Monday, April 30, 2012

Taco Night

Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and being a household of Mexican food lovers, we have quite the lineup planned for this week. We had enchiladas one night, are planning stuffed poblano peppers one night, making burritos and margaritas next weekend, and last night was taco night.

Matt and I always used to say we couldn't wait until we had kids so we could have Taco Night once a week. I'm pretty sure I could get used to having tacos every Monday night.

I've been making tortillas my whole life. One of my mom's good friends grew up in New Mexico, and she taught me how to make tortillas the old fashioned way when I was just a kiddo getting babysat at her place. But, I've only ever made flour ones. For tacos, you gotta have corn tortillas, so we decided to make our own the other night. This looks like a long process, but I promise it really is easy, and it's fun!

First, make your dough.

It's literally just corn flour, water and salt. We used the same corn flour I used to make the tamales a few weeks ago. It smells heavenly when you mix it with water.

Then, form the dough into balls.

Put the ball of dough in between two layers of wax paper, then take a big pan and smash it. 

Then press down a little more until it gets nice and flat. The tortillas should be about 5-6" in diameter.

Then cook the tortillas on a dry griddle or pan for about a minute on each side.

Now here's the cool part. You can eat them at this point and just fold them in half on your plate, or you can use Matt's patented taco trick to make them hold their shape.

Just fold them in half and set them inside a cooling rack until they cool. Such a great little trick!

I ate my tacos just like this, but if you really want to amp up the flavor (and naughtiness) of taco night, you can fry 'em up. There's a great little taco place in Puerto Rico called Happy Burger, and they fry their tacos on a flat top before serving them. They are amazing.

Matt wanted to eat his tacos "Happy Burger" style, so he heated the griddle up on high heat, added a little canola oil and then fried the tacos on each side until they were crispy. I had a bite of one of them, and honestly they were out of this world. When you fry them, the tortillas puff up and get crispy at the same time, and you also get a nice crust of fried cheese all along the edge. Um, yum. 

But honestly, they are perfectly delicious un-fried as well. I ate mine happily stuffed with Gardenburger crumbles and topped with all the fixings.

Chopped romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese (shredded by hand, of course - the bagged stuff doesn't hold a candle!) and homemade guacamole. I make my guac really simply with just lime zest, lime juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and chopped cilantro. 

We also each had a generous spoonful of Matt's homemade salsa verde.

Tacos are good any which way you make them, but if you've never tried making homemade tortillas, give them a whirl!

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Makes 12 tortillas

2 cups corn flour
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. The dough should be moist and soft and form balls easily; if dough is too try, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together.

Form 12 equal sized balls of dough and cover with a damp towel while you work. To form the tortillas, put one ball of dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper (one sheet on bottom, one sheet on top), and press down firmly on the dough with a large pan. The tortillas should flatten out to about 5-6" in diameter.

Heat a griddle to 350 degrees, or heat a skillet over medium heat. Cook the tortillas for about 1 minute on each side; they should be cooked through, but not brown. They may be eaten at this point, or folded in half while warm and left to cool in a cooling rack; if desired, stuff the tortillas and then fry them in a small amount of canola oil for about 1 minute on each side, until crispy and golden brown.

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