Right around this time of year, is of course when I start getting excited about holiday parties, snow and Christmas, but it also happens to be the time I start looking forward to our annual Mexican vacation to Puerto Vallarta we take at the beginning of January. It’s a tradition Kevin and I started the second year we were dating, and one I plan on continuing well into our retirement years. There’s just something about getting away right after the holiday season is finished, and the cold weather and endless snow has started to lose its sparkly luster that’s irresistible and completely justifies the exorbitant flight rates.
This year, I’m growing a human who is due to make his or her appearance in t-minus 10 days, so a Mexican vacation full of sunshine, margaritas and Mexican beer isn’t exactly the most practical way to start off my early parenting weeks. So, like any responsible adult and soon-to-be parents, we are forgoing the sunshine for a quiet January at home, hibernating and snuggling with our newborn – a scenario I think is safe to to say, will be a hundred times better than all of the margaritas, authentic Mexican food and ocean views the world can offer us.
Although, just because we aren’t physically making the trip down south this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t bring a little bit of the Mexican ambience to us instead. There will be Mexican beers, cheese dip, enchiladas and these poblano and honey chicken tacos. They aren’t exactly the authentic street-style tacos I gorge on as I listen to the waves lap up against the shore, but they’re sweet, spicy and so delicious, it doesn’t even matter.
Plus, if I really wanted street tacos, I could just make these guys I perfected after our trip last year…
I’m not sure why I don’t use my slow-cooker more often, the ease is something that’s indisputable and the tenderness it gives to meats is unmatched by any other cooking method. Here, I used bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, covered them in sliced poblano peppers and a mixture of lime juice, honey, sriracha and garlic, turned the contraption on high and let it do its thing. After four hours the meat (which was falling off the bone and still moist), was shredded, then tossed back into the sweet and spicy cooking liquid along with a little bit of extra sriracha for optimal heat.
From there, the tacos come together pretty effortlessly. Flour or corn tortillas are charred, stuffed with the shredded chicken and then topped with plenty of homemade roasted poblano peppers, a good amount of chopped cilantro and a heavy hand of crumbled cotija cheese (feta would be a great substitute).
A squeeze of fresh lime juice for acid is an essential final step to complete the taco – don’t skip it!
- 3 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 poblano peppers, divided
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 teaspoons sriracha, divided
- 3 large garlic cloves, grated
- ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 8-10 taco-sized corn or flour tortillas
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- ½ cup cotija cheese
- 2 limes
- Place chicken in the bottom of a slow-cooker. Season liberally with salt. Slice one poblano pepper, sprinkle over chicken.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, 2 teaspoons sriracha, garlic and salt. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook in the slow-cooker on high for 3½-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours, meat should be falling off the bone and easy to shred.
- While the meat cooks, roast remaining two peppers over a gas stove or under the broiler until charred on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Peel off skin, remove stem and seeds. Slice into strips.
- Once the meat is tender, remove chicken from pot. Shred with two forks. Spoon any fat that has come to the top off of the cooking liquid. Return the shredded chicken back to the cooking liquid. Add another teaspoon of sriracha if it's not spicy enough and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat tortillas up in either the microwave wrapped in paper towels, or over a gas grill. Fill with shredded chicken, top with roasted poblano pepper, cilantro and cheese. Finish off with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. (Don't skip the lime juice!)