A revolutionary new take on tacos, thanks to the marriage of cheese crisps and tortillas.
The only thing better than a grilled cheese sandwich is when some of the cheese melts off, falls into the pan, and crisps up. When making grilled cheese, I always make them too full on purpose so that the cheese would crisp up nicely. What if I did the same thing with tacos? I wondered recently. The solution is this marvellous creation: the crispy cheese taco.
Grated cheese is the first ingredient in the recipe. Cheddar is used in these photographs, but I also recommend Manchego, Parmesan, and Pepper Jack.
The objective is for the cheese to adhere to the tortillas and spread to the very edges. In this manner, you may have both gooey melted cheese (on the tortilla) and crispier parts (the part that overflows the edge). To do this, I spread the cheese on a cool nonstick pan in the shape of a rectangle, with one dimension equal to the diameter of the tortilla and the other dimension being half that measurement (about 5- by 3-inches for the tortillas I was using).
To begin melting the cheese, I reduce the heat to medium.
When the cheese is nearly melted, I flip the tortilla over so that half of it covers the cheese and the other half peeks out.
To achieve consistent browning, I let the cheese simmer gently while increasing the heat slightly. There’s not much time between when the cheese stops bubbling and starts to darken and when it’s burned, so as soon as I see that the cheese has browned on the bottom, I take the pan off the heat to cool and firm the cheese a little bit, making it easier to slip a spatula underneath and remove it.
This time frame should be plenty for warming and softening the tortilla without causing it to burn in the pan.
The end product is a frico-taco hybrid with a tortilla that is both soft and flexible, and a cheese crisp that adheres to the shell and overhangs it.
Scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, and spicy sauce were liberally applied to this dish before serving. A breakfast taco with this much crackling crunch and a taste as sharp as cheddar is hard to beat.
I used Manchego cheese in a different take on breakfast tacos.
After that, I put in some scrambled eggs and covered them with salsa verde, onion, and cilantro.
Instead of sticking with the morning taco concept, I opted for a parmesan-inspired spin.
Instead, I used meaty carnitas, then topped it with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro.
After eating the pepper jack version above on its own and being completely happy, I realised that fillings aren’t even necessary.
The four cheeses I used were by no means the only ones that would work here; I assume many other hard or semi-hard cheeses would also work here, so the choices of cheeses and fillings might be unlimited. Esquites, chile verde, chicken tinga, ground beef, beef barbacoa, lamb barbacoa, skirt steak, and…well, I could go on, but I believe that will keep me busy for a bit, are all on my list of things to make into crispy cheese tacos.
Recipe Ingredients to Keep
- Add 4 ounces of shredded hard or semi-hard cheese, such as parmesan, Manchego, Cheddar, etc.
- There are 8 corn tortillas in the package.
Place a rectangle of cheese measuring 5 by 2 inches on one side of a nonstick frying pan. Adjust the temperature to medium-low. When the cheese starts to melt, add 1 tortilla on top of it so that it covers about half of the melted cheese.
Allow the cheese to bake until it reaches a uniform golden brown hue. Turn off the fire and set aside until the cheese has cooled and firmed up a little.
Remove tortilla from pan by gently sliding a tiny spatula beneath the cheese. Make your selections in the notes section and then fill and serve right away. And then do it again with the rest of the tortillas and cheese.
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