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Ruby Taco

chicken taco ruby soho rancid punk rock
“Echoes of reggae comin’ through my bedroom wall”

Theme song by Rancid “Ruby Soho” from …And Out Come The Wolves
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“…And Out Come The Wolves” is one of the greatest punk rock records ever made. It’s the logical extension of the Clash’s legacy even if it eschews most of their political stance. A deliriously brilliant blend of straight-ahead punk, ska, a dash of roots reggae, and sloppy rock, it ranks as one of my favorite Epitaph releases and possibly my favorite punk album from the ’90s. It’s an “All Killer No Filler” album that is very rare in any genre but seems especially so in the punk realm. Sure, associating “Rancid” with any sort of recipe is risky, but really it’s more about the song than the band. Right?

A Q joint I once ran in Bed-Stuy had a rock theme, and it was there I started my professional obsession with musical food puns. I made a variety of sauces all with rock-themed names: Mean Mr. Mustard, Whiskey A Go-Go, and Straight Edge. I wanted a sauce based on the great selection of dried chiles I found in Bushwick. This was my first experiment with making my own chili paste. It turned out to be more of a hot sauce than a BBQ sauce. It’s a slow burn sauce that builds up over time. On the plus side, that burn dissipates fairly quickly. It’s also has a deep ruby color. So when it came time to name it, I went for my favorite track from my favorite ’90s punk album: Ruby Soho.

This taco recipe came out of recipe testing for my first cookbook. I figured no one needs 5 gallons of sauce at home, so I had to take my restaurant size recipes and scale them down for home cooking. I, therefore, ended up with a few batches of sauce good enough to make the cookbook, but not necessarily my favorites. The base sauce for this taco, Ruby Soho, is one of those sauces. It’s not that I am not proud of this sauce. IT’s just a bit spicier than I’m up for these days, so I decided I need to find a quick way to use it up.

Much like the Sweet Bird Of Truth, my decision was to make tacos. I mean, it’s pretty much a no-brainer when you’ve got a batch of sauce with a chili paste base. I found chicken thighs work best with this sauce. Braising helps pull back on the base heat of the sauce and the rendered chicken fat makes for a great Ruby reduction. The Tomatillo Chow adds a nice layer of sweet, sour, and crunchy. Queso fresco and a bit of sea salt bring the needed saltiness. I tend to add a bit of hot sauce to every taco so you should too.

It’s the perfect taco to eat while listening to your neighbor play reggae too loud (but honestly you don’t mind).

RUBY TACO
Ruby Soho chicken, tomatillo chow and queso fresco on flour tortillas
Makes 3 tacos

6 ounces of Ruby Soho Chicken (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons Tomatillo Chow (see recipe below)
2 ounces of queso fresco
3 flour tortillas

Toast the tortillas. Divide the chicken between the tortillas. Top with Chow Chow and queso fresco. Add a bit of hot sauce if that’s your thing.

RUBY SOHO CHICKEN
Makes 1 quart

4 pounds of chicken thighs, deboned and skin removed (save to make chicken stock)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
16 ounces of Ruby Soho sauce
2 limes, juiced

NOTE: I buy bone-in skin-on chicken thighs as they are cheaper and the trimmings and skin can be used to make a delicious homemade chicken broth. If you do not want to trim your own thighs, 7-8 boneless skinless thighs will work.

Preheat oven to 325°F

In a small bowl, combine cumin, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.

Place trimmed thighs in a large bowl and coat with the spice mix.

Spray an 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Take a half cup of sauce and pour it into the dish to coat the bottom. Arrange thighs in the dish on the sauce. Cover the remaining sauce. Squeeze 2 limes over the sauce. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 70 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest with the foil open for 15 minutes.

Transfer chicken and onions to a bowl and, using a fork, shred the thighs. Pour the sauce from the baking dish into a small pan and reduce by half on medium heat. Pour reduced sauce over shredded chicken and mix well.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

RUBY SOHO SAUCE
Makes 3 cups

2 dried ancho chiles
3 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried chiles de Arbol
3 dried puya chiles
4 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Place chiles in a bowl and cover with 5 cups boiling water. Let chiles soak 1/2 hour to soften. Reserving the soaking liquid, de-stem, and de-seed the chiles once soft and place in a food processor. Add soaking water and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Saute onion until soft. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Add brown sugar, dry mustard & salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and the chile paste. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil – reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

TOMATILLO CHOW
Makes 1 quart

1 medium green pepper, fine dice
1 medium red pepper, fine dice
1/2 large sweet onion, fine dice
3 large tomatillos, husked and washed – fine dice
2 cups green cabbage, coarse chop
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brine
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2  cup water
3/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1/3 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/3 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Place all of the vegetables in a large bowl and mix with the kosher salt. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours.

In a large heavy pot, combine the brine ingredients whisking until sugar has dissolved. Drain and rinse the vegetables and add them to the pot. Stir to completely combine vegetables and brine.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Let relish cool and pour into a clean airtight container. Store in refrigerator.

Posted in bushwick, comfort food, cooking, food, foodmusic, grillclub, music, musicfood, recipe, taco, tex mex

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