I chose to make the Chipotle Chicken Nachos, mainly because I couldn’t get over how delicious they looked. I can now confirm that they also taste delicious – sweet and a little smoky, with falling-apart tender chicken and just the right amount of sauce. While I went the whole nine-yards and fried my own corn tortilla chips, I actually liked the filling the best without any garnish, rolled up in a soft, warm corn tortilla. Making the filling is simple – a matter of throwing the sauce ingredients in the blender, sauteeing peppers and onions, and briefly poaching chicken thighs in boiling water. Definitely a good addition to any weeknight meal rotation.
Chipotle Chicken Nachos
Serves 8 as an appetizer.
Notes: If you’re trying to get dinner on the table fast, roasting the garlic (step 1) might be best done the morning or even the night before dinner is served. Two alternative ways to serve this dish that I really enjoyed are to 1) prepare the chicken ropa vieja and serve in warm corn tortillas as tacos and 2) prepare the chicken ropa vieja and mix with cooked rice or couscous and serve in a bowl.
For the Chicken Ropa Vieja:
- 20 cloves garlic, divided, peeled
- 2 TBS olive oil
- sea salt, used throughout recipe
- 3 Spanish onions, divided, peeled
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 c. vegetable oil
- 2-3 red bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
- 4 canned chipotles in adobo
- 1 c. ketchup
- 1 c. chicken stock
- 2 TBS Spanish smoked sweet paprika
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place 6 of the peeled garlic cloves in a piece of tinfoil, drizzle with the olive oil and sea salt, and fold the edges of the tinfoil up to make a closed packet. Roast the garlic in this packet (seam side facing up in the oven to avoid leaks!) for 45 minutes – garlic should be tender when done.
- While garlic is roasting, bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil. Take one of the onions and roughly chop it. Add this onion, the bay leaf, and the chicken to the boiling water, lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer the chicken for 10-14 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the water with a slotted spoon to a bowl, let cool, then shred into bite-size pieces by hand. Set aside. Discard the cooking water and onion.
- Finely chop the remaining 14 cloves of garlic and 2 onions. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, then add the chopped onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until beginning to soften.
- While vegetables are sauteing, combine the roasted garlic, chipotles in adobo, ketchup, chicken stock, and paprika in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the sauce to the vegetables and cook at a gentle simmer until mixture is reduced by one quarter, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken and heat through. Continue with nacho recipe or serve as mentioned in head note above.
For the Nachos:
- 12 small (6-inch) corn tortillas OR 1 bag corn tortilla chips
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 c. grated cheese
- 2 avocados, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 4 radishes, washed and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 c. Mexican crema OR sour cream
- If making your own chips, stack the tortillas in groups of 4 and cut each stack into 6 triangles. Separate the triangles. Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry the tortillas in batches until golden brown and crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel lined baking tray.
- Top chips with the chicken ropa vieja mixture and sprinkle with grated cheese. If serving to a crowd, do this in a casserole dish and broil on high for 2-3 minutes to melt the cheese. If making for yourself, do this on a plate and just pop in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Top nachos with avocados, radishes, and cilantro. Serve with crema/sour cream on the side.