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Puffy Tacos with Shredded Chicken

By Diana Barrios Treviño From Moveable Feast Season 3, Ep.6
Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8

Corn or flour tortillas deep-fried until they puff are a specialty of San Antonio’s Tex-Mex cuisine. The homemade chicken broth used in the recipe can be refrigerated and used within 3 to 4 days, or frozen for 4 to 6 months.


For the shredded chicken

  • 3- to 4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces, backbone reserved
  • 1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, skins on, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes (about 1-1/4 lb.), quartered
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tacos

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 cups vegetable oil, for frying

For serving

  • Shredded iceberg lettuce (optional)
  • Chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • Prepared salsa (optional)


Make the chicken

  • Put the chicken pieces and backbone in an 8-quart, heavy-duty pot. Add enough water to cover the chicken by 3 inches. Add the onion, celery, garlic, 2 Tbs. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to medium, and continue to boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on top.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and shred the meat with your fingers or 2 forks. Discard the bones, strain the broth through a medium-mesh strainer, and reserve for another use.

Make the tomato sauce

  • Put the tomatoes in a blender and blend until puréed.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the puréed tomatoes, garlic powder, cumin, 2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
  • Add the shredded chicken to the tomato sauce and heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Make the tacos

  • Combine the masa harina, salt, and 2-1⁄4 cups warm water in a large bowl and stir until a dough forms. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each into a ball. Using a tortilla press or rolling pin, flatten a ball into a 6-inch disk, transfer it to a plate lined with plastic wrap, and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
  • Pour the oil into a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°F. Place 1 tortilla in the oil. When it begins to puff, press the end of a metal spatula into the middle of the tortilla so that it bends into a taco shape; hold the spatula in place until the taco is golden brown and crisp, 1-1⁄2 to 2 minutes. Transfer the taco to paper towels to drain, and repeat with the remaining tortillas.

To serve

  • Fill each taco shell with some of the chicken mixture. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa, if using, and serve right away.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • Terfuller | 02/13/2016

    The Best !!

  • Terfuller | 02/13/2016

    The Best !!

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