Tag Archives: tacos

Para Mamá, ¡Flores! Prepara unos Ricos Tacos de Jamaica con esta #Receta – Nuestra Mesa

 

Foto: Chef Aldo Saavedra

Foto: Manuel Rivera

 

 

Esta receta del chef Aldo Saavedra fue todo un éxito el año pasado. Este año, volvemos a compartirla a solicitud de nuestros lectores.

También usada para hacer agua fresca, esta deliciosa flor de singular textura y sabor puede aprovecharse para hacer ambos.

INGREDIENTES

• 100 gr flor de Jamaica seca
• 1 cebolla morada picada finamente
• 1 diente de ajo
• sal de mar
• pimienta negra molida al momento
• 10 tortillas
• aceite cantidad suficiente.
• 1 tz crema fresca
• 100 gr queso fresco.

PROCESO

1. Pon a cocer la Jamaica en agua hasta que suelte todo el color y pónla a escurrir
2. Deshebra la Jamaica y reserva.
3. Pon el ajo y la cebolla a sofreír, agrega la Jamaica, mueve constantemente y sazona.
4. Saca de la sartén, reserva y dejar enfriar.
5. Utiliza las tortillas recién hechas para hacer los tacos, o caliéntalas para que estén mas flexibles.
6. Rellena con las flores de Jamaica y enrolla.
7. Pone a calentar una cantidad considerable de aceite para freír los tacos.
8. Escúrrelos y sírvelos, acompañados de crema fresca y queso en migajas

 

 

 

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México. Encuentra más información sobre el chef Saavedra aquí.

 

 

Nuestra Mesa – Flores para Mamá: Dos Recetas para Festejarla

 

Para celebrar el Día de las Madres, el chef Aldo Saavedra nos trae dos deliciosas ideas para festejar a mamá. Estas recetas incorporan un ingrediente que heredamos de la  gastronomía prehispánica: las flores.

Foto: Manuel Rivera

QUIOTES RANCHEROS

El tallo comestible de la flor del maguey, y de sabor similar al pollo, el quiote es una verdadera joya, ya que florece únicamente cada quince años.

INGREDIENTES

■250 gr quiotes o flor de maguey sin pistilo

■1 cebolla pequeña picada finamente

■1 diente de ajo

■2 chiles de árbol secos

■2 huevos

■Sal de mar al gusto

■Aceite de maíz

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Foto: Manuel Rivera

PROCESO:

1.Pon el aceite a calentar en una sartén.

2. Cuando el aceite ya esté caliente, sofríe la cebolla y el ajo.

3.Ya sofrita la cebolla agregar los chiles picados y mueve de manera constante para que no se quemen los chiles (aproximadamente 1 min), sazona.

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Foto: Manuel Rivera

4.Agrega los huevos y mueve hasta que estén cocidos.

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Foto: Manuel Rivera

5. Sirve acompañado de tortillas.

 

TACOS DE FLOR DE  JAMAICA

Foto: Chef Aldo Saavedra

Foto: Manuel Rivera

 

También usada para hacer agua fresca, esta deliciosa flor de singular textura y sabor puede aprovecharse para hacer ambos.
INGREDIENTES

• 100 gr flor de Jamaica seca
• 1 cebolla morada picada finamente
• 1 diente de ajo
• sal de mar
• pimienta negra molida al momento
• 10 tortillas
• aceite cantidad suficiente.
• 1 tz crema fresca
• 100 gr queso fresco.

PROCESO

1. Pon a cocer la Jamaica en agua hasta que suelte todo el color y pónla a escurrir
2. Deshebra la Jamaica y reserva.
3. Pon el ajo y la cebolla a sofreír, agrega la Jamaica, mueve constantemente y sazona.
4. Saca de la sartén, reserva y dejar enfriar.
5. Utiliza las tortillas recién hechas para hacer los tacos, o caliéntalas para que estén mas flexibles.
6. Rellena con las flores de Jamaica y enrolla.
7. Pone a calentar una cantidad considerable de aceite para freír los tacos.
8. Escúrrelos y sírvelos, acompañados de crema fresca y queso en migajas

 

 

 

El chef Aldo Saavedra ha cocinado para huéspedes de establecimientos como el conocido Hotel Condesa D.F. y ha contribuído con sus recetas en proyectos con marcas de la talla de Larousse y Danone. En Nuestra Mesa, el chef Saavedra comparte con los lectores de La Vitamina T, su pasión por la cocina y por México. Encuentra más información sobre el chef Saavedra en  México de mis Sabores.

 

 

Portable Party Staple : The Phenomenal Pastor

Photo: Enrico Bellomo - Mexico City, Mexico

Photo: Enrico Bellomo – Mexico City, Mexico Tacos: El Tizoncito

Anything is possible in Mexico. Think for example, about bringing tacos al pastor to your party with two-days notice. How about a giant piñata to go along? You got it. I giggled with joy when I saw the piñata of my dreams being quickly attached with string to my father´s very compact, city-appropriate car for transportation. My dad, trying to please me, nervously nodded when I excitedly mentioned the delivery truck was unavailable, but we could get a discount if we drove it ourselves…

Car and piñata made it safely.

My husband Enrico´s cultural shock, reminded me that this is not something he has experienced before. This is how I suddenly arrived at the conclusion that growing up in Mexico, where making things happen is a matter of “how” and not “if”, must be what turned me into such an optimist. After all, ¨when there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I had the good fortune to spend my birthday with my family in Mexico over the holidays. Overnight, my mother, sister and father organized a party complete with a mariachi band and over thirty guests.  On a variety of levels, Mexico is a country with a solid, effective and reliable party infrastructure.

The issue of food was solved in an instant. No hesitation. Anyone who loves me knows that tacos al pastor  had to be the choice. Luckily, pastor happens to be an incredibly portable and popular party staple. The taqueros arrived, set up and conjured these bundles of joy with impeccably choreographed movements. This was a birthday present in and of itself.

Pastor, piñata and pastel scored to mariachi music. This was to me, perfection. What else can a Mexican girl ask for?

Happy birthday to me!

 

¡Mi piñata!

Happy birthday to me!

 

 

My Search for the Holy Grail – The Best Taco al Pastor in Chicago

A few weeks ago, I set out to find the best taco al pastor (‘shepherd-style’ taco) in Chicago. This down-to-earth, charismatic delicacy is a dietary staple of  defeños*, and despite the fact that in Mexico City taco stands abound, any local will tell you that not all tacos al pastor are made equal.  Finding the perfect taquería is almost a rite of passage, one that speaks to the way we connect with our city and beyond- a Mexican’s relationship with their pastor is emotional… personal, mystical.

The Genesis

Finding good tacos (let alone authentic ones) north-of-the-border is not so easy. Our taco al pastor story in April made me aware of the fact that I am not alone in this realization. I asked La Vitamina T readers and friends to submit their favorite al pastor destinations in Chicago. A few Facebook posts and tweets later, I had a list of 18 different establishments  endorsed by locals, among them, several Mexican transplants. Similar to how my friend Dave from New Jersey can recognize a good Philly cheesesteak, I figured recommendations from Mexicans added instant credibility to the suggestions.

This is how my search began.

Below is the final list of nominees. I visited every  establishment on this list without letting the owners or staff know my intention, as I  thought this might  influence the quality of the service:

  1. Atotonilco (I tried the tacos in both locations, Joliet and Chicago)
  2. Big Star
  3. De Cero
  4. El Pastor
  5. El Tío Luis
  6. El Solazo
  7. Indio
  8. La Ciudad
  9. Lagartija
  10. Los Comales
  11. Los Gallos
  12. L´Patrón
  13. Mercadito (tacos al pastor are only a seasonal item, so we did not get to try them)
  14. Rubi’s Market on Maxwell
  15. Taco joint
  16. Taquería Juanito
  17. Tierra Caliente
  18. Zacatacos  (Berwyn location)

Several Pepto Bismol doses and 3 extra pounds later, my wandering through the streets of Chicago and its suburbs came to an end. Dozens of tacos have been sampled and scorecards have been tallied!

 Each taco has been carefully evaluated based on criteria that we believe brings to life un taco al pastor “hecho como Dios manda.” (according to God’s orders)**

 I am now ready to “go tell it on the mountain”!

* Defeño is a Citizen of Mexico City (D.F.)

** Mexicans say something is made como Dios manda (according to God’s orders) when something is accurately accomplished.

The Exodus

If you, like me, have lived in Mexico for the great majority of your life, you will be perplexed to hear what has been smuggled into menus, and sold and passed up across the country for the real deal: some of the most popular and readily available counterfeit versions are stuffed with ground beef and covered with cheese or something resembling cheese; others are called tacos al pastor, and are served with sliced lettuce and tomatoes. Heresy!  In certain places, you might be given a choice of hardshell or softshell taco. During my search I found that even some of the taquerías in predominantly Mexican neighborhoods have lost their way- in their attempt to  to cater to a non Mexican palate, they have begun serving some of these apocryphal versions.

This leads me to provide the following word of caution: If you are visiting Mexico and you are looking for a hardshell taco, you will give yourself away as a tourist. We simply don’t have them. We have tostadas, which have a crunchy surface similar to a totopo, which is considered a completely different plate.

In the northern part of the country, flour tortillas were made popular by the Jewish settlers in the area. Still, you will find that most tacos in Mexico are made with corn tortillas.

Leviticus 

Treating oneself to tacos al pastor is an experience that entails a known ritual. Taquerías usually go from the very informal ´hole-in-the-wall’ joint, to fancier establishments featuring a more elaborate set up. The dynamics are the same across the board, and patrons know what to expect:  quick service, dinner and a show. Taqueros (half cooks, half ninjas) conjure up juicy tacos with meat and pineapple they shave off from a giant spinning skewer, to then catch the pieces in a tortilla with quick, precise movements. They do this gracefully, while keeping tallies, processing new orders, and sometimes, giving change and even interacting with the crowd.

Tacos al pastor must meet the following criteria:

1. Must be roasted vertically in a spit called trompo (top), which is clearly visible.

2. Should be made with pork meat, seasoned with a variety of chilis and achiote, which gives them their color.

3. These tacos are served in small tortillas (about 4 1/2 inches in diameter).

4. Tacos al pastor must include a chunk of grilled pineapple, chopped cilantro, raw onion and limes.

5. Salsas are very important in taquerías, and often times they become and element of differentiation.

6. Lime should be abundant and readily available.

Methodology

Each taco was evaluated using a scale of 1- 5 points for a total of 30 points in six different categories:

  • Meat quality
  • Meat flavor
  • Tortilla size and quality
  • Portion size
  • Accuracy/freshness of ingredients
  • Quality of salsa

Points were assigned using the following scale to score each taco:

1= Disappointing

2= Meh…

3= Ok

4= Really good, but not extraordinary or the real deal

5= Perfect. ¡Órale! Am I in Mexico?

Revelation

I have eaten the fruits of ¨the promised land” and I cannot honestly say that my search led me to tacos al pastor exactly like the ones I would find in Mexico City, but I uncovered some really good ones that will definitely hit the spot.  Overall, I was surprised to find that the meat in the eateries we visited was generally saucier than it is in Mexico. Also, portions are usually much more generous and, for some reason, when it comes to tacos al pastor, those with pineapple are very hard to find.
Many taquerías only take cash, so make sure you stop at an ATM ahead of your visit!

And the Winner is..!

 

De Cero – 28/30 Points

De Cero (The Loop)

Taco al pastor at De Cero,   814 West randolph St., Chicago

Find juicy, spicy tacos al pastor at De Cero, 814 West Randolph St., Chicago

Meat Quality: 5  Meat was absolutely fantastic.  We did not see the trompo, but we asked and confirmed it is indeed there.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor is really nice, but the meat has a bit of a kick to it.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5  Tortillas were fantastic. Perfect size!

Portion Size: 5   Perfect ratio. This bundle of joy offers the perfect burst of flavors in each bite.

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients, a check for cilantro, onion, pineapple (although cubed) and lime! The ratios were so good in each bite, I did not let the cubes deter me.

Salsas 4:  I got red salsa with my order which was really, really  good. 

Note: We attempted to get tacos al pastor at De Cero in three different instances. We were persistent and were able to understand why these tacos fly away. Every bite is perfect. The tacos are a bit spicy (and pricey), so make sure you order an horchata to wash them down and know that the meal will be well worth your money. Luckily, this taquería accepts credit cards, so the amount of cash you brought with you won’t  limit the amount of tacos you enjoy.  I am really intrigued by their tamales verdes. I can´t wait to go back!

First Runner Up

Big Star – 27/30 Points

Big Star (Wicker Park)

Taco al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago

Tacos al pastor at Big Star, 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago

 

Meat Quality: 4  Really good and not too fatty.  Meat was a bit chunky, which is why we did not rate it a 5.

Meat Flavor: 4    Flavor was really nice, maybe a bit sweet, but really good. Saucy, not dry as it should be.

Tortilla Size and Quality: 5 Perfect size. Tortillas were great.

Portion Size: 5 Perfect portion

Accuracy/Freshness of the Ingredients 5 Really fresh ingredients. I loved to see pineapple on them, which is not easy to find, so I did not allow the cubes to worry me.

Salsas 4 Salsa is good and they have chiles toreados (grilled jalapeños), as well as pickled peppers and carrots. But, you will have to order them separately, as they do not come with your order.

Note:

We waited for about 3 hours to get a table at this famous eatery, which was even more difficult considering the aroma around the restaurant teases you with a preview of what is to come. There is a walk-up window with considerably faster service.  The bar is quite a bit noisy, so if this is where you want to hang out, you will have to be prepared to forego conversation and focus on your food, which is well worth it.  Bring cash with you.  They only take cash! Service from the greeters might be a bit rough, but will improve once you sit down.

Second Runner Up 25/30 Points  (Tie)

Taquería San Juanito (Albany Park)

Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave,  Chicago

Taco al pastor at Taquería San Juanito 4714 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago

San Juanito was the only place where the meat was not saucy. I found their meat flavorful, but the taco had no pineapple, which lowered-down their score. Green salsa was particularly memorable.

Zacatacos (Berwyn)

Taco al pastor at Zacataco in Berwyn.

Taco al pastor at Zacatacos 6224 Cermak Rd., Berwyn

Zacatacos in Berwyn features the most tender meat you can possibly imagine. The tacos are a bit bulky and a come in a bigger tortilla, but are still really good. Salsas are amazing.

Of Note:

Bien Trucha (Geneva)

I really liked the concept of Bien Trucha, a modern-looking Mexican restaurant that reminded me of the vibe of restaurants in Mexico City. Food, not kitsch is the focus here, and the execution of the tacos spoke to quality. Also, Bien Trucha was the only establishment that got the pineapple right, as they had just a chunk of it  vs. the cubes I found in other restaurants.  I don’t remember getting any salsa with my tacos and had to ask for lime, but if you have had enough of taco talk, try their guacamole of the day or their Pulparindo cocktail! The photo below is not the best because I did not have very good lighting inside the restaurant.

Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva

Tacos al pastor at Bien Trucha 410 W State St, Geneva

Del Seoul (Lincoln Park)

This was not a taco al pastor and definitely not on the list, but in all fairness, some of the ones I tried were not really tacos al pastor either. This grilled  pork taco, a gift from the streets of LA (where fusion happens everyday) was so incredibly delicious, I thought it deserved to be added. The name of this Lincoln Park gem is code for those who know how to read it: Spanish speakers, will  phonetically  understand “Del Seoul” as “del sol”, or “of the sun”.  Mexican cuisine allegorically represents the sun in a meal with a tortilla.
Brilliant branding, brilliant food!
FInd this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul  2568 North Clark Street Chicago

Find this taco with tangy grilled pork, onion, cilantro, slaw and sesame seeds at Del Seoul 2568 North Clark Street
Chicago

De Cero is our reigning champion, but if you think there is a 30/30 taco out there, let us know. In the mean time,  ¡a taquear!