Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring is here!

And this means the asparagus has sprung!

Walking home from work yesterday, I spotted a sweet deal at my local green grocer: huge bunches of beautiful pencil asparagus for just $1 each! (Oh Astoria, how I love thee.) At the same time, my stomach was calling for tacos. Now, you might scoff at the idea of tacos with asparagus, but at that moment a lightbulb of craving went off in my brain (or my gut?), and a slightly crazy idea was born. The resulting repast? Shredded chicken tacos with crunchy asparagus and guacamole. Easy and very rich in vitamin S! (that's for Spring, silly.)
Pulled Chicken Tacos with Asparagus and Guacamole
(serves 3-4)

- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 bunch pencil asparagus (about 1 pound)

- 3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
- 1 medium red onion, chopped small
- 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced
- juice of 2 lemons- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- salt to taste

To serve:
- corn tortillas (I used blue corn - very aesthetically pleasing)
- sour cream
- Mexican beer with lime

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts and place in a medium baking dish. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt, cumin, and paprika. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the inside is not pink, or an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, salt a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Rinse asparagus and cut off the toughest part of the stem, at the very bottom. Chop the remaining asparagus stalks into half-inch segments and drop into boiling water for a minute only (you want the asparagus bright green, not yellow-brown and overcooked). Drain quickly and shock with cold water immediately to stop the cooking. Set aside.

3. Now go ahead and make your guacamole: Scoop the avocado out into a large bowl and break up roughly with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, jalapeno, tomato, lemon juice, cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Mix well and set aside.

4. When chicken is fully cooked, remove from baking dish and allow to cool completely. Then, using your fingers, shred the chicken into small, taco-appropriate pieces.

5. Finally, in a hot, dry skillet, warm your tortillas - about 1 minute per side - and keep warm by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel until ready to serve.

6. To serve, pile some chicken, guacamole, crunchy asparagus, and sour cream on a warm tortilla, roll up, and enjoy with your favorite Mexican beer!

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