Cooking Like A Mexican

Tacos Dorados!
BY: ALE BORBOLLA

So, there’s this hate from Mexicans towards TexMex food -not all of us hate it but it might be a little offensive for some- which comes from the fact that some restaurants take advantage of the description TexMex and imply it’s Mexican food. Well it’s not. But if we acknowledge TexMex as a whole other type of cuisine, it’s all good.

Now, recently a friend of mine (hey, Billy!) publicly confessed his love for hard shell tacos, which got me thinking, why not share this recipe with you? It’s okay, you guys! Gringo friends, I know you love them because you haven’t tried good tacos dorados, the real Mexican thing. Taco Tuesday here we come!

First, I’d like to mention that there are two variations of this dish and the main difference is the type of tortilla, the way the tortilla is presented, and the topping of the taco. As you should know by now, if you’ve been paying attention to my grandma’s cooking column, then my mom’s cooking column, and now my cooking column, Mexican food varies from one region to another.

The dish you know as taquitos, the tightly rolled tortilla, are actually called flautas in Spanish -translates to flutes, like the musical instrument- and the hard-shell tacos are the equivalent to tacos dorados.  However, these differences aren’t always attended to when flautas/taquitos are made. The result is a dish that sits squarely in the middle. The fillings are often similar, and they’re even served with similar condiments and toppings.

So, yes, you can call flautas taquitos and taquitos flautas. Just know that if you’re eating a long, thin, rolled-up tortilla that’s distinctly flute-shaped, it’s definitely a flauta.

A brief history of tacos:

-Prehispanic times: Moctezuma, (ninth Aztec emperor), used tortillas to hold his food, forming something like a taco. Fun fact: tortillas are often called Moctezuma’s spoon.

-Spanish conquest: The first taco event was a big banquet organized in Hernan Cortez’s honor.

-1908: double tortilla tacos stuffed with rice, hard boiled egg and bathed in salsa were born in Morelos.

-1950: canasta tacos are born in Tlaxcala. (Basket tacos are soft, warm and steamed.)

-1966: a restaurant in Mexico City adapts Arab shawarma and pastor tacos are born.

-2017: the $25,000 dollar taco is created in Cabo by chef Juan Licerio Alcalá as a publicity stunt for a resort.

-Present time: there is no limit when it comes to tacos.

For taste purposes, here’s the kind of taco that is typically known as flautas. We don’t know for sure exactly where they were originated, but it is strongly believed to be the state of Sinaloa.Flautas are a basic corn tortilla stuffed with shredded beef, pork, chicken and sometimes potato and cheese. They must be made from fresh tortillas, so they can be rolled without breaking and fried until crispy. Here’s where I’m pretty sure your TexMex sweet spot will be satisfied: they’re typically topped off with lettuce, avocado, sour cream, queso fresco and salsa!! They are eaten with no cutlery, typically for lunch or early dinner. They can also be eaten for breakfast, though.

It’s a staple food in Mexican households, since it’s cheap, can be made very easily and in large quantities, and flautas are served in small street food joints and high-end restaurants alike!

Without further ado, here you go.

Ingredients:

1 pound corn tortillas (best if warm from the tortilleria)

1 large chicken breast (cooked and shredded)

½ piece of your choice of lettuce. I like romaine, since it’s not as watery (previously disinfected and sliced in julienne)

8 oz sour cream

8 oz shredded queso fresco (Cotija, panela, even feta work)

1 avocado sliced

1 tomato, sliced

Red or Green salsa to taste (I prefer green, recipe included!)

Toothpicks for assembly

Vegetable oil to deep fry (high smoking point desired)

Instructions:

Warm up tortillas if needed, but it’s best to use them fresh off the tortilla machine. Here’s a tip: stick the tortillas in a thin plastic baggie, kind of like the ones you put produce in at the supermarket. Don’t tie them but fold the bag under the tortillas and wrap the whole thing in a cloth towel. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time, making sure you don’t over warm them or they’ll peel.

Stuff with the shredded chicken (you can also use pork or beef) and roll them tight but not too tight. Stick a toothpick from side to side so you can fry them without them opening up and making a mess in the oil. Masters skip the toothpick.

In a deep saucepan, pour about an inch of oil and set over the stove on medium heat. Once the oil starts looking a little wavy, carefully place the flauta in and fry. Remove when golden and crispy.

Put a paper towel in a metal strainer and place the fried flauta diagonally so all the excess oil drains out while it cools. Just cool enough to the touch.

Serve on a platter, layer lettuce, avocado, tomato, queso fresco and sour cream on top.

Each person puts the salsa on top!

My favorite salsa for tacos dorados EVER:

“Raw” Green tomato salsa.

8 green tomatoes, about the size of a ping pong ball, at the biggest.

¼ white onion

1 clove garlic – very important

Salt to taste

Just put everything in the blender, add water if needed and listo! The best salsa for your taco needs.