Latin Twist: Rediscovering the Taco

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Isn’t it funny how we go through certain food phases?

Right now I’m touting the wonders of the taco. Versatile and easy, these tortilla pockets are simple and satisfying—for snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner, whenever you’re in the mood!

The thing about tacos—and I wrote about salmon tacos on Wednesday on my other blog (In the Kitchen with Arlen)—is that you can fill ‘em with whatever you or your family would like.

Salmon Taco from inthekitchenwitharlen.blogspot.com

So, for example, you could use leftover meat (that wasmy trick last night…after wow, an amazing lunch at Harvest on Hudson…where I enjoyed a fabulous piece of skirt steak but couldn’t finish it!), vegetables you have on hand, or really whatever you’d like. And just like the carnitas I wrote about, you can offer an array of condiments for your tacos, and let your family, or your guests, go town (as far as choosing their toppings!). Here I’m sharing a recipe for skirt steak tacos. But, as always, it’s your choice…and, as I’ve said before, the sky’s the limit!

One important point: you want to get good tacos!  Here in New Rochelle we are luck to have a lot of local places that sell homemade tortillas. And though Trader Joe’s aren’t bad, I find that the homemade ones (many gluten-free, by the way!) have a taste that can’t be beat.

And, mis amigos, now that I’ve shared some of my fillings, I’d like to hear about yours! ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Skirt Steak Tacos

Yield: 4

Skirt Steak Tacos

One of the many features of the taco is that you can accommodate people with different food restrictions/preferences at one meal! Simply offer fillings that meet the needs, or tastes, of your family and friends!

Ingredients

  • 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (note: you can marinate the steak in chimichurri for several hours and up to 24 prior to serving)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, thinly shredded
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced and lightly sautéed (I actually cooked mine in orange juice and a bit of apple cider…so they were even sweeter than normal!)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, halved and diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used jalapeño Monterrey jack!)
  • Mango or your favorite salsa
  • Black bean or your favorite salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to high.
  2. Toast the tortillas over a gas-stove flame (this really brings out the flavors of the tortillas), or simply wrap and keep them in aluminum foil and on the top rack of the grill while the steak is grilling.
  3. Heat a grill, or a grill pan over high heat.
  4. Brush the steak with oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  5. Grill on one side until golden brown and slightly charred, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Turn the steak over and cook to medium-rare doneness, about 3 to 4 minutes longer.
  7. Let it rest for about 5 minutes then slice against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  8. Fill each tortilla with 3 to 4 pieces of meat, sautéed onion, salsa, sour cream, and avocado OR let your guests fill 'em themselves!
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About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

4 Comments

  1. Chrissy, Thanks so much for your feedback on the tortillas, and now, wow, I’m looking at your dumplings! About your question, I have to say that no, I haven’t made my own…but this recipe for flour tortillas looks good (http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2012/03/homemade-tortillas/), and I know that Rick Bayless has a good one for corn tortillas (http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/view?recipeID=266) which is similar to the arepas (Colombian corn cakes!) that I make all the time. Thanks again–and let me know how it goes!

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