Chipotle Cheerwine Chicken Tacos

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Last week I was flipping through a bunch of food magazines in search of inspiration for a recipe I needed to come up with for my next cooking segment on Charlotte Today. I eventually came across an article about the history of Cheerwine. I learned that the cherry soda was turning 100 this year, and I thought a recipe highlighting the Salisbury, North Carolina native would be fun for the show. I make a really good Cheerwine pound cake (recipe coming soon), but I know from past experience that dessert is not want the hosts or crew want from me when I appear on Charlotte Today. 

My recipe was due a few days before Cinco de Mayo, so I decided to go with tacos. And not just any tacos, but tacos that celebrated two North Carolina favorites–Cheerwine and barbecue sauce. Since you can’t have tacos without salsa, I threw in the black bean and corn salsa recipe I recently posted. The sweet, spicy and sour flavors work together beautifully, and I left the set with my Charlotte Today fan club still intact.

Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!

Cheerwine Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Black Bean Corn Salsa
Makes 4-6 servings

1 cup ketchup
½ cup Cheerwine soda
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse-ground pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder

1 (4 to 5 pound) rotisserie chicken
8 to 12 corn tortillas, warmed
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Napa cabbage, shredded
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
4 ounces queso fresco cheese, crumbled

Whisk the ketchup, soda, vinegar, peppers, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic and onion in a small saucepan until combined. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until thickened and reduced, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the meat from the chicken and shred into a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat ½ teaspoon oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a small skillet and heat on medium high heat. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of cheese, and top with another tortilla. Heat until the bottom of the tortilla is slightly toasted, and the cheese is melted, then flip and toast the other side. This usually only takes a minute per side. Remove the taco shell to a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Be careful not to leave the oil in the pan unattended.

Divide the chicken among the tortillas and top with cabbage, corn salsa and cheese.

Fill the taco shells with about 1/4 cup of the chicken, then top with lettuce, corn, black, beans, and cheese. Drizzle with ranch dressing. Add a squeeze of lime and sprinkle with cilantro if desired.



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