Jalapeño Brined Fried Chicken and Homemade Chicken Fat Tortilla Tacos

Tacooooooooos! Not just any tacos but fried chicken tacos. And not just any fried chicken but jalapeño brined fried chicken.

It gets better. These are not just any tortillas but chicken fat tortillas with fat from last nights roast chicken. And that crumb? It is a gluten-free one that is so good, my gluten digesting friends choose it instead of regular breadcrumb or panko! It is so good and you won’t believe what it is!

The secret ingredient for coating fried chicken that makes it something to fight over

This secret ingredient is so good that my flatmate complained one night when I only had enough of it for my fried chicken, and he had *just* panko on his! Panko that he previously loved and insisted on. That panko! Poor panko, cast aside and for what? Instant mashed potato, folks. It is a killer coating for fried foods, and it is superb on fried chicken.

When my doctor told me that I could no longer have gluten, I felt such a loss. It was obvious after diets and tests, and it makes a huge difference to my health. So many favourite things torn from my grasp and my kitchen. Naturally, I took to the kitchen and tried many things. I already had many gluten-free flours in regular use (like rice flour and potato starch, which incidentally also makes brilliant fried chicken, I use it for Japanese fried chicken karaage).

I stocked up and I explored everything that might be a possibility, including dried mashed potato as a crust for fried tofu and then fried chicken. As much of my gluten-free journey and life, in general, has shown me that when you venture far outside the box, you sometimes get much better results. Instant mashed potato crust on both fried tofu fried chicken is so good. It has a roundness and a richness and it crisps beautifully. I use Smash as it is dairy-free too, and I always have a tub in my cupboard now (we like to fry things). 

Why just stop with fried chicken in your tacos?

Get some lovely chicken fat in those tortillas too. I never leave a trace of anything in any roasting tray. Those fat and those gorgeous juices, as grim and coiled as they can look at first glance, it is all flavour and nutrition. Just there, languishing under every roast.

On those days when you don’t make gravy with it (we all have those days), scoop all that fat and those juices up, and save it for a brighter day where you have enthusiasm and energy, or when you just need great roast spuds (every day?!). 

Chicken fat corn tortillas are super easy and delicious

Homemade corn tortillas are so easy, and while fat isn’t an essential ingredient (masa harina and water will do the job beautifully for corn tortillas and this is the tradition in Mexico), adding some chicken fat that you rescued from the roasting tray the night before is a very good idea.

Chicken fat is fantastic in terms of flavour, and fat brings moisture and a little flex to every party it attends. The flavour is subtle but put it in there. No chicken fat? Bacon fat will do! A splash of oil, some lard, some dripping. Whatever fat you have will do the job.  

This is the third and final recipe that I developed to match some lovely wines from Honest Grapes for a recent tasting. A Riesling this time, Clemens Busch Riesling Trocken von Roten Schiefer. I love Riesling, it is so underrated. And it is the perfect wine with any food with heat and spice.

Right! Let’s get into it. 

Fried Jalapeño Brined Fried Chicken and Chicken Fat Tacos

Fried Jalapeño Brined Fried Chicken and Chicken Fat Tacos

Ingredients

  • Tortillas (approx 12 small tortillas)
  • 150g masa harina
  • 210ml warm to hot water (this will depend on your masa harina, so add the last bit slowly and you may need more)
  • 1 tbsp chicken fat
  • Pinch of salt
  • Jalapeño and Coriander Sauce
  • 300g mayonnaise

  • 4 pickled jalapeños
  • 
1 hot chilli of your choice (I went with a green finger chilli to keep the colour)

  • Handful coriander leaves

  • 50ml oil

  • 25ml cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pickled red onion
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Jalapeño brined fried chicken
  • 600 boneless chicken thigh cut into bite size portions

  • One tin or jar of pickled jalapeño

  • 200g instant mashed potato (I used Smash)

  • 100g rice flour
  • 
2 beaten eggs
  • Chopped tomatoes, cucumber and red onion
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

Drain the brine from the jalapeños and add to the chicken with about half the jalapeños (slice them if whole). Leave covered in the fridge for a minimum 2 hours.

Add the water and chicken fat to your masa harina and bring together until it forms a ball. If it feels dry or crumbly, add more water slowly. If it is too sticky, add a little more masa harina. Leave to rest under a tea towel while you prepare the rest.

Blend all the ingredients for your sauce until smooth and adjust sweetness, salt and heat to taste if required.

Pour the cider vinegar over the sliced red onion and leave to sit and pickle.

Drain the chicken and dip each piece in rice flour then beaten egg and then the dried potato. Heat a deep fat fryer or about an inch of oil in a pan to 180c (please be very careful) or until a piece of bread or similar added to it sizzles straight away. I used a regular pan but please be careful if you are not used to it. Fry until golden and drain on kitchen paper.

Build your taco by putting some sauce on first, then adding the chicken, tomatoes, cucumber and pickled red onion.

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Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.