I wanted to try my hand at a mole, but was a little intimidated by the time involved and the length of the ingredients list. Thank goodness for Sally Schneider’s great shortcut in her fantastic book A New Way to Cook: mole rub. You combine a handful of the dry ingredients common to many moles, and instead of all that labor-intensive, hours-in-the-kitchen madness, you get an approximation of the original without as much work. It’s not a 30-minute dinner, but it’s still easier than the traditional option. (If you were Rachel Ray, or at the least expedient in the kitchen, and perhaps had some assistance, you probably could make this a 40-minute meal. Prep the salsa while the chicken roasts and you’re pretty much there.)
The real point is this: these tacos taste incredibly, superbly good, but are also secretly really healthy. Elizabeth at brooklyn supper nicely sums up the healthy vs. tasty debate: if it’s more healthy than it is tasty, you relegate it to the annals of dinner at the co-op; if it happens to taste more tasty than it does healthy, you’ve pretty much won. And these tacos do. They are fresh and light with a little heat, messy the way any taco should be, and stupidly good. I could eat the salsa by the spoonful.
Chicken Tacos with Avocado Salsa
2 lbs chicken legs
feta or cotija cheese for tacos
For Mole Rub:
adapted from Sally Schneider’s A New Way to Cook
1.5 tsp. ancho chile powder
1.5 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt + pepper to taste
For Tomato Avocado Salsa:
1 lb. tomatoes, diced
2 small avocadoes, diced (or 1 large)
6 green onions, diced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
ample salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Whisk together mole ingredients in a bowl. (You will have leftovers of the rub. Seal in a glass jar for future use.)
Generously sprinkle each chicken leg with spice mixture and rub into meat. Place legs in a greased pan and cook for about 30-35 minutes, until done. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, shred chicken and mix together to redistribute spice rub. Set aside.
Combine all salsa ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.
Steam tortillas: either in an oiled pot over low heat with lid, or in tin foil in an oven set to 300. Once tortillas are soft, remove and place on plates. Spoon chicken, then salsa, and finally cheese onto each taco. Serve immediately.