San Antonio Puffy Tacos for #SundaySupper

On January 5, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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One of my favorite things about being part of the SundaySupper bloggers is how the weekly themes make me think beyond what I might normally do as a home cook.  This week was definitely one of those times as I had to consider what would I make from my Recipe Bucket List. Problem was I don’t have a Recipe Bucket List. So, I thought what to do? I’ve made fresh ravioli, homemade oxtail gnocchi, stuffed chicken, and a few other things came to mind, but all things I’ve done. Then it hit me.  Puffy Tacos.

When I was in San Antonio doing training for a potential wireline union strike at the phone company I had a chance to stop at Los Barrios, a well-known Mexican restaurant famous for their puffy tacos. At first, I wasn’t impressed with the place. It looked like a local Chi-Chi’s with tile tabletops, typical Mexican-American menu combo plates, and a focus on margaritas.  I was ready to be unimpressed and back to my true South of the Border love – street tacos (I have another blog where I review ‘street tacos’ found at Gas Stations.)

I ordered what I came for: Puffy Tacos.  They were great and the margarita was pretty good too.  They’re definitely different from the typical street taco I love and still prefer over a puffy taco, but the tacos at Los Barrios were pretty darn good and I left pleased with my evening out in San Antonio.

With a Recipe Bucket List decision to be made and my now living in Los Angeles, not Dallas, it was going to be some time before I returned to San Antonio so why not try doing this dish at home. Well that is just what I did and while they were not as perfect as Los Barrios; they were pretty good and a solid 4 out of 5 rating from this taco reviewer.

What might of helped is having a deep fryer and some additional experimentation. Plus I had trouble finding fresh masa corn flour. There was some at a local natural food market last week, but when I returned this week they said they only carried it during the holidays.  Too bad. So I went to the market and found some masa harina from Bob’s Red Mill that worked nicely, better than I thought it would.  So if you can’t find fresh masa, don’t worry just use a good quality masa harina and carry-on.

Puffy Taco Tortillas
Makes 6-10 shells

2 cups fresh masa or good quality masa harina
1 cup warm water (if using masa harina)
1 tablespoon lard or butter
2 Tablespoons baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying

You’ll need a tortilla press to make this recipe. I recommend finding an authentic Mexican market and find a press that is entirely flat, no lip or shallow cutout as some have. Also the heavier feeling the press the better – cast iron is preferred.

Mix the masa and baking powder together if using masa harina. If using fresh masa, just put into a bowl.  Slowly add the warm water to your flour constantly combining with your hands and finally add the lard or butter (I microwaved butter for 5 seconds, soft not melted.)

Continue kneading together and add a little more water if it is too dry and crumbly.  Add a little more masa if it is too wet. You want it to feel smooth and not sticky.

Combine into a large ball and put into a Ziploc bag for 20 minutes.

Open the tortilla press and place a sheet of parchment paper on each side of the press.  Take out about 1 ½” inches of tortilla dough and roll into a smooth ball.  Press in the center of the press.

Put the tortilla on a hot griddle or heavy non-stick pan.  Let it cook for 20-30 seconds on each side.  With a spatula remove it and place it into another pan with about a 1” of hot oil.

Let the tortilla fry for about 20 seconds it will begin to puff. With a spatula and some tongs navigate the frying tortilla to give it a center, “V” like form. Continue frying for about 1 minute working to maximize the puffiness of the tortilla. Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

Continue with remaining dough then fill with your favorite filling.

 

Puffy Taco Filling
Makes 6-8 tacos

1 lb ground beef
½ small red onion, minced
½ green pepper, minced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp tomato paste
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped lettuce

Mix beef with cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat ground beef in a pan over medium-high heat.  Break up the meat and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and tomato paste.  Mix in pan and cook for about another 2-3 minutes.

Put cooked beef mixture into a puffy taco then top with tomato, cheese and lettuce.  Serve with some hot sauce like Tapatio and a couple cut limes.

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For more Recipe Bucket List adventures checkout the other #SundaySupper bloggers and join the chat on Twitter Sunday at 7pm EST.

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Sunday Supper Desserts and Snacks:

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Sour Cream Enchiladas

On August 27, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Sour Cream Enchilada served with Corn Chowder

I don’t make a lot of recipes that call for three cans of anything, but I decided to make an exception since these looked so good.  I did go with some different brands using some Pacific Natural Foods for the Cream of Chicken and Muir Glen Organics for the tomato and chilies.

The sauce in this recipe can be reduced by half since you really don’t need such a thick layer of it as it is presented in the source recipe.  Also, note the author’s comment, to stir the sour cream, cream of chicken and cilantro mixture regularly to keep a smooth texture.

You need about half the amount of shredded cheese too. Making these minor changes will make it slightly lighter, but this is sour cream enchiladas. No one is pretending this is a healthy choice.

The chicken mixture can also skip canned green chilies and substitute fresh chilies, preferably 1 serrano or 1 hatch chile, seeded and washed then finely diced.

Preparation is easy. Look for some decent locally made tortillas from a Mexican market, taqueria, or Farmers’ Market if available in your area.

The lesser amount of sour cream sauce and cheese will look something like this. I had ran out of tortillas, only making 5 enchiladas due to the boys and I eating a couple tortillas the day before I finally got around to making this dish.

This is definitely a dish worth trying with or without my edits. I don’t even particularly care for enchiladas but these were quite delicious and simple to make.

For the full recipe: Skinny Sour Cream Enchiladas.

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Pork Tenderloin and Jicama Slaw Tacos

On July 2, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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This is a leftovers meal.  The night before I made some BBQ glazed pork tenderloin on the grill. With about half of the loin left, I decided to shred it and reheat it in a saute pan for 5 minutes added a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and some ground pepper.  Note: You can use an asian marinated pork tenderloin too. It really does not matter.

For the slaw, I bought some jicama slaw at the local Whole Foods last night. It’s basically just sticks of jicama, carrots, and bell peppers with a light mayo. Again, you can do whatever you want here. A vinaigrette based slaw would be even better but I went with what was easy at the deli counter.

Add the pork and slaw then some hot sauce.

The flour tortillas are from Two Chefs who are at the Coppell Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning here in Dallas.  I highly recommend them and will massively miss their chips and medium salsa as I move to Los Angeles this coming week.

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Vegetarian Tacos

On July 7, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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It’s no secret I love tacos, but finding a great vegetarian taco is not easy. So many restaurants over use bell peppers or try to get to complicated with sauces or cheeses. Fortunately, I found a fairly basic recipe from the vegetarian cookbook Appetite for Reduction. I modified it quite a bit, but kept some of its essence too as I liked the minimalist but impact of the spices used.

On a side note, our son Oscar liked the tacos too with one change – “no hot stuff.”

Vegetarian Tacos
Serves 4

1 medium yellow squash, cut into small cubes
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 small red or yellow potatoes, cut into small cubes and cooked
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, removing all liquid
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of salsa verde
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
tortillas
salt

Cook the potatoes in a small pot for about 8-10 minutes until done.

Start by heating the olive oil and cooking the squash and jalapeno together for about 7 minutes on medium heat and adding some salt to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, black beans and cooked potatoes to the squash and jalapeno. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-low heat then add the salsa verde and cook for about a minute more.

Heat the tortillas. I prefer heating them on a gas stove top turning frequently to get a nice charred burn or two.

Serve.

 

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Chicken Goat Cheese Burritos

On February 19, 2009, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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It was at my first culinary class at a local culinary college in Portland, Oregon that I tried my first taste of goat cheese. Back in 1993 goat cheese just wasn’t that common. I had tried it on toasted french bread in a French Bistro cooking course. It was excellent. Since then I have enjoyed goat cheese in several recipes, including this one that I make about every couple of months.

The photo above includes a dollop of sour cream and instead of green salsa I used Jack’s Special Medium Salsa. I also made some fresh guacamole to accompany the main course. Usually, I just make some Spanish rice but simply forgot tonight, so hey chips and guac is always a good quick backup!

The other thing I tried this time was a tortilla product at Whole Foods by IndianLife foods. They are large tortillas with a good flavor but not enough of an improvement to justify the $4.79 price compared to the ~$2 packaged flour tortillas. My favorite choice is picking up fresh made tortillas at Mexicantown Bakery in Detroit’s Mexican Village.

Chicken Goat Cheese Burritos

Makes 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. (each) salt and pepper
4 flour tortillas
1 can (15 oz.) black beans
1 tsp. oil
1⁄2 cup soft fresh goat cheese, broken into small chunks
1 cup fresh green salsa

1. Cut chicken into bit sized strips. In a bowl, coat evenly with cumin, salt, and pepper.

2. Seal tortillas in foil and warm in a 350° oven until hot, about 10 minutes.

3. Place beans and their liquid in a 1-quart pan and cook over medium-high heat until bubbling,
about 5 minutes.

4. In a 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, frequently stir chicken and oil until meat is no
longer pink in center, about 6 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese with a little olive oil in a small bowl to make a paste.

6. Lay tortillas flat. Spread some goat cheese paste on tortillas. Then toward one edge of each,
fill equally with chicken, beans (including liquid), and salsa. Fold over sides and roll up tightly
to enclose. Add more salsa to taste.

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