make puffy tacos

The widespread American notion of tacos is unfortunately binary: tender versus crispy, corn versus flour. I do know, as a result of earlier than I grew to become enlightened I contributed to those divides in my very own conversations and even writing.

In my West Texas highschool days within the mid-Eighties, classmates and I’d sneak out for Tex-Mex meals at lunchtime, and my go-to order was two crispy beef tacos, which got here with rice and beans on the aspect and doubtless price one thing like $3.99. Through the years, the extra I traveled to Mexico and discovered about its conventional foodways, I knew simply sufficient to make widespread however mistaken assumptions: I sniffed on the hard-shell taco, unfairly tagging it as nontraditional and, due to this fact, unworthy. (For too lengthy, I maligned flour tortillas in a lot the identical method.)

Get the recipe: Puffy Tacos With Black Beans

I thought-about my stance a corrective, however in reality it was an overreach, as a lot an try to distance myself from my hometown as anything. As I later realized, not solely is Tex-Mex meals worthy of its personal stage of appreciation, however hard-shell tacos (like flour tortillas) have robust connections to the motherland. Whether or not it’s tostadas, tacos dorados, or, as José R. Ralat wrote in Texas Monthly, the salbutes of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, tortillas have been fried for, nicely, in all probability so long as there have been masa and oil.

Including much more proof towards the taco-shell binary is a San Antonio staple which will (or might not) have been invented there or elsewhere in Texas: the puffy taco. For those who haven’t tried one, I want I might see your face the primary time you do. These are made not by frying a cooked corn tortilla, however by frying its predecessor, a spherical of freshly pressed masa. The disk puffs up, and the cook dinner holds a spatula or different utensil within the middle, to encourage it to type considerably of a U form (or, as one cook dinner instructed Ralat, the form of Mick Jagger’s lips). It’s ethereal and ephemeral; you drain it, fill it and eat or serve it pronto.

The primary time I had one, I used to be reminded of the primary time I skilled an actual croissant, in Paris. I used to be sitting by the Seine, and as a saxophonist performed close by (I swear!), my eyes rolled again in my head as I took a chunk, and flakes showered onto my lap. The super-delicate crunch of the puffy taco leads to the identical ecstasy — and the identical crumbles.

Purists would inform you that these have to be made with recent masa, and at eating places just like the great Los Barrios in San Antonio, they’re. However for the house cook dinner, I’m joyful to report, they prove completely nicely utilizing a serious shortcut: masa harina, the moment masa flour made by such corporations as Maseca. In truth, two of the toughest issues about making them are the identical issues which are difficult about making corn tortillas the primary few occasions: getting the quantity of moisture good (the masa ought to really feel like Play-Doh) and getting them cleanly off the tortilla press (thick items of plastic lower from zip-top luggage assist).

I additionally prefer to hold the fillings pretty sparse — and never too liquidy, to keep away from any sogginess. Puffy tacos demand rapid consumption, however making them with refried black beans slightly than something soupier provides you a bit extra wiggle room.

Loads of you might be in all probability questioning about one other shortcut, and I’m afraid I’ve dangerous information on that entrance. For this recipe, the air fryer simply doesn’t do the trick — or no less than it didn’t for me. A masa disk I put in at 400 levels simply flopped round and folded on one aspect earlier than it hardened and frivolously browned. It was crunchy, not crispy; skinny, not puffed; extra like a thick tortilla chip than the factor of magnificence I used to be after.

So even when you’re an air-fryer devotee, I urge you to tug out the oil and a pot for this one, no less than as soon as.

What about that shaping method? Nicely, that may take a bit follow, too, though the worst factor that’s going to occur is that these Jaggeresque lips may find yourself pressed a bit too intently collectively to afford a lot room for the beans, or open so large the tacos are flatter like tostadas. If both of these issues occurs, no sweat: Simply deal with the fillings extra like toppings, and the puffy tacos might be each bit as scrumptious and each bit as messy, in the absolute best method.

Get the recipe: Puffy Tacos With Black Beans

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