Low-fat adaptation of Mexican tradition

April 21, 1996|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,KNIGHT-RIDDER TRIBUNE

Authentic Mexican food is fresh, spicy and quite different from the heavy "Tex-Mex" food that Americans are used to. In this simple adaptation of traditional soft tacos, chicken, lemon, onions and corn tortillas blend into the memorable flavors of Mexico.

These tacos are low in fat because the ingredients are naturally lean and a minimum of oil is added during preparation.

Garnish with fat-free salsa and lettuce, but be wary of high-fat condiments such as sour cream, cheese, avocado and olives.

Mexican-style soft lemon chicken tacos

Makes 8 tacos or 4 servings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 to 5 ounces each)

juice of 1 fresh lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cup)

1 green onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

8 corn tortillas

1/2 cup salsa

1 cup shredded or chopped lettuce

At least 1 hour before cooking, marinate the chicken breasts in the lemon juice. The chicken can marinate for up to 12 hours. When ready to cook, finely dice the chicken into 1/4 -inch pieces. (The chicken breasts can also be grilled whole and diced after cooking.)

Add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil to a large, nonstick skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, green onion and garlic and saute for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the chicken pieces and season with the cumin, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the chicken is opaque and firm to the touch. Add the chopped tomato and cilantro and the lemon juice. Turn off heat and transfer to an oven-proof bowl or platter.

Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of all eight tortillas lightly with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Set a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the tortillas individually on both sides until golden freckles form, about 1 minute per side. Sprinkle a large sheet of aluminum foil lightly with water and transfer the tortillas to the foil. Wrap up the foil tightly and steam the tortillas in a 250-degree oven.

When ready to serve, place the chicken filling, salsa, lettuce and tortillas in the center of the table and let each person prepare his or her own tacos.

Nutrition per two tacos: 343 calories; 33 grams protein; 34 grams carbohydrate; 7.9 grams fat (21 percent of calories from fat); 76 milligrams cholesterol; 644 milligrams sodium

Pub Date: 4/21/96

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