These Cajun chicken tacos are loaded with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, juicy seasoned chicken, and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
I’m such an idiot. I need to go to Taco Bell more often. (Allow me to explain as I realize these two thoughts don’t generally go hand in hand.)
…I was about to brag about a “unique” concept of taco construction, where a soft shell goes on the outside, and a crunchy one goes on the inside. I thought that this was a brilliant idea that my husband conjured up. As I started to write about how your life will be forever changed by this revolutionary idea, I decided that I better Google it first, just in case some genius had already beat me to the punch.
Oh, some genius beat me to the punch alright. Taco Bell did. No big deal.
So instead of bragging about the double taco-shell idea, (which is awesome and you have to try it and let’s just say that I thought of it first), I am going to brag about what I know best. Perfectly seared chicken. It totally makes this meal. You may think you know how to perfectly sear a chicken breast, but let’s just make sure of that. Read on.
How to pan sear chicken:
-The darker the pan, the darker the color you can get from searing your meat, which is a very good thing! So I like to recommend using cast iron skillets every time you sear meat/seafood.
-Thinner slices work best. Slicing a thick chicken breast into two thinner halves is the way to go.
-In addition to generously rubbing the meat with seasoning, it helps to rub olive oil over the chicken in addition to adding olive oil to the pan. This also helps to achieve a more colorful, golden sear.
–Probably the most important tip: Don’t toss the meat around. You’ll get a nice, rich, crusty sear if you leave the meat completely alone while it cooks. When it’s time to check the meat, gently lift up just a small corner of the meat to check on it before flipping. If it sticks to the pan when lifted, it’s not ready yet.
-Using an oil (such as canola) works best as it has a higher smoke point and can withstand hotter temperatures without burning (unlike butter which burns much more easily and will then pass that burnt taste onto the meat.)
–Let it rest for 10 minutes or more. Slicing into it immediately will allow the juice to run all onto the cutting board and leave your meat dry. Letting it sit lets the meat absorb the juice and gives you extra-juicy meat with a crusty and flavorful exterior.
Cajun Chicken Tacos
- 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- Salt/pepper, to taste
- 6 6-inch soft taco shells
- 6 hard taco shells
- 1 cup iceberg lettuce, cleaned and chopped
- ¾ cup diced tomatoes
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese*
- ½ cup Ranch dressing
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Slice the chicken breast in half to create two thinner, flatter slices. Rub all sides of each piece of chicken with the Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper, as well as one of the Tablespoons of olive oil.
- Take last two Tablespoons of olive oil and add it to a large skillet, (preferably cast iron), over medium-high heat.
- Once the oil is heated and glistening, add the chicken slices. Place the side closest to you down first to avoid hot oil from splattering on you and be careful. You should hear a good sizzle from the pan though.
- Refrain from touching the chicken for about 5 minutes so that the bottom gets a nice, golden sear. Even if it blackens a bit, that is fine.
- Lift one of the corners up to ensure it’s reached the color that you want. If it sticks, it's not ready to be flipped yet. Once you've ensured that it is ready, flip each piece over. Cook for another 4 minutes or so, then remove the chicken from the heat.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before you dice it, this ensures the middle stays nice and juicy!
- While the chicken rests, place a hard taco shell in the middle of a soft taco shell. Arrange all six tacos so that they are standing, this makes them easier to fill. I used two of these baskets that each held three tacos. You can also use a casserole dish with higher walls.
- Add the lettuce to each hard taco shell, allow some to spill into the soft taco shell. Then add the tomatoes.
- Dice the chicken into small squares and add it to the tacos. Top with cheese, then drizzle with ranch dressing. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve it up!
- *For cheese options you can also use a Mexican blend or cheddar jack! If you like to pack on extra heat, drizzle some hot sauce onto the chicken as it sears.
- Optional ingredient additions include: Diced avocado, red onions, sour cream, and salsa!