I feel like you’re giving me a weird look right now. Is it because when you envision sweet and smoky, barbecue sauce-smothered chicken with fresh-off-the-cob corn, you’re usually not thinking of tacos? I feel you, friend. I do. But these Crunchy Mexican BBQ Sauced Chicken Tacos with Charred Corn Relish are about to change your WORLD.
It’s all about the BBQ, baby. This sauce is not your regular Sweet Baby Ray’s– although I do love that stuff. Instead, it’s flavored with 2 types of chiles (plus chili powder), cumin, and a generous amount of Mexican chocolate. If you’ve had mole before, you probably know why I decided to throw chocolate into the mix– but for those of you who haven’t, don’t get freaked out just yet.
The chocolate gives the sauce a velvety texture, boost of sweetness, depth of flavor, and it helps to balance the acidity from the tomatoes. It doesn’t make the whole thing taste like chocolate syrup, I promise. In fact, I love the combo of chocolate, chile peppers, and tomatoes so much that I like to put a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder in my chili as well. Try it some time and you’ll thank me.
When you slather your shredded chicken in the sauce, you might think you’re all good to go, but plain ol’ tortillas ain’t gonna cut it this time. I want these tacos to be CRUNCHY and CRISPY and have AIR BUBBLES. Diet be damned, I want fried shells. So, naturally, that’s exactly what I do.
By using kitchen tongs to press down in the center of each tortilla as it fries, I’m able to create a fold that is the perfect size for filling. The shells get a bit wavy and puffy in spots, but that’s what I love about them most. They look just as fun as they taste.
So we’ve got the Mexican BBQ sauce covered, as well as the shells, but what about that charred corn relish? It’s pretty much just esquites (Mexican corn salad) thrown on top of tacos, but without the mayonnaise. The corn makes it sweet, the lime makes it tangy, the jalapeno gives a kick, and the cotija adds some salty… well… cheesiness. On its own, it’s great. But piled on top of that saucy chicken, oh man. The tacos are insane.
Make these Crunchy Mexican BBQ Sauced Chicken Tacos with Charred Corn Relish for your Cinco de Mayo party or Taco Tuesday and see exactly what I’m talking about. While you’re at it, take a photo and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter. Can’t wait to see ’em!Print
BBQ sauce adapted from Kayotic Kitchen
For the Crunchy Shells:
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 10 corn tortillas
For the Mexican BBQ Sauced Chicken:
- 4 dried New Mexico chiles
- 3 chipotle chiles, from 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped.
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 1/2 lbs cooked, shredded chicken
For the Charred Corn Relish:
- 2 ears fresh corn, husks on
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- ½ cups chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 3″ of vegetable oil. When warm, place in a tortilla and use kitchen tongs to press it down in the center, so that the edges float upward in a taco shell shape. Fry until bubbly and crisp, about 30 seconds. Remove from the oil and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat until all of the tortillas have been fried.
- Cut the top off of each dried chile and remove the stem and seeds. Place them in a large bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 30 minutes.
- When the chiles are ready, blend them with 1 cup of the water they soaked in until smooth. Add in the 3 chipotle peppers and blend again until smooth. Place the blended chile mixture, ketchup, brown sugar, mexican chocolate, and spices in a medium-sized pot.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the chocolate has melted entirely. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasonings, to taste. Add in the chicken and stir well to coat. Continue to heat over low heat until the chicken is warm.
- While the BBQ sauce cooks, make the corn relish. Microwave the corn in the husks for 3 minutes. Let the corn cool, then remove the husks and silk and cut the cooked kernels from the cobs and into a bowl.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add in the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the onion, jalapeños, and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and transfer the corn mixture to a large bowl. Mix in the lime juice, cotija cheese, and cilantro.
- Spoon the BBQ sauced chicken into the crunchy tortillas and top with the corn relish. Serve immediately.