Here’s a little recipe that’s probably quite a bit different than any you may have tried. It was for me, anyway. It’s Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa and its a fun, play on flavors.
In this case, the Salsa steals the show. The Cherry Chipotle Salsa is deep, earthy, & smokey with just a bit of a bite. The caramelized onions add depth and those the cherries (I used the big, sweet ones, but any cherry will be good) add a touch of sweetness to play off the Chipotle. The balsamic vinegar in the salsa really makes it lean a bit toward the Italian side and while it’s so fun with the tacos, try dabbing it onto toasted crostini slathered with Ricotta if you have any leftover salsa.
About Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa:
The salsa is really the star of the show in this recipe and does take a bit of time to make, so in order to concentrate on that, I kept the shredded chicken taco filling simple and straight forward. There’s a lot of room to play with flavors of the chicken and adjust to your heat level, which is great if you’re serving this up to the family.
And even though I think you’d be missing out if you don’t make the salsa, this quickie shredded chicken, alone, is great in a more traditional taco or any place else you’d like to use it. Tostadas, maybe. Taquitos. I tossed cooked, shredded chicken (any leftover or rotisserie) with my homemade taco seasoning (a store-bought packet will work, too) to transform it into something that you’ll think was simmered away for hours.
If you want to get fancier, or don’t have any leftover chicken to shred up, you can quickly poach up some chicken or you can try my shredded Chicken Tinga (which I think should always be in your freezer – yeah, it’s that good and make ahead) or my Instant Pot Chicken Tinga.
This Cherry Chipotle Salsa is also very good with the bright red cherries and white balsamic vinegar. Just sayin’. Don’t be afraid to riff on it. I also almost always garnish with thinly sliced green onions; it gives the salsa a little fresh boost.
Making Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa:
Both the salsa and the chicken are really straightforward. As far as the salsa, you’ll need time to slowly cook the caramelized onions and don’t rush it. The bit of sugar does help with the browning, but they are best done low and slow. It’ s pretty quick from there, but it is always a bit of a judgment call to determine when the salsa is finished. The cherries should be slightly softened and the juices will thicken. I like to cook it until a spoon run through the pan leaves a trail on the bottom of the pan that doesn’t immediately fill in.
If you have leftover or rotisserie chicken, the chicken filling goes really quickly. If your leftover isn’t shreddable (maybe it’s been sitting in the fridge and isn’t quite shreddable) heat it up by steaming for several minutes, then proceed with the recipe. If you don’t have chicken, poach some; directions are in the recipe.
The salsa goes especially well with the clean hot flavors in my Smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning and works well with this milder family-friendly Taco Seasoning, or you can choose your favorite home-made or store-bought taco packet.
Saving Money on Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa:
As long as you’ve got a good price on the key ingredients (like buying the chicken & cherries on sale) you’ll probably find that the biggest potential for savings is how you serve these and what you bring to the table. A taco or tostada and a few sides will help stretch the meal whereas a big ol’ burrito will need a lot more filling. We had a bit of leftover after our tacos – it made wonderful quesadillas. The salsa will freeze well if there’s any left.
Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa
Note: this recipe uses precooked chicken. If you don’t have any, poach boneless chicken breasts (about a pound to a pound and a 1/4) in barely simmering water for about 10 minutes, until done, remove and shred when cool enough to handle.
Cherry Chipotle Salsa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, cut in half, pole to pole, then into thin slices, pole to pole
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups cherries, pitted (if large, roughly chop)
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo from a can of Chipotles in Adobo, or to taste, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste (heavy on the pepper)
In a heavy saucepan or skillet, heat olive oil to medium-high heat. Add onions and cover for several minutes, opening to stir, until onions have softened. Sprinkle with sugar and continue to cook, without the lid, stirring now and then and more often towards the end, until onions are soft, caramelized and towards the dark side of golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes total.
Add pitted cherries, the chipotle pepper, garlic and balsamic and cook until cherries have softened and when a spoon is run along the bottom of the pan, the mixture doesn’t fill in the trail, another five minutes or so, stirring often. If the salsa becomes too thick, adjust by adding water by the tablespoon.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Mixture may thicken upon cooling and, again, if it becomes too thick may be thinned with a bit of water.
Serve warm or cold.
Chicken & Garnishes:
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about three breasts)
- 2 tablespoons (or to taste) of taco seasoning, preferably Smokin’ Chipotle Taco Seasoning or this milder family-friendly Taco Seasoning, or your favorite home-made or store-bought.
- 1/4 cup water
- Garnishes may vary but might include Sour Cream or Crema, cheese of your choice, cilantro and/or lime; the salsa is especially good with thinly sliced green onion
Add chicken, taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water to pan. Cover and heat over medium-low heat until warmed through, stirring once or twice. Remove lid and continue to cook until the mixture is dry (doesn’t fill in) when a spoon is run across the bottom.
Lid and keep warm for serving.
Be sure to join us at Fiesta Friday, where I’ll be sharing Chicken Tacos with Cherry Chipotle Salsa. Fiesta Friday is an ongoing weekly link party (where bloggers post their best creations each week. This week, the co-hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life.