We’ve done chicken tacos before. Though they usually involve picking up a rotisserie chicken and adding a few things on top. It makes for a quick meal any day of the week.
But we’ve never roasted a chicken for tacos before. Sure, we’ve roasted chickens, but it’s usually an occasion to do so. Why? No idea. Maybe because it takes so darn long. Maybe it because it reminds us of roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving, and that is definitely a once-a-year ordeal.
And to be honest, I’m not sure that the act of roasting this one ourselves actually made it any better than if we HAD used a rotisserie chicken. All that delicious seasoning and butter we smeared on before? Couldn’t really taste it. Sure, the chicken was incredibly moist, but the extra effort didn’t add anything to the dish. I think the onions were really the only things that benefited from the seasoning and extra long roasting process. And maybe the pan sauce – it actually made good use of the compound butter that the chicken failed to absorb.
Maybe this is why I am always so excited when the simplest of dishes turn out to be so delicious. Proof that, hey, you DON’T have to slave away in the kitchen for hours to produce an outstanding meal. That is only strengthened by the fact that this chicken, which we DID spend hours preparing, fell a bit flat.
That’s not to say the tacos weren’t good, though we did doctor them up a bit by adding refried beans, feta cheese, and lime juice. Without that pan sauce it wouldn’t even be worthy of a post. I think the chipotle butter definitely has potential – but shouldn’t be wasted on the outside of a chicken. I say, instead, grab yourselves some cubed chicken, and cook it directly in that butter. That would make for some good tacos, WITHOUT the 2+ hour time commitment.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves plus 3 fresh cilantro sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves plus 3 fresh oregano sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in resealable plastic bag with mallet
1 5 1/2- to 6-pound roasting chicken, rinsed, patted dry; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
2 large onions, each cut into 8 wedges through root end, leaving root ends intact
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
8 warm corn tortillas
1 cup refried black beans
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 lime, cut into wedges
Using fork, mix butter, all chopped herbs, chipotle chiles, and crushed coriander in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place chicken, breast side up, in large roasting pan; place reserved neck, heart, and gizzard alongside. Starting at neck end of chicken, slide fingers under skin to loosen, being careful to avoid tearing. Spread all but 1 tablespoon seasoned butter over breast meat and thigh meat under skin. Rub any butter remaining on fingers over outside of chicken. Sprinkle main cavity of chicken with salt and pepper; place all herb sprigs in cavity. Tie legs together loosely.
Place onion wedges in large bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon seasoned butter in small saucepan over low heat; pour over onion wedges and toss to coat. Arrange onions around chicken. Sprinkle onions and chicken with salt and pepper.
Roast chicken and onions 30 minutes. Scatter garlic cloves around chicken; add 1/4 cup broth to roasting pan. Continue to roast chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 170°F, basting occasionally with pan juices and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed to maintain juices in roasting pan, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove roasting pan from oven. Tilt chicken, draining juices from cavity into pan. Transfer chicken, onions, and garlic to platter. Tent with foil to keep warm. Add 1/4 cup broth and wine to pan. Place over 2 burners and bring juices to boil, scraping up browned bits. Strain juices into bowl. Discard fat from top of juices.
Cut meat from chicken (reserve 1 1/3 cups for tostadas). Serve, making tacos with warm tortillas, a layer of black beans, chicken, onions, garlic, feta, and avocado. Drizzle tacos with pan juices and a splash of lime.