Duck Tacos with Refried Black Beans

I usually think of duck meat as being too fatty to agree with me. 😉 After seeing Sara Moulton make these tacos, she convinced me to give it another chance. In this dish, the fatty skin is removed and the shredded duck meat was very moist and flavorful.

I often see the vacuum-sealed, cooked rotisserie duck at Costco. On my last visit, when most the fresh poultry was out of stock and the rotisserie chicken was limited to one per visit, there was plenty of rotisserie duck available. 🙂 These tacos could also be made with rotisserie chicken, of course, but this was a nice change. My son thought that they were “next-level.”

This recipe was adapted from Sara’s Weeknight Meals, via SaraMolton.com. I doubled the original recipe to use the entire rotisserie duck and added additional toppings. The leftover filling was just as delicious reheated and served with fresh toppings and taco shells. The healthy and quick refried black beans were fabulous too.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Spice Blend:

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the Filling & Toppings:

  • 1 half of a cooked rotisserie duck
  • 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 3 T water
  • 12 ready-to-eat regular-size taco shells, warmed according to package directions
  • chopped or shredded iceberg lettuce or finely-shredded cabbage, for serving
  • chopped tomatoes (I used chopped grape tomatoes)m for serving
  • shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese or a Mexican cheese blend, to taste, for serving
  • prepared salsa, for serving
  • light sour cream, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • diced avocado, for serving
  • canned diced chilies, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving (I used Chipotle Cholula)
  • rice, for serving, optional
  • Refried beans, recipe below

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. Add the ingredients to a bowl and stir well to combine.

To Make the Fillings, Toppings, & To Serve:

  1. Remove the skin from the duck meat. Shred enough meat from one half of a rotisserie cooked duck to yield 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shredded duck and spice blend and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the water and cook, covered, for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Divide the filling among the taco shells.
  6. Top with the lettuce and tomatoes, and sprinkle with cheese.  Top with cilantro, avocado, diced chiles, and hot sauce, as desired. Spoon on the salsa and sour cream, if using.
  7. Serve immediately with refried beans on the side. (The refried beans can be used as an additional taco filling, if desired.)

For the Refried Beans:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (I used 1 large yellow onion when I doubled the recipe)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups thoroughly cooked black beans or one 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans and chicken stock, cover, and cook until the beans are very soft and the flavors are well blended, about 5 minutes.
  6. Use a fork or potato masher to coarsely mash the beans.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Note: Cooked, rotisserie duck can be purchased online @Maple Leaf Farms.com.

Cilantro-Lime Chicken Thighs

This is another Mexican-inspired chicken dish. I coarsely hand-shredded this juicy chicken to serve as a taco filling with loads of toppings. It would also be wonderful in a burrito bowl or simply on it’s own with street corn, refried beans and rice. Yum.

The recipe was adapted from DamnDelicious.com. I marinated the chicken for 6 hours and it was very flavorful. I broiled the chicken instead of pan frying it as well. It would also be perfect grilled.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 T lime zest
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 4 large thighs)
  • cooked rice and refried beans, for serving, as desired
  • guacamole or avocado slices, for serving, as desired
  • corn, red onion, shredded cheese, tomatoes, and salsa, for serving, as desired
  • hot sauce and sour cream, for serving, as desired
  • flour or corn tortillas for serving as a burrito or tacos, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken and cilantro mixture; marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight, turning the bag occasionally. (I marinated the chicken for 6 hours.)
  3. Preheat broiler or grill.
  4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a rimmed baking sheet, if broiling.
  5. Cook the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  6. Let rest and cool slightly to coarsely hand-shred (to use as a taco or burrito filling).
  7. Serve with rice and refried beans and assorted toppings, as desired.

Kofta Sandwiches with Tomatoes & Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

These sandwiches are a great weeknight dinner. Using ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, lamb or pork makes them a little bit lighter as well.

After seeing sandwiches served in taco racks at NYC’s Chelsea Market, I used taco racks to assemble these messy sandwiches. Genius! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and added lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to the sauce.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced large (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1/2 a lemon, more to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 T minced fresh dill
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 small naan or pitas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint or cilantro, for serving
  • sliced or chopped red onion, for serving, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, diced onion, chopped parsley/cilantro, cumin and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  2. Using your hands, form mixture into 8 oval patties.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and dill; season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice, if desired.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high. Cook patties until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. (I cooked the meatballs until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.)
  5. Divide patties and tomatoes among warm naan or pitas. (I assembled the sandwiches in taco racks.)
  6. Top with cucumber-yogurt sauce and mint or cilantro. Top with red onion, if desired.
  7. Fold to enclose (if not using taco racks) and serve.

Mushroom Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

More tacos to share! I served these full-flavored vegetarian tacos for our Cinco de Mayo celebration this year- with margaritas, chips, and guacamole, of course.

The recipe was adapted from The Essential Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for your Electric Pressure Cooker by Deborah Schneider. I used a stove top pressure cooker instead of an instant pot, but this filling could be prepared just as easily without using a pressure cooker at all. The creamy avocado sauce was amazing!

The original recipe is for “quesotacos” which the author describes as black-belt street cooking, made by browning a layer of cheese right on a griddle, scooping it up with a tortilla, and using that to wrap the filling. I opted to serve the filling over the shredded cheese in a traditional taco form. This wonderful filling is also used in enchiladas in this book. Yum!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6, with about 1 cup of Avocado-Tomatillo sauce

For the Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce:

  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 1/2 serrano chile, stemmed (and seeded, if desired)
  • 1 T water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • leaves from 2 sprigs cilantro, chopped (about 1 T)

For the Mushroom Tacos:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch dice (2 cups) (I reserved 1/4 cup of the onion for the sauce)
  • 9 garlic cloves, minced (3 T)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 to 10 oz cremini mushroom, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 8 to 10 oz white button mushrooms, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or shredded fresh epazote
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 corn or corn-wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or grated Cojita cheese
  • Avocado-Tomatillo sauce, for serving
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In a food processor, combine the avocado, tomatillos, onion, Serrano Chile, water, and salt.
  2. Pulse until fairly smooth, about 10 pulses, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the cilantro and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt if needed.

Note: The Sauce will keep well for 24 hours, covered and refrigerated.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Place poblano chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Broil the poblano chiles in the oven, rotating every 5 to 7 minutes, until charred and blistered on all sides. (I set my oven to Broil Max at 450F.)
  3. Wrap the chiles in the foil lining, to loosen the charred skin with steam.
  4. When cool enough to handle, peel, seed and dice the roasted chiles.
  5. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, instant pot, or dutch oven.
  6. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  8. Add the water, salt, portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and white mushrooms, then stir in the cilantro/epazote.
  9. If using a pressure cooker or instant pot, secure the lip and cook on high for 1 minute. (Alternatively, cook the mixture in a Dutch oven until mushrooms have released a significant amount of moisture and are lightly browned.)
  10. Use the quick pressure release. (I rotate the valve into a perpendicular position on the top of my pressure cooker.)
  11. Set a colander in a bowl. Pour the mushroom mixture into the colander, reserving the liquid in the bowl.
  12. Set the colander aside and return the liquid to the pot.
  13. Bring the liquid to a boil, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until syrupy and very thick.
  14. Return the mushroom mixture to the pot and stir in the black pepper, pepper flakes, and roasted and diced poblano chiles.
  15. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until heated through.
  16. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.
  17. Serve the mushroom filling in warm tortillas over shredded Monterey Jack and crumbled feta. Top with sauce, minced cilantro, and extra cheese, as desired.

For “Quesotacos”:  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly oil, place a tortilla in the pan and toast for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn the tortilla and top with 2 T of Jack cheese and 1 T of feta/Cojita. Continue toasting until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes more. Top with mushroom mixture, sauce, sprinkle of cheese, and pinch of cilantro. Serve immediately.

For a Grilled Corn & Mushroom Variation: Add kernels from 2 ears of grilled corn to the pot after adding the roasted poblano chiles.

Shredded Chicken Tacos (Tinga de Pollo)

My brother and sister-in-law gave me a sous vide machine for Christmas. What a fun new world to explore! I started out using it to make the best hard-cooked eggs I’ve ever eaten in my life. I stepped it up a notch to make this incredibly saucy and moist taco filling.

This recipe was adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen book Sous Vide for Everybody: The Easy, Foolproof Cooking Technique That’s Sweeping the World. I substituted feta for the Cotija cheese and served the tacos in corn-wheat tortillas. Amazing.

Yield: Serves 6

Sous Vide Time: 3 to 5 hours at 180F/82C

For the Chicken:

  • 2 pounds (900 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 2.5# pounds- about 10 thighs)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T (28 g) vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 onion (140 g), halved and sliced thin (I used a sweet onion)
  • 2 T (32 g) minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp (2 g) garlic powder
  • 1 tsp (2.5 g) ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 14.5 oz (410 g) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (3 g) grated lime zest (I used the zest of 1 lime)
  • 2 T (30 g) freshly squeezed lime juice

For the Tacos:

  • 12-18 (6-inch) corn or corn-wheat tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 oz (57 g) Cojita or feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 6 scallions (90 g), minced
  • minced fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • rice and refried beans, for serving, optional

To Make the Chicken:

  1. Using sous vide circulator, bring water to 180F/82C in 7 to 12-quart container. (I filled my 12-quart container with 9 quarts of water.) I prepared the filling while the water was heating.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 1 T (14 g) oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  4. Brown half of chicken, 3 to 4 minutes per side; transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. Heat remaining 1 T (14 g) oil in now-empty skillet until shimmering.
  6. Add onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  7. Stir in chipotle, garlic powder, cumin, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, scraping up any browned bits.
  9. Transfer mixture to blender and process until smooth, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down sides of blender jar as needed. (I used a Vitamix.)
  10. Place chicken and any accumulated juices and sauce in 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag and toss to coat.
  11. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible.
  12. Place bag into second 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag and seal.
  13. Gently lower bag into prepared water bath until chicken is fully submerged, and then clip the top corner to the side of water bath container, allowing remaining air bubbles to rise to top of bag. (I used a binder clip.)
  14. Reopen 1 corner of the zipper, release remaining air bubbles, and reseal bag.
  15. Cover and cook for at least 3 hours or up to 5 hours. (I cooked mine for 5 hours.)
  16. Transfer chicken and sauce to large bowl, let cool slightly, and then shred chicken into bite-size pieces using 2 forks.
  17. Stir in lime zest and juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Assemble the Tacos:

  1. Spoon chicken into center of each tortilla. Serve with avocado, cheese, scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges.
  2. Serve with rice and refried beans, as desired.

BLT Tacos

Why have I never thought of making a BLT taco before? Genius.

This quick and delicious weeknight dinner recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I cooked the bacon at a lower temperature, increasing the cooking time. I think that this method isn’t as messy. 🙂 I added avocado slices, used corn-flour hybrid tortillas, a Serrano instead of jalapeño chile, increased the lime juice, and used chipotle Tabasco in the mayonnaise. I also warmed the tortillas with steam in the microwave.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon, about 10 slices
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
  • 1 small Serrano or jalapeño chile, seeded or not, finely chopped
  • 2-3 T cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
  • 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas (I used corn-flour hybrid tortillas)
  • Romaine lettuce leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 avocado, sliced into eighths
  • refried beans and rice, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Lay bacon in an even layer in 2 9-13″ glass pyrex dishes or on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plates and let cool. (Keep rendered fat for another use.)
  2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, chopped chile, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
  4. Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or medium bowl. Top with a damp paper towel and seal with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 1 minute to warm.  (Alternatively, the tortillas can be warmed on the stove top: Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.)
  5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.

Tacos with Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce (Camerones Enchipotlados)

These tacos were quite spicy, but the heat was easily counteracted by the mild toppings. The smoky heat from chipotle chilies is one of my absolute favorite flavors.

This dish was very quick to prepare. The recipe was adapted from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. (my last one to share… for now 🙂 ) I increased the amount of garlic and incorporated my CSA garlic scapes. We ate the shrimp filling in warm, soft corn tortillas topped with avocado, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Perfect with refried beans on the side.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes (1 1/4 pounds), quartered
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, with sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and patted dry
  • 4 T lime juice, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 2 garlic scapes, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
  • 8 to 10 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • diced or sliced avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes, chiles, and any sauce coating the chiles, with 3/4 tsp salt until mostly smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 T of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the shrimp and cook, stirring, until golden, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding them to the bowl.
  4. Toss shrimp with 2 T of the lime juice. Set aside.
  5. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the remaining 2 T of oil. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the wine and any accumulated shrimp juice from the bowl. Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.
  8. Add the chipotle mixture and simmer, stirring, until thick enough to coat a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes.
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the shrimp, cover and let sit until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  10. Stir in the cilantro and remaining lime juice. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
  11. Serve with warmed tortillas, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.

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