Tacos in general are traditionally made with corn tortillas. One nice thing about the corn tortilla is it’s naturally gluten free. Please check your labels to be sure. Some companies put weird ingredients in everything.
If you’ve tried corn tortillas and haven’t liked them before, like my mother-in-law, try using them in different ways. I’ll show you how and hopefully convert you! If my mother-in-law can be converted, anyone can. I take this as proof that miracles can happen.
A pack of corn tortillas found in the “ethnic” food aisle at your local major grocery store or at the specialty stores located on my Where to Buy page. Please, don’t get the Old El Paso brand, the home brand is actually better.
Actually, while I’m at it, please don’t buy Old El Paso anything. Have I mentioned how much I loathe baked enchiladas? No wait, I take that back. The only thing you may buy from Old El Paso are their jarred, sliced jalapeños. Ha-la-pen-yoes. Say it with me.
Chicken breast chunks seasoned in granulated garlic, cumin and pepper and “dry fried” in lemon juice (instead of oil.)
Light sour cream and cheese optional, but tasty.
1. Cut your chicken breasts into small to medium sized chunks and dry fry in your preferred seasonings and lemon juice. It doesn’t need to be fried in oil because it doesn’t need the extra fat. Like my hips. I like granulated garlic, it’s different from garlic powder which is awful, ground cumin and pepper. When just cooked, put in a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat a large cast iron fry pan on medium-high heat and coat the bottom liberally with vegetable oil. Please don’t skimp on this part or your tacos will not be crispy, only toasted.
3. With frying tongs, put in your first corn tortilla and coat in oil.
4. Flip after a few seconds, when soft. This is so that they’re pliable enough to fold without breaking.
5. Add some of the cooked chicken in a row, just off center so there’s room to fold.
6. Fold and repeat until your pan can’t hold anymore.
7. When one side is crisp, flip with your tongs and fry the other side until also crisp.
8. When both sides are adequately crispy, remove with tongs onto a serving plate with a few paper towels spread over it to drain the excess oil away. Be careful when flipping or removing, the juices from the chicken, when dripped into the oil in the pan can bubble and splash hot oil onto your hands. You’ll probably need to give your stove a wipe down after as well. I never promised they wouldn’t be messy, just easy. Like Al’s mum.
9. Repeat until you’ve made as many tacos as you need for dinner. Two medium chicken breasts should make 10-12 tacos.
When they’re all done, add cheese and sour cream if using, add your shredded lettuce and douse with Tapatio or your favourite hot sauce. But really, you should be using Tapatio. They’ll stay crisp through dinner, but should be eaten straight away.
Other topping ideas: If you don’t want to go the cheese and sour cream route, you can add a fresh tomato salsa, a salsa verde, black beans or pinto beans, diced radishes, jalapeños, cilantro/coriander with fresh onion and lime juice or any combination of these so they never get boring. If you want to use something else besides chicken, try some mince beef with the same seasoning or make some carnitas.
That’s it! Invite some friends over, crack open your favourite dark ale and enjoy!
I’m sure some of you are asking what sort of trickery I’m going to present by suggesting a meatless beef burrito. I promise, no trickery is involved. Both my husband and I LOVE meat. That said, with the cost of premium mince (and you wouldn’t want to get anything less because you’d be paying for the fat that cooks away and isn’t consumed) on the rise and the recent reports from the export cattle industry, we wanted to look into perhaps not giving meat up entirely, but look into eating less meat-based meals during the week. Or, in this case, eating things we’d normally eat with meat, but with a substitute.
To those of you secretly groaning in your head, “Ugh, no, never.” give this a try! I promise my method of preparation won’t leave you hungry or dumping unfinished burritos in the bin. Have you ever spit out a Lord of the Fries burger? They’re pretty tasty, aren’t they? They’re also meatless. They use something called Textured Vegetable Protein, or TVP. You can buy TVP in many different forms, canned and ready to use, dry slices, dry meatball-sized chunks or dry minced. This is what we’ll be using for this burrito.
You can get TVP from most Chinese grocers, or online from these guys.
The best part about TVP in mince form is the texture. It feels like meat unlike veggie burgers made from tofu, legumes and nuts. Add the right seasonings and some might not suspect it isn’t meat if they weren’t told.
(I’ve only tested the mince form so I can’t vouch for the quality of the “sliced” or “meatball” versions.)
Meatless Beef Burritos
Ingredients you’ll need:
1 cup dried TVP mince
tsp granulated garlic
salt and pepper to taste
cumin to taste
lime (or lemon) juice
1 tsp parisian browning essence
1 beef stock cube or beef styled cubes (optional)
shredded iceburg lettuce
shredded cheese (I like colby)
tapatio hot sauce to taste
extra light sour cream (optional)
Comal or equivalent (hot plate or large dry pan to heat the tortillas)
In a bowl, add 1 cup of the dried TVP mince and 1 cup boiled hot water. The hot water will reconstitute the TVP. If you want to add a beef stock cube, add it now and mix it in well. (Personally, I don’t feel it needs it, but some people may like a beefier flavour.) Add to this the garlic, salt, pepper and cumin all to taste. Normally I add around 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp each. Squeeze in a little lime juice and about 1tsp of the parisian browning essence. This makes it look more like cooked beef mince. (It’s a psychological thing, but it does make it feel more like the real thing.) Mix well. It should look something like this when it’s done:
Pretty convincing, isn’t it?
Have your shredded cheese and shredded lettuce ready and heat your tortillas. I prefer to heat them on a hot plate rather than in the microwave because the microwave will make them go stiff and hard very quickly. If you heat them on a hot plate, they stay pliable and soft through the burrito folding process and well into eating-time. If using the large Mission tortillas, this batch should yield enough for four tortillas. If using the smaller flour tortillas, you might get six or eight burritos.
Once warmed, stack the tortillas on a preparing plate and add a couple tablespoons of the TVP mince, sour cream if you’re using it, the shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and some tapatio sauce. Then fold into a burrito and place on dinner plates. Continue until all burritos are made.
That’s it! Did I mention it’s cheap to make and lasts much longer than even frozen mince would in your freezer? Great for those on a budget. Quick as well.
Variations: You can use different filling ingredients as well. If you’ve made frijoles or spanish rice, the leftovers can be used to make burritos the next night. Mix it up.
If you make this, let me know what you think!
Tapatio (pronounced “Tah-pah-tee-o”) signifies a person originating from Guadalajara, a city in the heart of Mexico.
If you’ve been to a Mad Mex recently, you’ll be familiar with the hot sauce they provide on every table. Forget that fire water/vinegar stuff. Get this. Tapatio is full of flavour and mild enough that even my husband likes it! It was introduced to me by my “I-eat-chile-with-every-meal” father. I take that as a sign of a good quality hot sauce.
There are of course other good commercial hot sauces available, some based on chipotle (dried, smoked jalapeños) or habanero, but those who value flavour over intolerable high heats should thoroughly enjoy this hot sauce.
Disclaimer: Not endorsed by Mad Mex, Tapatio nor do I have a vendetta against Tabasco.