Everyone always says that the only two things we can absolutely rely on are death and taxes. I think there’s a third sure bet, though, and one that’s a lot less depressing: Mexican food. Everybody loves Mexican food. Authentic Mexican food is all about freshness and flavor and whatever level of spiciness you enjoy. Most of the dishes are relatively easy to make, too, which only adds to the charm of la comida de México.
For these boats, you can opt for loads of hot stuff – a kickin’ hot salsa, extra cayenne on the chicken – or you can tone down your vessel by scaling back on the salsa/cayenne content and adding extra avocado and beans. I took a medium-light approach with my boats since I don’t enjoy the sensation of my tongue being at the edge of catching on fire. And if you want more of a wrap than a boat, opt for collard greens instead of Romaine: find the largest collard leaves in the bunch, rinse and dry them, and spread them out flat before spooning on your chicken and toppings. Gently fold the stiffer bottom end on top of the fillings, then roll firmly but tightly towards the more flexible top end of the leaf, folding in each side once you’ve gone about halfway up. Make sure the wrap is resting with its final loose edge on the bottom to keep it closed.
Or chop the lettuce and toss it with the chicken and toppings to create a quick chicken salad. Toss in a few organic corn chips, and you have a taco salad. Â¡Buen provecho!
Salsa Chicken Lettuce Boats
Serves as many as you like. Figure on 1/4 to 1/2 pound chicken per person depending on individual appetites and how many toppings you’re including with your boats.
Chicken breasts, preferably from free-range birds (they are much more flavorful and naturally leaner, which means they cook more quickly at a lower heat)
A pinch of extra cayenne if you like
Leaves of Romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry*
Fresh salsa of your choice, either homemade or store-bought
Cooked and drained black beans
Shredded cheese, preferably from grass-fed milk (optional)
Whole-milk plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Trim breasts and cut them into pinky-sized strips. Heat a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for a minute and then add chicken. Cook, flipping about halfway through, for 4 minutes or until the thickest piece is opaque when cut through. (Note: conventional chicken will take a little longer to cook and won’t be as flavorful.) Remove from heat and sprinkle liberally with chili powder, adding an extra dash of cayenne if you like.
Line the Romaine leaves with the seasoned chicken and top with salsa, beans, and avocado. Optional toppings include cheese and whole-milk plain yogurt. Serve right away, while the chicken is still warm and the leaves are still extra-crunchy. (The heat from the chicken and the wetness and weight of the filling will eventually cause your “boats” to “leak.”) If you want to add even more crunch, sprinkle on some crushed organic corn chips.
Leftover chicken can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, so if you have a fleet of leaves, you might as well make enough chicken for more than one meal.
* See above paragraph for alternative serving suggestions (as wraps, as salad, etc.).
Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.