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For college students, chicken can be a miracle meat. It’s high in lean protein, versatile, and above all, cheap. But it can be difficult to figure out creative ways to use it after a few nights of grilled chicken over a salad.
We’ll be preparing pulled Cajun chicken tacos with soft shells. Soft shell tacos are easier to manage because there are no cracked shells to deal with, and any extra tortillas can be used for wraps or quesadillas.
Our tacos will be simply topped with lettuce, tomato and avocado.
Let’s start with the most important ingredient, the chicken.
When choosing a cut of chicken, try to find boneless leg or thigh meat because they’re darker meats and will pull apart better after they’ve been cooked. Breast meat won’t pull apart as cleanly as its darker counterparts.
Once you have your chicken, coat it in a dry rub, which is simply a mixture of spices that begin to impart deep, rich flavors even before we put it in the oven.
You can put a dry rub on almost any meat, like a pot roast or steak.
Mix your spices together, and then place your chicken in an all-metal saucepan, with an all-metal lid. If there is any plastic or porcelain component to your saucepan, it may melt or crack.
Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, and then pour your rub on top. Use your hands to massage the rub into the meat, covering the entirety of the chicken.
Pour your lemon juice and white vinegar into the saucepan with the chicken. These will keep the chicken moist and tender while it cooks.
Heat your oven to 300 degrees, and let the chicken absorb the rub in the time it takes the oven to reach the desired temperature.
Put the saucepan, covered, into the oven and let it bake for two hours.
Now, we can use this time to prepare the toppings. Slice your lettuce, tomatoes and scoop out your avocados. Then slice your scooped avocado into manageable slivers.
Check on the meat after two hours, and make sure it’s cooked by cutting it open. If any meat is still very pink, or looks raw, let it cook for longer.
Use two forks to pull apart your chicken, and then drizzle the drippings leftover in the pan over the pulled chicken, if desired.
Heat your tortillas in a sauté pan or in the microwave then place a healthy serving of pulled chicken, lettuce, tomato and avocado on top.
You can vary this recipe by experimenting with the spices used in the rub or the toppings on the taco.
Pulled Cajun chicken tacos
Cook time: 2:30 hours
-1 lb. chicken
-1 romaine lettuce heart
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-1/8 cup white vinegar
-1 tsp. paprika
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
-1/2 tsp. chili powder
-1/2 tsp. cumin
-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp. onion powder
-1/4 tsp. garlic powder