I have been on a real citrus kick lately. Maybe it is the season, but I have been going through a lot of lemons and limes. For the last couple of weeks I have been juicing close to nearly 40 limes, only to pour a…
Month: May 2012
I’m a huge fan of the Mexican torta. It is a sandwich unlike any other. Well, there are plenty of awesome sandwiches to he tried, that is for sure, but the Mexican torta is a top contender to many. Why do I say this? Well, because the Mexican torta is simple to make, has a base of great and healthy ingredients (for the most part), and can be eaten any time of the day.
I first encountered the torta in Wisconsin, believe it or not. I lived in Dallas for many years and you would have thought I would have eaten a torta in Tex Mex country, but that was not the case. I first experienced the torta at a Mexican supermarket known as El Rey. They have a small restaurant inside that makes some awesome food. As I initially steer towards authentic tacos, I decided to take on the torta. Wow, was I ever surprised. It was a sandwich, sure, but it was a sandwich, when taken a bite of, that just had everything you would expect in a delicious bite. There was texture, and flavor written all over it. As I typically go for the torta milanesa con pollo, or something else traditional, I decided to make something different this past week, the torta with hot dogs.
A couple of my kids are huge fans of the hot dogs. I always buy the all beef wieners as I think they are much better flavored, and have less parts if you know what I mean. The hot dog doesn’t scare me as it might some people who think that every wiener is packed full of parts and stuff. I tune that all of that out, because when biting into a hot dog, well, you end up with a great snap of casing, and some saltiness which gets balanced with other ingredients. Enough said, let’s get you making this torta.
- 1 Bolillo roll, sliced
- 4 tbsp refried beans, cooked
- 2 whole hot dogs, all beef, cooked
- 1/2 cup of queso quesadilla, melted (Queso oaxaca or soft melting cheese)
- 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce
- 1 small avocado, halved
To start, prepare all of your ingredients. I first boil my hot dogs in a bit of water to fully cook them, then I slice them in half, but not all of the way through. Once halved, drain the water and return them back to the skillet and sear them; caramelizing them for the most part. Once they caramelize, you need to remove them from the heat. Remove the hot dogs and add in the queso quesadilla, or the soft Mexican cheese. Let this sit there and melt. Don’t worry if it burns, it will be fine.
Now we build the torta.
Take your sliced bolillo roll and to the bottom of the base slice, spread the warm and cooked refried beans. Cover the bottom roll. Next, top with the sliced hot dogs. Add the melted cheese to the top of the hot dogs, top with the shredded lettuce, and cover that with the avocado. Feel free to mash the avocado if you want. My avocado was soft and perfect and did not need to be mashed. I was content with it.
Feel free to slice it on the diagonal, or feel free to to add the top piece, give it a gentle press, and dig right in. As I was asking a former colleague the proper way to define the to torta in terms of Torta de perrito caliente, or Hot Dog Torta, or something other, his response was “Hot Dog Torta”, and used the word “gross”. I will have to say, I’m going out and calling this the Hot Dog Torta, or maybe Awesome Hot Dog Torta.
This sandwich is great. It’s got the creaminess around the exterior, saltiness in the interior, and the crunch from the lettuce. If you are looking to try a new sandwich, give this one a shot.
While I was making blueberry muffins with my daughter last weekend, I began thinking of what I could make in the muffin tin. I think the only thing I have ever made with those muffin tins, are, well, muffins. Go figure. But as I look at them, and looked on top of my counter, I noticed some corn tortillas that I needed to use up, and just like that, an idea sparked.
In anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, I figured that I would use the muffin tin as a vessel to hold corn tortillas, and fill them with whatever I had in stock. In my case, I was going to make chicken taco cups, some filled with beans, and other just straight up chicken and cheese. After all, I have to please everyone when it comes to dinner, right?
Let’s get started:
Dry Rub Ingredients for the chicken:
- 4 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup of light brown sugar
For the Taco Cups:
- Corn tortillas, warmed, cut into smaller rounds
- Cooking spray
- Refried beans, cooked
- Head lettuce, shredded
- Avocado, cut into small cubes
- Shredded Colby Jack cheese
Start by marinating your chicken. Mix the dry spices together and rub it all over the chicken breasts. Let these marinate for about 30 minutes.
Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray, and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
While the chicken marinates, warm your tortillas in microwave, or in a skillet on medium heat until they are nice an pliable. Keep them warm in a tortilla warmer, or in a towel until you are ready to cut and place inside of your muffin tin.
Now you need to figure out how to best cut your tortillas. You can use a large cup, place over the tortilla, and use a sharp knife to cut the rounds, or you can use one of the best things I probably ever purchased, and use the round cutters, and cut into perfect rounds. Place each round inside a muffin tin. Repeat until your muffin tin is full.
Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts, and cook for about 6 minutes per side. Once the second side is cooked, add about 1/2 cup of water into the skillet, cover, and remove from the heat.
Place your muffin tin inside the preheated oven and cook the tortilla cups for about 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.
Remove the chicken from the skillet, and cut it into small, bite-sized cubes. Your goal will be to have small enough chicken bites to fit inside a tortilla cup.
Ok, now we are ready to assemble.
Add about a tablespoon of cooked, refried beans to the bottom of each taco cup. Add chicken to to top of the beans, and top with the shredded cheese. Pack it in there, and press gently into each cup. Add more cheese if necessary.
Place the muffin tin back into the preheated oven and cook another 6 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
Remove the taco cups by running a knife around the tortilla cup, and place on your serving dish. Top with shredded lettuce, and avocado cubes.
Let me just say this. My wife made me make this twice last week they were that good, and I even served them for dinner for the kids (making some without the beans), and they loved them as well.
What was great about these taco cups, were that they were bite sized, did not fall apart, and were just the perfect bite. I think taco night now will get replaced with taco cup night, they were that amazing. Oh yeah, that extra cheese crisps up around the cup while cooking, and is just an added bonus. Hope you enjoy, and happy Cinco de Mayo!