Spring Tacos - with Achiote Chicken, Ramp Pico and Sweet Potato Tortillas - Madison Eats
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    Spring Tacos – with Achiote Chicken, Ramp Pico and Sweet Potato Tortillas

    Apr 28 2020

    Ramps are one of the first signs of spring in a Wisconsin grocery store or farmers’ market. The bright green leaves, tender bulbs and purple hue make people swoon. And ramps are the perfect addition to spring tacos–both blended in a crema and diced into a pico de gallo. They have a delicate garlic flavor that mirrors the beauty unfolding outside. Chef Adam Struebing, executive chef at The Madison Club, shared his recipe for spring tacos featuring glorious ramps, succulent grilled meat and sweet potatoes, which are a quarantine kitchen staple. (I want to also say that cooking with him was an absolute pleasure. And he doesn’t give proportions so this was my understanding of the process.) It took me right to Mexico

    ramo taco

    Spring Tacos with Ramp Pico

    Spring Tacos with achiote marinated chicken, ramp crema, ramp pico de gallo and sweet potato tortillas

    2-4 whole split chicken breasts
    Marinade ingredients (listed below)
    Spice rub ingredients (listed below)
    2 sweet potatoes
    2 bunches ramps, washed, leaves cut off from stem
    2 jalapenos
    1 serrano
    2 limes (in addition to 4 limes for marinade)
    Maseca for tortillas
    Olive oil
    Queso fresco
    Crema (creme fraiche or mexican sour cream)

    marinate meat and make spice rub the day before
    cook meat
    make masa
    prep crema and pico
    make tortillas

    Cooking the meat

    2-4 whole split chicken breasts (Chef also used lamb, which I think would be incredible)

    1 cup greek yogurt
    1/2 cup chipotle in adobo
    1 tbsp achiote paste (check your Mexican market!)
    Juice of 4 limes
    12 garlic cloves

    Blend this together and marinate lamb or chicken overnight.

    Spice rub for meat: (I used “poc chuc”) which is a spice paste from the Yucatan, Mexico) 
    Make a paste with 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, cardamon, 1/2 tsp oregano, 6 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup orange juice and a tad of vinegar
    Before grilling the meat, remove it from the marinade and just use your fingers to remove the marinade. Rub the spice paste on and salt the meat generously.
    Grill until done, or pre-mark on the grill and finish in the oven.


    Slice ramp stems finely
    Finely dice 2 jalapenos, seeds removed
    Slice serrano pepper in small ringlets
    Mix together in a bowl
    Squeeze juice of 1 lime and taste (add more if wanted
    Finely chop about 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro and add in (can use stems and leaves)
    Add 1 tbsp olive oil
    Salt to taste

    Ramp Crema

    Blanch ramp leaves in boiling water for 15 seconds
    Move quickly to ice water until cool

    Blend crema (use mexican sour cream or creme fraiche) with ramp leaves in a 1:2 ratio (1 part crema to 2 parts ramp leaves.) set aside

    Sweet potato tortillas

    This is a go-by-feel type of recipe.
    Start with about 2 cups of masa
    Add about 1 tsp salt or a bit more
    Puree the baked sweet potato with a bit of warm water until it’s the consistency of pie filling
    Add in the warm puree to the masa until it has the consistency of soft play-doh
    Add in 1 tbsp lard or oil
    Mix with hands, or stand mixer

    The dough should feel wet but not sticky. Make a small ball. It should not crack when you press your fingers into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for about 20 minutes.

    To make:
    Preheat dry cast iron griddle/skillet with no sides over medium/low heat
    If you don’t have a press, you can use two cutting boards.
    If you have a press, they are great!

    Place parchment or a ziplock bag cut into two large squares on the bottom of the press. Make a ball of masa about the size of a golf ball
    Press until about 1/8 inch thick
    Place on griddle/skillet and heat one side until it naturally releases from the griddle, about 1-2 minutes. Flip over and heat the other side. If it turns too brown or cracks, your heat is too high.
    Remove and set on a plate and cover loosely with a clean dry towel.

    Thinly slice the meat
    Place on a taco
    Cover with crema
    Pile on some ramp pico
    Add crumbled queso fresco
    Serve with a slice of lime.

    Otehlia Cassidy stands in front of the WI State Capitol.

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