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Recipe courtesy of Michael Psilakis

Spicy Chicken Tacos

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr 20 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 pound ground chicken

2 tablespoons canola oil 

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

1 tablespoon Spicy Red Rub, recipe follows

1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini

2 cups Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions, recipe follows

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

Kosher salt 

Fresh ground black pepper 

1 tablespoon Garlic Confit Puree, recipe follows

8 (6-inch) corn or seven-grain tortillas, warmed 

1/4 cup Chipotle Yogurt Sauce, recipe follows

Spicy Red Rub:

3 tablespoons smoked paprika

3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground 

2 tablespoons kosher salt 

2 tablespoons sugar 

1 1/2 tablespoons whole cloves, toasted and ground 

1 tablespoon cayenne 

1 tablespoon mustard seeds, toasted and ground 

Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

35 cloves garlic, 20 crushed, 15 roughly chopped

4 (28-ounce) cans imported good-quality peeled plum tomatoes in their juice 

15 basil leaves 

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 

Red wine vinegar to taste 

1/4 cup canola oil 

4 yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 1?4-inch-thick strips 

4 red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 1?4-inch-thick strips 

3 large yellow onions, cut into slivers 

6 tablespoons tomato paste 

1 cup white wine vinegar 

1/2 cup dry white wine 

2 tablespoons honey 

Garlic Confit Puree:

3 cups peeled garlic cloves

1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried 

8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme 

1 tablespoon kosher salt 

1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns 

1 cup canola oil 

1 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Chipotle Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup store-bought tzatziki

3 tablespoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 

Kosher salt 

Fresh ground black pepper 


  1. Combine the chicken, oil, sliced garlic, and Spicy Red Rub in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cook, breaking up the chicken with a spoon and distributing the spices evenly throughout. Add half the pepperoncini. Stir in 2 cups water, the Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and stir in the Garlic Confit Puree. Simmer until the mixture has thickened and the liquid has evaporated almost entirely.
  2. Divide chicken mixture among the tortillas and serve warm with the Chipotle Yogurt Sauce. Garnish with remaining pepperoncini if desired.

Spicy Red Rub:

Yield: about 1/2 cup
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Stir with a spoon to thoroughly mix. The rub will keep, tightly covered, for up to 3 months.

Sweet and Sour Peppers and Onions:

Yield: about 10 cups
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and crushed garlic over medium-high heat until the garlic is softened. Add the tomatoes and 6 cups water, give a stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce clings to a wooden spoon, about 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Stir in the basil and crush the tomatoes with the back of the spoon. Season with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Taste and add enough red wine vinegar to achieved your desired acidity. I like a tangier sauce, so I'm a bit heavy-handed with the vinegar. To make the sauce smooth at this point, puree in a blender. Measure out 2 cups of the tomato sauce and set aside. Reserve the remaining tomato sauce for another use.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, combine the canola oil and peppers and saute until just softened and fragrant and the peppers begin to release a little liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the onions and chopped garlic and saute just until the onions are soft; do not let them take on any color. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the white wine vinegar and white wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. (The larger the pan, the faster the liquid in the mixture will reduce.)
  4. Add 6 cups water, the reserved 2 cups tomato sauce, the honey and remaining 2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid thickens to the consistency of a salsa. The peppers and onions will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Garlic Confit Puree:

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place garlic cloves, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and peppercorns in a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot. Pour the canola and olive oils over to cover. Cover, transfer to the oven, and bake until the garlic cloves are pale gold and tender (you should be able to smash them with the back of a spoon), about 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic cloves only to the bowl of a food processor (a mini-processor is ideal) and process until smooth. Alternatively, mash the cloves with the side of a knife. Store in a clean resealable jar.

Chipotle Yogurt Sauce:

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
  1. Combine the tzatziki and pureed peppers in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Stir well before each use.