Last week I was able to spend time with my parents. They live about seven hours away, as the crow flies, wait…I mean, by car…so spending time with them is always a HUGE treat.
One of the things I love about visiting my parents is eating my mom’s food. She’s one of those people who never gives herself credit for being amazing, which I simply can’t understand – seeing as how I think she’s, like, you know, Superwoman. I’ve been trying to get her to admit that she’s a great cook for years, but she truly thinks her food is – at best – mediocre.
Meanwhile, no matter how hard I try and even if I do exactly what she does when I use her recipes, my food just doesn’t come out the way hers does.
That’s how I know she’s a chef. Anyone can follow recipe directions, but a chef has an intuition about his/her food that is utterly unique. That’s why my mom’s food will always be better than mine. And I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m super proud of her because of that! And most of all, I’m thankful that she faithfully made delicious (or, simple, she would call them) meals for our family all those years because that was the catalyst for my current love of all things food. I’m a novice foodie, you might say. And I owe it all to my momma, whom I love deeply and admire greatly.
I could literally talk about my mom all day, but since we have some Homemade Shredded Beef Taquitos to make, I’d better get back on track.
What I meant to say was that during my visit with my parents, my mom was making a fried tortilla dish similar to taquitos called tostadas. (I hope to be able to write a post about how to make them very soon, so stay tuned!) We had all been out at the pool, but when we walked in, the smell of fried corn tortillas was filling the house.
I took a full, deep breath through the nose and said, “It smells like…”
“Mexico?” My mom said, and we both chuckled.
“…home. I was going to say it smells like home.”
And that sums up how I feel about my mom’s cooking. I love it not for how it tastes, but for how it makes me feel. Safe…young…loved.
Don’t get me wrong, my mom’s food tastes amazing, but it’s more than just food to me. It’s who I am.
So today I’d like to share a little bit of who I am with you.
They’re called Homemade Shredded Beef Taquitos and they are to die for!
What You’ll Need
A plate and paper towel (for draining excess oil)
A shallow, wide, nonstick pan
Guacamole (yes, I consider this a must have ingredient)
The Shredded Beef
The best taquitos are the shredded beef kind, but you can make them with any type of meat: shredded chicken, shredded pork, ground beef, even tofu! In my humble opinion, though, the only kind of taquitos worth eating are shredded beef taquitos.
To make Homemade Shredded Beef Taquitos, you must have Crock-Pot Shredded Beef. I promise, everything else pales in comparison! You can click the link for the full recipe, or you can use the snapshot recipe below.
In a crock pot, roast a beef round (I have found that Costco’s beef rounds are excellent in this recipe) for six-eight hours (on high, longer on low), until it is “fall apart” tender. That is, when you insert a fork, the beef shouldn’t feel tough at all.
To be more specific, insert the round of beef, fat side down, into the crock pot and add enough water to cover an eighth to a quarter of the round. That usually works itself out to about 2 cups of water, give or take. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper directly onto the round. Then, slice one onion, one green bell pepper, and (peel and chop) three cloves of garlic, and add them to the crock pot (mostly on top of the round).
Cover and cook the round on high for six-eight hours until the beef is tender and the vegetables are wilted and translucent. Then, scrape the cooked vegetables and excess fat off into the (now) beef broth and remove the round to a nearby plate or bowl.
Make sure to save that yummy beef broth, though. You can use it for a bunch of different things, like Beef Au Jus or Beef Demi Glace.
Refrigerate/freeze immediately (for later use) or, if shredding promptly, let the round stand for about 20-30 minutes (until the interior is no longer scalding hot). Then, with your hands (truly the best method), shred the beef just like you would string cheese, until you have a neat, little collection of beef strands with which to make your taquitos.
Again, you can refrigerate or freeze your beef at this point too, if you don’t want to use it right away. I usually cook two rounds at once and shred and freeze one of them so that I have shredded beef on hand when taquitos or tacos come up again in my meal rotation (once a week). One average-size round usually makes about 20-30 taquitos, depending on how much beef you use to fill each tortilla.
This last step is optional, but I really think the depth of flavor it produces enhances the flavor of the taquitos exponentially.
In a nonstick skillet, pan sear the shredded beef in a little bit of canola oil, salt, and pepper until moderately browned, rotating periodically. Remove from the shredded beef from the pan and let it stand for a few minutes until it is cool enough to work with. Set aside.
Corn tortillas need to be softened before they can be used in fried dishes because they will crack and tear if this step is skipped. There are two ways soften corn tortillas. The long (but authentic) way is to heat them on the open burners of a gas stove or on a cast iron comal (toritilla warmer).
But, if you’re like me, you don’t have time to heat 30 tortillas, one by one. That’s why option two is the one I use. It’s cheating, but it works.
Stack about 15 corn tortillas on a paper plate. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Take the bottom half of the tortillas and move them to the top of the stack. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Set aside.
Assembling the Taquitos
At this point, you will want to create your taquito assembly line: shredded beef, tortillas, toothpicks.
Before you begin assembling your first batch of taquitos, start heating just enough canola oil to cover the bottom of your pan on medium-high heat. You want to oil to be very hot by the time you are ready to fry your taquitos.
Place a small handful of shredded beef in the center of a tortilla.
Fold one side of the tortilla up over the shredded beef and curl inward, wrapping it completely around the shredded beef.
Then continue rolling the tortilla until one side completely reaches the other.
Insert a toothpick into to taquito, making sure it goes completely through the outer flap of the tortilla and the remaining taquito.
This is what they will look like when you’ve got a few of them rolled and ready for frying. I usually roll and fry them in batches to make the most of my time.
Frying the Taquitos
Fry the taquitos in hot canola oil for two-four minutes on each side, or until golden brown and fairly crunchy.
Your taquitos will look like this once they’ve been fried on one side:
Prepare a paper plate lined with two paper towels to drain the excess oil from the fried taquitos.
Once each taquito is sufficiently browned on both sides, use tongs to remove them, one by one, tipping them upward so that any excess oil drips off into the pan.
Let your taquitos stand for a few minutes, both to cool down and so that the paper towel can continue absorbing any excess oil.
Once they’ve cooled down, carefully remove and discard the toothpicks. Then, plate up your taquitos with some Easy Guacamole and sour cream, lemon juice, salsa, hot sauce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, Beans del Olla, Spanish Rice, or whatever else you think would make this dish superb.
Until next time, my friends!
S. Taylor, The Taylor of All Trades