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Make Michael Kornick's Chicken and Cactus Taco from Mercadito

By Amy Cavanaugh in Food on Nov 5, 2011 8:00PM

2011_11_05_taco.jpg Each month Mercadito offers Tacos for Strength, a tasty promotion that features a special taco created by a guest chef. This month's taco is from Michael Kornick, chef and founder of mk, DMK Burger Bar, Fish Bar and chef/partner of 9Group in Las Vegas. His Tacos Nopalitos y Pollo is available at Mercadito locations in Miami, New York, and Chicago until November 30. Mercadito donates a percentage of the proceeds to Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger.

Chicagoist sampled the taco this week, and loved the tender chicken paired with cactus, one of our favorite Mexican ingredients. Stop by the restaurant for lunch or dinner to try the taco (for lunch a plate of three is $12, and for dinner a plate of four is $16), or whip up a batch at home with Kornick’s recipe below.

Other Chicago chefs creating special tacos over the next year are David Blonsky of Bull & Bear and Public House in February 2012, Big Star's Justin Large and Paul Kahan in May 2012, and Giuseppe Tentori of Boka Restaurant and GT Fish & Oyster in August 2012.

Can't get enough limited edition dishes? Belly Shack's Bill Kim has created a falafel wrap made with tofu and tomato relish, giardiniera, crispy shallots, and Belly Fire Sauce that's available at Falafill. Sales from the sandwich, which you can get through November 30, raise money for Academy for Global Citizenship.

Recipe for Tacos Nopalitos y Pollo
Makes 12 small tacos

24 thin corn tortillas 4-inches to 5-inches in diameter
Oil to warm on the griddle

1 fresh Nopalitos cactus
2 cups rich chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. olive oil

1 pound of chicken breast
2 cups rich chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 Serrano chiles minced
½ cup sliced onions
½ tsp cracked black pepper
Salt to taste

6 medium tomatillos
Oil to grill
Salt and pepper

½ cup chiffonade cilantro
¼ cup minced red onion
½ Serrano chili minced (no seeds)
6 lime wedges

1. Poach the cactus in the chicken stock with salt and pepper until tender, remove, drain and let cool.
2. Slice into 2.5" long thin strips, toss in a little olive oil, reserve
3. Poach the chicken in seasoned chicken stock with the butter, onions and Serrano pepper
4. Remove the chicken when it is just cooked, let cool
5. Reduce the cooking liquid until dense and syrup like about 1/3-1/2 cup
6. Julienne the chicken and toss in the remaining buttery liquid, reserve
7. Season the tomatillos
8. Toss the tomatillos in the oil
9. Char on a hot grill until tender, remove and let cool
10. Dice the tomatillos (they will be a bit mushy like salsa, this is just right)
11. Combine the garnish ingredients, reserve
12. Warm the cactus and chicken separately

To Assemble:
1. Heat the tortillas, two per taco. Place the cactus down first, then the chicken
2. Top with a spoonful of tomatillo and a sprinkle of the onion, cilantro, Serrano mix