I'm quick to remind myself that, no matter how liberating and terrifying it is at once, I have absolutely no idea what is to come. But being in this soon-to-be-married phase of life, I can't help but wonder what everything we've done until now, alone and together, will equate to in a few dozen years down the road.
Every day, I find myself consciously trying to be present to the idea that we're building the lifestyle of our family - the traditions, the culture, the history of us - even if it's just for two. The recipes we create might become a go-to, a celebratory tradition or even just an epic mess to look back on someday.
And so, before the big snowstorm, we found ourselves with a kitchen stocked with everything two thirty-year olds living in a well-prepared city might ever need to survive - water, a steady amount of bulk grains and nuts and a generous hunk of Truffle Tremor.
Should the apocalypse come, at least we've got cheese.
It's cold out there, and sometimes you just need to spice up an otherwise average night. And for two people who are creating a repertoire, we had big plans: ancho chile pepper and coffee-rubbed chicken and sweet vegetable tacos with black truffle goat cheese guacamole on top.
This recipe is easy. A little too easy, if you know what I mean. It's full of big flavors that pair well together, and has just the right amount of juiciness to keep the chicken moist while not threatening the soft tortilla's life. It's a little smoky, a tiny bit spicy, surprisingly sweet and deliciously tangy.
If you ask anyone you know what their family's greatest food hits are, I promise that you'll get answers. Recipes delivered with a chuckle, a dead pan and an air of reminiscence: a green bean casserole, a juicy filet mignon, summer fruit tarts. And when I think of this, I keep coming back to this article I read a few years ago on how "the single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative."
Maybe our narrative is smoky chicken tacos and crazy guacamole. Or maybe it's just doing crazy science experiments in the kitchen. But if it keeps churning out meals like this, it's safe to say that this is a story that I can't wait to write.
Smoky Chicken Tacos with Black Truffle Guacamole
(Inspired by Momocho's Brisket Tacos)
2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup Fair Trade ground coffee (I prefer a Central American bean to keep on theme)
1-2 dried ancho chiles (or 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile powder)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sallt (I love Himalayan pink salt for its therapeutic properties)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 onion, quartered
2-3 bay leaves
Bring a cast iron skillet to medium heat.
In a food processor, combine coffee, ancho chiles, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons salt. Pulse until blended and combined.
Prepare a clean surface, and rub chicken breasts with the coffee-ancho rub. Place chicken breasts on cast iron skillet and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.
In a heavy pot or braising pan, place the chicken, red wine, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, quartered onion, tomato paste, a tablespoon of salt, black pepper and bay leaves.
Add water to cover the chicken, and then cover the pot.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, simmering covered for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the meat and shred, and pour 1/4 of the liquid from the pot over to keep moist.
To serve, place about 1/4 cup of shredded chicken on a warmed tortilla. We topped ours with onion, red pepper, tomatillo and sweet potatoes that were sauteed in chile powder and smoked paprika, as well as the black truffle cheese guacamole, chopped radish and fresh cilantro.
Black Truffle Goat Cheese Guacamole
2-3 ripe avocados, mashed
1 small tomatillo, diced
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno, diced (keep seeds for a spicy kick or remove for a more mild experience)
1/4 cup black truffle goat cheese, chopped
Mix together the first eight ingredients in a small bowl, until well combined. Gently fold in cheese.