Spicy-Marinated Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Salsa

Spicy-Marinated Chicken Tacos With Watermelon SalsaWatermelon Sugar High
I have a melon patch that I planted with cantaloupes and mini watermelons. Both varieties have apparently been enjoying the warm weather as the number of melons on the vine has tripled in recent weeks. One of those watermelons looks like it’s ready to be picked. But, I am hesitating.

Just like knowing which watermelon to choose at the store is difficult, knowing when to pick a watermelon from the vine presents its own challenges. I have an unfortunate tendency to pick a number of the things I grow too early—much to the detriment of my crop yield as well as my family, who tries to eat said crop yield. Nothing worse than an unripe melon when you are expecting the taste of sweet ambrosia.

Since this is the first time in a few years that my melon growing venture has been successful, I don’t want to screw it up. So, I have been looking everywhere on the internet to get tips on how to know when your watermelons are ripe for the picking. And, I have found some interesting suggestions.

The first is the same thing they tell you when picking out a melon in the store. Look for the yellow spot on the bottom of the melon. This sounds easy enough. But, I have chosen too many yellow-spotted melons that weren’t great to trust that trick of the trade too much.

Another tip is to look for the tendril on the vine closest to the melon stem. If it is dried up and brown, the melon is ripe. If it’s not, you need to be patient. Patience is not one of my virtues. The tendril next to my melon isn’t quite dried out yet. So, now I’m on tendril watch. Hopefully, my tendril dries up and the melon is sweet ‘cause I’m looking forward to this recipe for Spicy-Marinated Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Salsa.

Spicy-Marinated Chicken Tacos with Watermelon Salsa Recipe
Adapted from Eric Kim and Food 52
Yields 8 tacos

The degree of spiciness of the marinade will depend entirely on how hot the jalapeños are—which is the luck of the draw. If you want it to be a little spicier, leave the seeds in one or more of the jalapeños.

For the tacos
4 large jalapeños
4 cloves garlic
1 cup cilantro stems
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the salsa
1 cup watermelon, chopped
1/4 cup orange bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1 large jalapeño
1 handful cilantro leaves
1 pinch kosher salt
1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper

For serving
8 small, soft flour or corn tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Prep the chicken thighs
Cut the thighs into 2-inch pieces.

Make the marinade (do ahead)
De-seed the jalapeños.

In a food processor or blender, process the jalapeños, garlic, cilantro stems, olive oil, salt, sugar, and pepper. Then toss the marinade with the halved chicken thighs. Allow the thighs to marinate in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Bake the chicken
Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Drain the chicken in a colander to get rid of the excess liquid from the marinade. Then, lay the thighs on a sheet pan and roast them at 400° F until thoroughly cooked (about 20 to 25 minutes)

Make the watermelon salsa
While the chicken is roasting, prep the veggies. Finely dice the watermelon, orange pepper, red onion, and jalapeño. Remove the cilantro leaves from the stem and juice the lime.

Stir the above ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste. Set the salsa aside.

Assemble the tacos
Heat the tortillas in a dry pan in your already warm oven. Top each tortilla with some chicken and salsa, and serve with the lime wedges.

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