Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Panko-crusted Chicken Tacos

Tacos are big here in the big D.

I was surprised to learn that as there are taco establishments all over Dallas. I know, it's Texas, but tacos  here are like clam chowder or burgers or toasted ravioli in other parts of the country. You have gourmet tacos and simple street tacos, with prices that match. We've been really good about eating at home the last few months, going out to eat every 3 weeks or so. (I know, this might make some of you cringe.) It means more dishes to clean, but it also means yummy leftovers and more creative meals.

Ever use panko? I had not, until now. It's the crunchy Japanese breadcrumbs used in many dishes, particularly for coating in frying and as thickening agents in soups. It is made by sending an electric current through a loaf of bread(!), yielding crustless breadcrumbs. It is fluffy, inexpensive and really fun to work with. Back to the tacos. The dip and coat 2-step system is fool-proof. The chicken is baked. It is moist and good. The "dip" is simply this:
This stuff is great...thick enough for dipping but not too overpowering or spicy in flavor. I've seen this at grocery stores, World Market-type stores, etc., but I think a thicker honey mustard or dijon with a little chili powder could work well, too. Your choice.

Panko-crusted Chicken Tacos
The Japanese panko breadcrumbs lock in the chipotle honey mustard sauce even after 20 minutes in the oven. These tenders are easy to prepare and easier to devour, a great quick dinner for a busy family.
Makes 8 tacos, or 4 servings

1 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup Frontera chipotle honey mustard or honey mustard with 2 TB chili powder
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Optional (Panko seasonings: 1 TB chili powder, 1/8 t. salt, dash of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 can (16 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup cheese (your choice, we used mozzarella)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional) or salsa
8--10 tortilla (flour or corn)

Preheat oven to 375. Put panko breadcrumbs into one small bowl (with optional seasonings) and honey mustard into a second small bowl. Have a lined baking sheet (nonstick) ready nearby. Using one hand, dip a chicken tender into the honey mustard sauce and use the other hand to coat it in panko. Lay on the baking sheet. Repeat the dip-and-coat method until all are ready for the oven.

Bake at 375 for 15--20 minutes, or until fully cooked (you might want to cut open one of the larger tenders with a knife). While baking, chop the cilantro and tomatoes and prepare the other toppings. Heat the black beans in a small saucepan or bowl until heated through.

Once the chicken is cooked, pile the tenders and toppings onto each taco (1 taco=1 or 2 tenders). You can serve chips and salsa/guacamole, veggies or salad on the side. Ole!

Happy eating!

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