Tortilla Crusted Chicken Tacos with Pepita and Heirloom Salsa

In by Southeastern Mills


Pepita and Heirloom Tomato Salsa

  • Peanut oil or vegetable oil as needed
  • 5 Whole fresh eggs, for egg wash
  • 9 Fresh corn tortillas, cut into strips for frying
  • 1 1/2 pkg Southeastern Mills® Retail Cheese Sauce
  • 1 lb fresh small chicken tenders
  • 1/2 Bunch fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base
  • 4 tbsp. roasted and shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Anaheim Chile pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Poblano Chile pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Fresh red jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 c Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 c fresh tomatillos, chopped
  • 2 c yellow heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tortilla Crusted Chicken Tenders



    1. All of the vegetables can be roughly chopped, as this salsa will be pureed.
    2. Sauté the chiles, onion, and garlic in a saucepan with the EVOO over medium high flame until onions are translucent.
    3. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro and pumpkin seeds and continue to cook over medium flame. Boil 8-10 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat and add seeds and chopped cilantro, then puree with a stick blender until desired visual effect is reached (chunky or smooth).
    5. Depending on your heat tolerance, you may want to add habanero, scotch bonnet, or other hot peppers during the cooking process, as this recipe is mild to medium in spicy flavor.


    1. Remove protruding tendons from tenders with a paring knife.
    2. In a skillet (preferably cast iron, but stainless or aluminum will do), add cooking oil until about 1 inch deep. Heat over medium flame until oil is 350°F.
    3. Once the oil is heated, fry tortilla strips until crisp, remove strips with tongs and rest on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Once cooled, crush tortilla strips into crumbs (small crumbs will coat the chicken more evenly, large crumbs will give a rustic and visually appealing texture).
    4. Get three good sized mixing bowls and empty the cheese sauce mix into one, tortilla crumbs in another, and crack the eggs and beat with a whisk to make an egg wash in the other.
    5. Dredge the chicken tenders in the cheese sauce mix, then gently shake off the excess powder. Submerge in eggwash, then toss in the bowl with tortilla crumbs until well coated.
    6. Fry coated chicken tenders until internal temperature is 165°F (about 2 minutes on each side).
    7. Rest on wire rack or paper towels to allow excess oil to run off.
    8. Serve with your favorite flour tortillas and guacamole. We built our tacos with salsa, guacamole, fresh cilantro leaves, chicken, and a few leftover pumpkin seeds. Sliced avocados would work great as well and provide a slightly less messy taco. Enjoy!