The fact that I hate to waste is often a source of inspiration. I won't hold back on picking up particular ingredients, but I certainly won't let odds and ends go unused. This recipe, for example, came from a desire
to use up the corn tortillas left over from Black Bean Enchiladas with Spicy Squash Sauce and a seemingly endless head of red cabbage still remaining from my CSA. But despite it's humble origins, this dish doesn't disappoint in terms of flavor even though it only requires a small time investment. High-quality prepared barbecue sauce is the real shortcut here, taking an ordinary collection of vegetables from raw and plain to tender and flavorful in short order. A zesty sauce is best, complemented particularly well by the smoky cheddar, fresh cilantro and cooling sour cream. I made this as a quick meal for two, but it could easily be scaled up for a taco bar at a larger gathering, perhaps served alongside the fish taco recipe with cabbage slaw I created out of the same motivation (and will share soon). A great example of making lemonade out of leftover lemons, these tacos are delicious enough to earn an intentional spot on my menu in the future.
Chicken Tacos with Smoky BBQ Cabbage Slaw
One 6- to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast
Cooking spray or canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 medium onion, sliced (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup fresh corn or frozen corn, thawed
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, diluted with 2 tablespoons water
4 small corn tortillas
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Shredded smoked cheddar cheese (or other cheddar or Jack cheese), for serving
Sour cream, for serving
1. Preheat a pan to medium heat and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with canola oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook until breast reaches 170 degrees F. Remove chicken from pan and allow to rest for a few minutes, then cut or shred into bite-size pieces.
2. Add additional oil to the hot pan, if needed, and add onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are browned and just softened, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage, raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage is softened but still somewhat crisp, about 3 to 5 more minutes. Add corn, stirring constantly until corn is heated through. Add 3 tablespoons of the diluted barbecue sauce, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until all the vegetables are coated most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove pan from heat, add remaining tablespoons of diluted barbecue sauce, and stir to combine everything thoroughly.
3. Warm corn tortillas in the oven or microwave. Add cabbage slaw to each tortilla and top with chicken, cheese, cilantro and sour cream. Serve promptly.