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~ Crispy Texas Steak-Chili Tacos w/Avocado Crema ~

IMG_4369If you're like me, an American cook with a fondness for Texican fare, you most likely have a recipe-or-seven for tacos (American-style ground beef tacos, grilled-beef tacos al carbonshredded-pork carnitas tacosshredded-pork tacos al pastorchicken tacosfish tacos, spicy Mexican ahogada-style grilled shrimp tacos, etc.).  Today I'm adding another one, and the inspiration for this one was simply for me find one more sublime way to serve my decadent Texas-style bowl-of-red steak chili.  It's also great way to serve or stretch leftover chili -- after the meat has had one-two days in the refrigerator to soak up some of the spicy sauce.

IMG_4278Chunky and melt-in-your-mouth tender Texas-style steak chili, made with ribeye steak, plenty of onion and garlic, and seasoned with earthy cumin plus ancho-, chipotle- and jalapeño- pepper, is at the heart of these tacos -- the unequivocal Lone Star of an otherwise typical lettuce-, tomato-, onion- & cheese-topped taco-eating extravaganza. Served on lightly-fried, corn tortillas, which pairs with the masa used to thicken the chili, a squirt of avocado crema pulls 'em all together.

Stuffing "anything beef" in a tortilla is a cowboy tradition. 

IMG_4339Mexicans have been eating what we Americans call tacos for thousands of years -- they've been stuffing, rolling and/or wrapping freshly-made and leftover ingredients, whatever they had on hand or available to them, into corn or flour tortillas since the tortilla was invented.  That said, the Mexican landscape (desserts, tropics, mountain ranges and grasslands) varies greatly, and, no different than our own United States, Mexican cuisine varies from region to region.  Depending on where your eating food stuffed into a tortilla in Mexico, fillings include charcoal grilled, pan-fried or stewed concoctions of beef, pork, chicken, seafood and/or vegetables.  All of Northern Mexico is beef country and the idea of heaping "anything beef" into or onto a tortilla for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a cowboy tradition.  I'm pretty certain some cowboy, somewhere, had to have ladled his steak chili out of of his cast iron skillet into a tortilla or three and ate his dinner taco style.

Ingredients are listed in order of assembly.  Taco-eating etiquette: never overstuff a taco -- make three instead of two.    

IMG_4341For my over-the-top steak-chili tacos (listed in order of assembly):

12  corn tortillas, lightly-fried as directed below

corn or peanut oil, for frying tortillas

sea salt, for sprinkling on fried tortillas

2-2 1/2  cups shredded jalapeño Jack cheese (2-3 tablespoons per taco)

4 cups Texas-style steak chili, steaming hot (1/3 cup per taco)

1  cup thinly-sliced then diced red onion (2 tablespoons per taco)

2-2 1/2  cups shredded iceberg lettuce (2-3 tablespoons per taco)

1  cup "coined" ("slice into coins") grape tomatoes (4-6 coins per taco)

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d29db51d970c1  cup recipe for my 4-ingredient ~ Spicy Avocado Crema: Avocado, Crema & Sriracha ~

cup (16 tablespoons) avocado, scooped from 2 Hass avocados

6  tablespoons Mexican crema

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce  

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c913222f970bWhiz together in a mini-food processor until smooth.

IMG_4316 IMG_4316 IMG_4316 IMG_4316 IMG_4326 IMG_4328 IMG_4328 IMG_4336~Step 1.  To fry the corn tortillas, remove the fryer basket from the deep-fryer, then preheat oil to 375°.  Using a pair of taco tongs, fry tortillas one-at-a-time, 40-45 seconds.  Do not over-fry the tortillas -- you want them to be crispy, yet pliable, not tortilla-chip-crunchy, at assembly time. Remove from fryer, place in a medium baking pan that has been lined with 2-3 layers of paper towels.  Lightly sprinkle with sea salt the moment each tortilla comes out of the the oil.

IMG_4347 IMG_4347 IMG_4347 IMG_4347 IMG_4357 IMG_4357 IMG_4357~Step 2.  To assemble the tacos, place two or three tacos on a plate (a small bed of lettuce underneath helps to keep them from sliding around.  Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons shredded jalapeño jack in the bottom of each tortilla, followed by about 1/3 cup steaming-hot chili (if the chili is hot, it will melt the cheese for you).  Top chili with a few red onions, followed by 2-3 tablespoons shredded lettuce and 4-5 coined grape tomatoes.  Add a drizzle of avocado crema -- they're finished and you're ready to eat.

By the time the tacos are assembled, the steaming hot chili will melt the shredded jalapeño Jack cheese for you:

IMG_4382The perfect amount of everything in a perfect taco:

IMG_4396Crispy Texas Steak-Chili Tacos w/Avocado Crema:  Recipe yields 12 Texas steak chili tacos/4-6 servings/2-3 tacos per serving.

Special Equipment List:  deep-fryer w/oil heated according to manufacturer's specifications; taco tongs; baking pan; paper towels; cutting board; chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2d3698c970cCook's Note:  A similar version of tacos can be made by substituting my ~ Hatch Green Chile Chili with Pork and White Beans ~ for the steak chili.  Native to Northern Mexico, chili verde (green chili) is a slow-simmered, broth-based stew made with pork butt, green chile peppers, onions and a variety of herbs and spices.  For a citrusy tang, lime juice is typically squeezed over each portion just prior to serving, and, other versions include tomatillos for more tang, and, a deeper, more complex flavor.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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