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Chicken Tacos with Flour Tortillas and Pico de Gallo

Introduction & method

These soft-shell chicken tacos are easy to make, packed with colour and flavour and a whole lot of messy fun to eat.

Chicken Tacos with Flour Tortillas and Pico de Gallo Recipe

Marinate the chicken

Ideally, you will have boneless, skinless chicken thighs, although breasts will do just as well. Make up the marinade by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and stir to get them well coated. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Make the tortilla dough

Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the lard into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingertips. Stop when the mixture looks like coarse sand. Stir in the water in stages. You don't want to add too much water, just enough for the dough to come together in a ball. Sprinkle some flour on your worktop and knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is a little bit elastic. Weigh the dough and divide that number by 12. That's how much dough you need for each tortilla. Mine came out as 37 grams (1.3 ounces). Roll the pieces into balls, place them in the bowl and cover it until needed.

Make the pico de gallo

Although the ingredients are more or less the same as for salsa, pico de gallo is meant to be quite dry. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Deseed the chilli (unless you love chilli heat) and chop into small pieces. Shred the coriander. Remove the zest and juice from the lime. Mix everything together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

Cook the chicken

Ideally, you want to cook this on a cast-iron griddle plate or skillet, but a barbecue is also fine. If you don't have any of those, a regular frying pan will do but you might struggle to get a good char on the chicken. Heat the griddle until it is smoking. Depending on how well-seasoned your plate is, you might want to spray a little oil on it. Place the chicken pieces on and cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn it over and cook for the same time again. Check the internal temperature - it should be approaching 74° Celsius (165° Fahrenheit). Remove from the griddle, place on a warmed plate and cover with foil. Let it rest for 10 minutes - residual heat will let it carry on cooking a little. Cook the tortillas while the chicken is resting. Shred the chicken with 2 forks.

Cook the tortillas

You can cook the tortillas on the same griddle plate as you used for the chicken, but I actually have a small pan - 10cm / 4 inch diameter comal or cast iron skillet. Sprinkle some flour on your worktop. Take a ball of dough and roll it into a very thin disc 10cm / 4 inch diameter. Because I'm rubbish at rolling circles, I make mine a little over size and cut it with a steel ring. Trim off the excess and you might be able to re-roll all the trimmings into an extra tortilla. Heat your griddle or pan until it's smoking, spray with a little oil and carefully place a tortilla on it. Cook for about 30 seconds on one side, then turn it over and do the other. You might get some bubbles forming in your tortilla - gently squash these flat with a spatula.

How to keep tortillas soft

Put a little side plate beside your cooking station. Place a sheet of paper towel on it and sprinkle it with water. When you've cooked a tortilla, put it on the paper and place another sheet on top. Moisten that with water and build up a stack of alternating tortillas and damp paper. When you've cooked all the tortillas, separate them from the paper. Use the tortillas straight away or keep them in a ziplock bag. You can freeze them if you've made a lot.

Serve the tortillas

It's a bit tricky to keep these tortillas together unless you have some kind of stand. My inclination is just to lay everything out as a buffet and let people build their. So it'll go something like this - fold a tortilla in half and cup it in your hand. Put a big lettuce leaf in the bottom, and shredded chicken on that. Add the toppings of your choice and resist the temptation to overstuff your taco.


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Ingredients & Info

 500 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 1 tbsp smoked paprika
 1 tsp ground coriander
 1 tsp ground cumin
 1 tsp coarse sea salt
 2 cloves garlic
 half a tsp ground black pepper
 1 lime, juice and zest of
 250 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
 1 tsp salt
 1 tsp baking powder
 50 grams lard
 175 ml water
 3 tomatoes
 1 small red onion
 2 cloves garlic
 1 red or green chilli
 1 lime, juice and zest of


Spray oil for cooking chicken and tortillas. Toppings - your choice of lettuce, cheese, soured cream, avocado, anything else you fancy.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 12 tacos
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Marinating time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes.