These tacos were José's homemade take on tacos de canasta. Typically these tacos are made with mashed potatoes as the filling. They're doused in hot oil and chile sauce and covered to steam in it.
This version is much lower in fat than the typical option. What's nice is it's a great option for vegan or vegetarians in your family. You can also make a version which includes ground beef, or a mixture of mashed potatoes and ground beef.
Admittedly, I'd really recommend having the pinto beans made earlier in the week and simply stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge or freezer. This simplifies a lot of weeknight cooking while still having super flavorful dinners.
This salsa is quite spicy. You can make it sweeter by increasing the amount of tomato vs. chile. Or you can simply omit it if you're spice-averse.
One ingredient that might raise an eyebrow is the inclusion of Maggi seasoning. The story behind its inclusion is one I love, but admittedly it is absolutely a highly processed food. What I found hilarious was that one of our neighbors moved away and left us all kinds of things. One of them was this half-used bottle of Maggi seasoning. I admittedly scoffed at it and nearly threw it out, but José was curious to try it and added it to tacos one day. His face lit up as he realized that the Maggi seasoning is what gave tacos the taste of home back in Mexico. So although I'm not about to include a ton of highly processed food into most of my daily eating, I like keeping it in this recipe. What it does ultimately is add umami and saltiness, which soy sauce can absolutely do if you don't have Maggi seasoning on hand.
250g dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1/2 onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup small potatoes with thin skins
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
100g ground beef
1/2 tsp Maggi seasoning (or soy sauce)
2 dried chiles de arbol
200g shishito peppers
6 corn tortilla
1 tbsp white onion, minced
To make the beans rinse the soaked beans and stick into a pot with a few inches of water above the beans. Toss in the onion and garlic into the pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10-15 minutes. Then lower the heat and let simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are fork tender. Season with salt. The beans will need more salt than you think.
Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced (400°F). To make the mashed potatoes, wash the potatoes, place into a pot of water with 1 tbsp salt and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are fork-tender, around 15 minutes, drain them and mash. If you have larger potatoes, you can cut them into 2" chunks to speed up the cooking time.
To make the ground beef filling, grab a large sauté pan and heat it on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic and sauté until translucent and just starting to brown. Add in the ground beef and stir until the beef crumbles. Then stop stirring and let the bottom-side brown. This will add a richer depth of flavor. Season with the Maggi seasoning and salt. Give it a good stir and let it rest off the heat.
For the salsa, place the chiles and tomato into a large pot with water. Bring to a boil and cook them until their colors pop a bit (5-10 minutes). Drain, remove the stems on the chiles and place into a blender. Add fresh tap water to reach the desired consistency. Blend on high and then season with salt to taste. Pour back into the pot and heat on medium-low heat to meld the flavors.
On a small tray, place the shisito peppers into the oven to roast and soften. Remove from the oven when they've been fully cooked through.
To assemble, place one corn tortilla down, fill half with the filling of your choice, and fold in half to form a half-moon. Place on a small baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat this process with the remaining tortillas. Drizzle some of the salsa on top of each taco. Be mindful that this salsa is pretty hot. Then place the tray in the oven to allow the flavors to meld for 5-10 minutes. Serve the tacos with a side of beans and shishito peppers, topped with some raw white onions for an extra punch.
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- Julia Feld