Chicharrones cha cha Cha!

In food on 04/05/2009 at 6:48 pm

After a weekend of wrangling my classroom Spanish into a state fit for apartment negotiating, we have landed a lease from a Colombian. No, not a drug lord. We were going to celebrate by going to Tehuitzingo Mexican Deli for huitlacoche tacos in midtown, but after hiking for miles in the urban jungle, we barely collapsed on our couch with greasy bits of Portuguese roast chicken and salt-crusted pork ribs from our new ‘hood drying on our fingertips.

We have met more nationalities of Hispanic origin in the past two days than we’ve ever seen in our time here in the Big Apple. And the new town is chockful of non-taco eateries. In fact, our landlord scoffed at the mere idea of tacos. “I eat Colombian food,” he said, “not ‘tacos.'” He proffered recommendations for the real deal in town. The foodie dream lives on!

But oh, that other breed of tacos I was introduced to in San Antonio, the breakfast taco, a flour tortilla stuffed with eggs, bacon, ham, was the gringo alternative to the native stuffings: barbacoa, lengua, chivo, and my favorite, chicharrones en mole verde. It turns out that mole is not just that thick, dark brown, spicy chocolate sauce, it’s also this tangy green hot salsa.

On South Alamo, I’d regularly trek downtown on the weekends, following the meandering of the river, to Tito’s Mexican Restaurant, where they served the most awesome homemade fluffy, warm, QQ tortillas wrapped in thin foil and stuffed to the gills with guisados. See the thing I didn’t like about the simple egg and bacon tacos were that they had no gravy, so they were tough to choke down on the job site if I happened to not get a side of salsa. And the flavor was a bit lacking, even with bits of charred chorizo nestled within. But on a cold wintry morning (you wouldn’t believe how chilly it got in San Antonio), biting into a hearty stew-filled tortilla was the most satisfying chow I could imagine.

I’ve never found breakfast tacos north of Texas, at least not in New York City where the traditional double corn tortilla taco is barely represented properly. So here is my homage to Tito and my other South Alamo haunts: La Tuna Grill – basically an outdoor gringo cantina on a traffic island, where the asphalt is covered with old beer bottle caps to crunch under your Tevas, and the Blue Star Art Gallery – a collective of hipsters in a series of tin-roofed enclaves, distant cousins to those artistes of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg.

Breakfast Taco Ingredients:
2 lbs pork rinds (chicharrones, use fresh ham hocks or fried, dried kind, in a bag)
jalapeños (heat level to taste)
fresh cilantro
lime juice
salt & pepper

To make the mole verde, saute garlic in hot oil until fragrant. Add chopped tomatillos, jalapenos and cook until tomatillos are tender, ~7-10 min.  Add chopped onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. (If you like soupy salsa, immersion blend the mix now, I prefer chunky).

Add chicharrones to mole. Simmer 30 minutes or until soft. Reseason to taste.

Serve inside flour tortillas.

Flour Tortillas Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-6 Tbsp. lard (Manteca is king! unless you render your own stuff. The other day I saw rendered duck fat being sold at Whole Foods. drool.)
~1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut lard in with fingers or fork. Add warm water a little at a time until dough is soft, not sticky.

Knead the dough for a few minutes until skin is shiny.

Pull off pieces of dough to form about 8 dough balls. Let them rest for 15 minutes, covered with damp cloth. They will be easier to roll out.

Heat up skillet/cast iron griddle to medium to high heat.

Dust each ball with a little flour before rolling out. The thicker you leave it, the more QQ!

Put tortilla on the hot skillet/cast iron griddle. It takes just a few seconds to cook. Flip to the other side. Crusty brown speckles means it’s done. Place them in a towel to keep warm.

It is best to make your own flour tortillas unless you have access to Porky’s.

i want some tito's!

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