Spice-rubbed Chicken Thigh Taco
Chicken breast always steals the spotlight, but in this recipe, the dark, moist thigh is the star. Rubbed with a Rick Bayless– and Yucatán-inspired recado (an achiote-based spice blend) and baked in the oven, the meat falls right off the bone and into your waiting tortilla.
Corn or flour tortillas
1/4 cup bitter orange juice or 3 tablespoons orange juice plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons achiote seeds
or achiote paste
1/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
8 whole black peppercorns
3 whole allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 pounds chicken thighs (about 4 large thighs)
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Chopped onion and cilantro
Limes, cut into wedges
For the recado, in a food processor or blender, combine the orange juice, water, achiote seed, cumin, oregano, thyme, peppercorns, allspice, paprika, garlic, and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium-size bowl and stir in the sesame seeds.
Add the chicken thighs to the bowl, turning to coat them well with the recado. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a pot or oven-safe pan with a lid, place the thighs, well-coated with the recado; cover, and bake for 50 minutes. Uncover the pot, raise the heat to 400°F, and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the skin is crisp and the meat is cooked through. When checking for doneness, remember that thigh meat is dark, and the meat may appear reddish even when done.
Remove the chicken thighs from the pot and shred the meat. Be sure to include the skin. Serve on warm corn or flour tortillas, topped with Fresh Tomato Salsa, Avocado Crema, and chopped onion and cilantro, with lime wedges on the side.