuce

all the sautéed chicken and vegetable mixture

1  cup blue cheese crumbles

Hidden Valley Ranch dressing

Ready, set, go.  It's time to make some Buffalo chicken tacos:

IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4007 IMG_4023 IMG_4023 IMG_4023 IMG_4023 IMG_4023~Step 1.  Heat the oil in a 3 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron skillet over low heat.  Add the diced chicken to the skillet and season it with the RedHot and Buffalo-ranch seasonings and salt.  Increase heat to medium-high and sauté, stirring constantly with a large spoon, until chicken is firming up, 3-4 minutes.  Add the sliced carrots, celery and green onions. Continue to sauté, stirring constantly until vegetables are softening but still crunch tender, 3-4 minutes.  Using the spoon remove (and discard) all but a thin layer of juices from bottom of pan.  

IMG_4035 IMG_4035 IMG_4035 IMG_4035~Step 2.  Add and stir in 1 cup of the sauce (there will be 1/2 cup remaining, which I serve at table side for those who want to live dangerously).  Turn heat off, cover skillet and set aside for 45-60 minutes, to allow chicken and vegetables to soak up the sauce and flavors of the sauce.

IMG_3711 IMG_3711 IMG_3711~ Step 3.  While chicken is steeping, now is the time to deep-fry the corn tortillas. In a deep-fryer containing corn or peanut oil and preheated to 360° according to manufacturer's specifications (or, in a sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer on  stovetop), deep-fry each tortilla to a crunchy-but-still-pliable state, 45 seconds. Remove tortilla from oil, place it on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and season with a fresh grinding of sea salt.  Arrange finished tortillas in a wooden taco rack or on a  serving platter.

IMG_4059 IMG_4059 IMG_4059 IMG_4059 IMG_4059 IMG_4078 IMG_4078 IMG_4078~Step 4. To assemble the tacos, evenly distribute the shredded lettuce into bottom of the prepared taco shells. Evenly distribute  chicken and veggie mixture atop lettuce in each shell. Scatter cheese crumbles over the chicken mixture, followed by a drizzle of dressing.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature -- like you would eat a refreshing Summertime sandwich.

Light & easy?  I can't eat just three. So much for my diet. 

IMG_4096Light & Easy Buffalo-Style Skinny Chicken Tacos:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups sauce and 5 generous cups filling, enough generously fill 16 tacos.

Special Equipment List: 2-cup measuring container; whisk; cutting board; chef's knife; deep-fryer or 4-quart saucepan; paper towels; wooden taco rack or serving platter; 3 1/2-quart enameled cast-iron skillet or 12" cast-iron skillet; large spoon or spatula

IMG_3792Cook's Note: Mexican food is a favorite of mine, but I often wish it wasn't.  Don't misunderstand me -- I can and will gobble up all its flavor-packed goodness with the best of 'em.  It's next to impossible for anyone me to resist the melty or crumbly cheeses along with the creamy-rich refried beans, guacamole and crema.  That said, more often than not, when dinner is done, I find myself wishing I'd exercised (pun intended) even a modicum of restraint.  Hence my recipe for  ~ Light & Easy Tex-Mex-Style Skinny Chicken Tacos ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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