Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Here's something funny...I sat down to start putting together a schedule/routine for my kids and this picture happened to pop up on the computer. Hmmm...I think I took this picture in July, with the intention of posting it to my blog! Right...well, better late than never :-)

This is the story of taquitos...
Taquito (from the Spanish diminutive of taco) is a Mexican dish, also very popular in Puerto Rico, consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling, usually beef or chicken. The filled tortilla is crisp-fried. Corn (maize) tortillas are generally used to make taquitos. ...
A long time ago my dad taught himself how to make taquitos, and he became the "King of Taquitos" in our family from then on. Every Christmas Eve, it wasn't about the gifts or the party, it was about the taquitos. Quite frankly, it wasn't a party if there were no taquitos! Of course, with a daughter who loves to cook, the tradition (and secrets) had to be passed down. Thus began my quest to learn the ins and outs of this tasty little snack.
Dad told me the key is in how you roll them...did you know that tortillas have a grain? And I don't mean corn! There is a slight impression, if you look closely, of lines that run in one direction. The trick is to roll WITH the grain, rather than against it. This helps keep the tortilla from splitting. Also, through trial and error, dad learned that briefly dipping the tortilla in hot oil before filling and rolling makes for a tastier, crispier finish. Aside from these two tricks, it's really all in how you season the meat.
I don't have any measurements for you...just instructions. I put a chuck roast in the crock pot with enough liquid to cover it and enough flavor to season it. I used cumin, chili powder, ceyenne pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, green chilies, jalepenos, and I may have even thrown in some cans of diced tomatoes. You can use water or beef broth, I don't think it really matters. I let the roast cook over night, then I shredded it the next morning. I added the shredded meat back to the seasoned liquid, minus the fatty pieces that always exist, and let it simmer all day, checking it now and then for flavor. It is also helpful to chop the meat up into smaller pieces, makes the taquitos easier to eat!
When I was ready (AKA: had the kitchen to myself), I began the rolling process. First I warmed corn oil on the stove and then began adding tortillas, a couple at a time. I let them sit in the hot oil just until they started to form bubbles or air pockets. I pulled them out and let them rest on a cutting board covered with paper towels. I made stacks of 10 until I ran out of room, then I began to add the meat and roll. I flipped the stacks over so I could work with the cooler taquitos first. Put a small amount of the meat mixture just shy of the edge of the tortilla (see above), fold the short side over and roll. Place it flap side down on a cookie sheet and go on to the next one. After a few, you get the hang of it and can whip out 50-60 in no time. I recently made about 180 of these babies for a birthday party, with the help Megan, and we were done in about 2 hours.
After the taquitos are rolled, you have some choices to make...freeze them?? fry them? bake them? It's really up to you. Several years back Dad discovered that you can get a nice crunch even with baking, plus you can do about 25 at a time. That was nice for him, as he didn't have 15 people standing over his shoulder waiting for the next taquito to come out of the fry pan! Whatever you decide to do, enjoy these tasty morsels with a nice bowl of quacamole, a cold cerveza, and table full of friends! But don't forget to season the finished product with Lawry's or Johnny's! A MUST! Note: The same directions for the meat can be used for chicken or pork, if you prefer either one of those! Also, flank steak or brisket make for nice shredding meats.

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