Taquitos. Do you remember the first time you ate a taquito? Do you remember biting into that hard corn tortilla shell and experiencing the full flavor of the soft, shredded meat on the inside? Love at first bite. And this love has never faded. If anything, it was brought to a whole new level the other night. A deeper level. Of full understanding and appreciation of something so simple yet complex all in one.
Taquito: A Mexican dish consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling, usually beef or chicken. The filled tortilla is then crisp fried.
Yep....leave it to Wikipedia to sum it up in a nutshell.
Back in May, my mommy was out here visiting from Alabama. I took her with me to the local Mexican market, Vallarta. While we were browsing around, we came across one of my favorite, though way to small in my opinion, section of the market....the place where they sell the fun stuff. The gadgets. The stuff to make the stuff, ya know? The mortar and pestles, the tortilla warmers...the lemon and lime squeezers.
The tortilla presses!!!!
Mom bought one for me :). How fitting is that.....she introduced me to taquitos when I was a child and she provided me with the tool to make my own taquito from scratch as an adult!
Thanks MOM!!! You're the bestest!
I could go on and on about my mommy being my inspiration in life in so many ways....but this is going to be a long post as it is. So I'll save the mommy praising for another post. Mom will understand. Moms always do ya know :)
Now that we have the mushy stuff out of the way....lets get down to business. I did a little tiny bit of research before starting my tortillas. I received a lot of very helpful information from Simply Recipes. They have a fantastic tutorial.
After a trip to the Mexican Market for the Masa Instanteanea de Maiz (Instant Corn Masa Flour), I was ready to go!
Check it out....those are all the ingredients needed to make homemade corn tortillas.
And the corn flour? As soon as I measured it out...I could smell it. It smelled like tortillas, like corn, mexican restaurants....and comforting.
2 cups Corn Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups water
Mix all ingredients thoroughly for about 2 minutes to form a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little water. If it's too wet, add a little corn flour.
It's not a sticky dough so I didn't even need any flour for the surface.
Divide the dough into 16 equal balls
Either cover them with a damp cloth or place in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out.
Line the tortilla press with a piece of plastic. Place a ball on the press and cover with another piece of plastic.
This will prevent the tortilla from sticking to the press.
Close the lid and press together with the "arm", applying slight pressure
Open and see what you did....
Ok....this was my first attempt. See how it's pushed to the front and messed up at the edge of the press? It was at this point that I remembered watching Alton Brown make tortillas and he mentioned how the dough ball should be slightly off center to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Great episode. Love the guy!
Soo...the next dough ball was placed slightly off center, positioned more toward the press hinge
I was so thrilled with the result that I forgot to take a picture and proceed to cook it. (I also cooked the slightly messed up first one. I mean...why waste it, right?
Soo...as you press the dough, lift off the top layer of plastic wrap, place tortilla in your hand with the second piece of plastic facing up...the tortilla halfway supported by your hand and the rest of the tortilla draped over the side of your hand. (Yes, thats from the first dough ball that I did and messed up.)
Gently lie the tortilla on an ungreased skillet that's been preheated on medium-high.
Cook tortilla for about 50 - 60 seconds on each side. Remove from skillet and keep warm in a cloth napkin or tortilla warmer while you continue to bake the rest of them
And then stand back and admire the fruits of your labor. That probably took about 45 minutes. And that was because your griddle / skillet could only cook one tortilla at a time.
Now, because they are warm, you will not need to preheat the tortillas to make them flexible enough for taquito rolling.
The meat I made for the taquitos is not authentic. It's a combo of a few recipes that I saw and liked (and some parts I discarded). I've heard of people even using canned beef hash as the taquito filling. Don't stress over it. If it tastes good....it's all good.
Simple Taquito Meat
Shredded chicken from 1 roasted chicken
1 teaspoon cumin
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 medium onion, diced
1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chunky salsa
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Vegetable oil for frying
Heat about 1 inch of oil in a pan
Combine and heat through. Try not to have a very wet mixture. You don't want to sog out the tortilla.
Take a spoonful of meat and place down the center of a corn tortilla, slightly off center.
Roll up and hold together with a toothpick
Fry in batches, turning once as they brown
Place on a plate lined with paper towel to drain off excess fat. Remove the toothpick and serve with salsa and / or guacamole (mole, mole, mole) Sorry...I can't say guacamole without thinking of Austin Powers.
This may take a little time...but let me tell you....not only are they easy, but they taste fantastic!!
And they're real. That's why I'm going to enter this into this weeks Two for Tuesday - Real Food.
Head on over to Heather's at GirliChef's to see the other Two for Tuesday entries for this week.