Easy Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos and Wine Pairing at Wine4.Me/blogBy contributing writer Mary Cressler

I have the very best of intentions of spending my Sunday mornings meal planning for the week, planning out healthy menus, buying ingredients, and doing all the prep work.  Then reality sets in. I can barely figure out what to feed my family for breakfast that morning, I start the laundry, chase the toddlers around the house, run errands, and then suddenly it’s dinner time. And I haven’t even planned what to make that night for dinner let alone the rest of the week.

When this happens the answer is usually tacos.

Need a quick idea for a lunch? Tacos. Need an idea of what to do with leftovers (chicken, beef, pork, veggies, etc.)? Tacos.  Want something different for breakfast? Yes, tacos.  Need an idea for quick dinner when it’s already 5:00 pm and you’re on your way home from work and forgot to thaw the chicken?  Tacos!

But not just any old taco recipe. This was inspired by my favorite taco joint here in Portland.  They have the most savory and tasty Pollo Verde tacos (which essentially use chicken braised in tomatillo salsa).  But when I tried to research recipes for chicken verde tacos, they usually required you to either make your own verde salsa (which honestly is not hard, it just requires some time and prep), or slow cooking raw chicken and store bought salsa in a slow cooker for 4-10 hours.

For procrastinators like me, the slow cooker is out of the question for a last minute dinner ideas, especially on a busy weeknight with lots of mouths to feed.

Then one day I tried to see if I could get that slow cooked flavor without the slow cooked time.  I bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (all the supermarkets have them cooked and ready for you to buy these days, and they are a godsend for folks like me in need of last minute dinner ideas!), and a jar of my favorite salsa verde.  I shredded the chicken and combined it with the salsa verde in a pot and let them warm up together.  Suddenly I had what tasted like a slow cooked meal done in less than 15 minutes!

Easy Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos and Wine Pairing at Wine4.Me/blog

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been eating these chicken verde tacos at least once (usually three or more times) a week lately.  They are so easy and delicious.  The best part is that they also go great with wine!

The key is finding a salsa you love. I’ve tried salsas from all of my local stores, and I’ve found my absolute favorite is Whole Foods 365 Roasted Salsa Verde.  It has the most flavors, texture, and the best balance of savory, heat, and sweetness.  It’s truly the best in my opinion.

Easy Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos and Wine Pairing
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 3 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, skin removed and shredded
  • 1 ½ cups salsa verde (I recommend Whole Foods 365 brand)
  • 8 corn tortillas
Optional toppings
  • Avocado slices
  • Cotija cheese (or other Mexican cheese)
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Squeeze of lime
Instructions
  1. Warm up a medium size pot to medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions and let them cook for about 5 minutes, just to soften. Meanwhile shred your rotisserie chicken, discarding the skin.
  2. Once the onions are softened, add the chicken (a combination of white and dark meat) and the salsa.
  3. Stir to combine and let heat up and simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust salsa amount to your liking. If you want a more intense sauce and more liquid, add more.
  4. Warm up your corn tortillas to soften and top each tortilla with a couple tablespoons of the chicken verde mixture and whatever toppings your heart desires. I love adding a slice of avocado, cotija cheese, cilantro, and a fresh squeeze of lime.
Notes
This recipe is good for about four people. Add or subtract ingredients based on how many people you are feeding. Or if you’re like me, feel free to use the entire chicken and the entire 16 oz jar of salsa and save the leftovers for the next day, and the next day, and the next... The flavors get even better the longer the mixture sits together.

 

Wine Pairing

The things to pay attention to are the flavors of the salsa verde and any toppings.  Verde salsa is made from tomatillos (green tomatoes), and is usually milder than those made from red tomatoes.  I find the flavors to be more savory than spicy, with a fresh zestiness to them, and a bit of sweetness from the roasted tomatillos.  Rosé is a very versatile match for any style tacos (especially if they do happen to have some spice), but I also like zesty acidic white wines that have citrus flavors and aromas.  Sauvignon Blanc works well, but so does Spanish Albariños.

Easy Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos and Wine Pairing at Wine4.Me/blog

2013 Muga Rosado (Rioja, Spain) — $12

This rosé has a mix of crisp red apple, fresh red berry fruit (cherry and strawberry), and some bright citrusy fruit (lemons, pineapple). It is bright, clean, refreshing, and light bodied with loads of fresh acidity.  The fresh berry fruit mixes well with the juicy chicken, and the acidity is a nice match for the zesty salsa.  This is a versatile wine that can go with a wide range of foods and can hold up to challenging foods like tomatillo salsa.

2012 Burgans Albariño (Rias Baixas, Spain) — $15

I’m a big fan of this wine because of its versatility with food. It’s also very accessible and easy to find when I’m looking for a reliable Albariño.  It has lots of juicy apricot, peach, tangerine, tropical pineapple, lemon, and lime aromas and flavors.  At one point, I described it as a peach pie with lots of acidity!  It’s fairly big with lots of flavor intensity, but it is freshened up by bright acidity.  This is a great wine for the salsa.   The lush flavors provide a fun interplay with the herbal, spicy, and zingy flavors of the salsa.  This especially works well with the tacos, if you squeeze some of that fresh lime over the top!

Both wines work great with the salsa, but in different ways. Which would you chose?

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Mary Cressler | Wine4.Me/blog/Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners.

She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.

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