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For the shells:
box (12 oz) jumbo shells
For the filling:
tablespoons Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix
For the sauce
can (14.5 oz) roasted tomatoes, chopped
cups Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400° F.
For the shells: Cook pasta per the instructions on the box, approximately for 9 minutes.
For the filling: Combine ground beef with taco seasoning and cook on medium-high heat until the meat is browned.
For the sauce: In a blender, combine tomatoes, Serrano pepper, onion, oregano, garlic, salt, cilantro and water and process until smooth. Add 1/2 of the sauce over the meat. Set the other half aside.
To bake: Once pasta is cooked, drain water and let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it without burning yourself. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.
Take one pasta shell, fill with 1 tablespoon ground beef and a little grated cheese. Place in the baking dish. Repeat the process with remaining shells and meat.
Pour remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30.
Remove from oven. Serve and enjoy!
- If you can’t find fresh oregano, use 2 teaspoons of dried Mexican oregano.
- For a spicier taste, add 1 chile de árbol to the sauce.
More About This Recipe
- In my house, pasta is one of those recipes that we eat frequently because it’s economic, goes a long way and everyone enjoys it. Today, I felt like making stuffed shells with ground beef, cheese and salsa roja. Everyone loves this dish!
How To Make Gorditas (Mexican Gorditas Recipe)
As per your request, a Mexican gorditas recipe! Seriously, I can’t even begin to write about gorditas without starting to salivate! These delicious small and thick corn tortillas have a pocket stuffed with a savory filling and can be found in México being sold at fairs, markets, and street food stands. They can also definitely be made at home!
Gorditas are a great way to use the leftover stew from yesterday or the lonely refried beans in the fridge. Yes, leftovers take on a new life as a filling for gorditas, and then get transformed into a delicious meal!
You can make this gorditas recipe using masa harina or corn flour that you can easily find at your local grocery store. The most popular brand is Maseca.
How to Make the Best Salsa
First, buy the right tomatoes. Canned fire-roasted tomatoes offer rich roasted tomato flavor, no cooking required. Since tomatoes are the main ingredient in red salsa, their flavor is key—my favorite brand is Muir Glen. Stock up and you can whip up the best homemade salsa in under 10 minutes.
Drain off some of the excess tomato juice in the can. This step ensures that you won’t end up with watery salsa.
Blitz the garlic in the food processor. That way, you don’t have to chop it by hand or dirty your garlic press.
Roughly chop the onion and jalapeño. Aim for about 1/2″ pieces. This step takes just a minute and ensures that you won’t end up with big hunks of onion or pepper.
Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor: Canned tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt.
Blend just until you reach your desired consistency. I like my salsa to have some texture to it, so I blend until the ingredients are broken into tiny pieces, but stop before it’s completely smooth.
Adjust to taste, if necessary. You might want some more lime juice or salt. I love this salsa because it offers so much flavor, but it’s not excessively salty like store-bought brands.
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Roasted poblano chiles stuffed with loads of cheese, battered with an airy egg coating, and fried until crispy equate to the Mexican version of comfort food. Chiles rellenos fillings can range from ground or stewed meats to a medley of vegetables, but this recipe sticks to classic cheese. Our spicy roasted tomato salsa is the perfect foil to all of the fatty goodness here, but a Smooth Salsa Verde would also be tasty.
Game plan: Separate the eggs while they’re still cold, which will make them easier to handle then let them come to room temperature. And make sure there are no traces of yolk in the whites, or the whites will not whip properly.
Coring and removing the seeds from the peppers is easier before roasting and keeps the peppers from tearing while stuffing in the cheese. Roasting over a gas flame keeps the peppers’ shape and texture intact during frying, but if you don’t have a gas stove, use the broiler in your oven (instructions below).
This recipe was featured as part of our No-Fail Mexican Favorites for Cinco de Mayo.
What to buy
USA Pan Extra Large Rimmed Baking Sheet with Nonstick Cooling Rack, $29.99 on Amazon
Perfect for keeping your chiles rellenos warm and crisp, this sheet pan is also great for baking and roasting all sorts of things the rack is oven-safe, so does double duty for roasting and cooling.
Tips for Eggs
Eggs should keep a consistent and low temperature. This is best achieved by placing their carton in the center of your fridge. The eggs should also remain in their original packaging to avoid the absorption of strong odors.
It is wise to follow the “best by” date to determine overall freshness, but eggs can be tested by simply dropping them into a bowl of water. Older eggs will float while fresh eggs will sink. This is due to the size of their air cells, which gradually increase over time.
Cooked eggs have a refrigerator shelf life of no more than four days, while hard-boiled eggs, peeled or unpeeled, are safe to consume up to one week after they’re prepared.
The beauty of an egg is its versatility. Eggs can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are some tips in accomplishing the four most common preparations.
Scrambled: Whip your eggs in a bowl. The consistency of your scrambled eggs is a personal preference, though it seems like the majority of breakfast connoisseurs enjoy a more runny and fluffy option. In this case, add about ¼ cup of milk for every four eggs. This will help to thin the mix. Feel free to also season with salt and pepper (or stir in cream cheese for added decadence). Grease a skillet with butter over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs begin to cook, begin to pull and fold the eggs with a spatula until it forms curds. Do not stir constantly. Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove from heat and serve.
Hard-boiled: Fill a pot that covers your eggs by about two inches. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, carefully drop in the eggs and leave them for 10-12 minutes. For easy peeling, give the eggs an immediate ice bath after the cooking time is completed. For soft-boiled eggs, follow the same process, but cut the cooking time in half.
Poached: Add a dash of vinegar to a pan filled with steadily simmering water. Crack eggs individually into a dish or small cup. With a spatula, create a gentle whirlpool in the pan. Slowly add the egg, whites first, into the water and allow to cook for three minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to kitchen paper to drain the water.
Sunny Side Up/Over Easy/Medium/Hard: For each of these preparations, you are cracking an egg directly into a greased frying pan. For sunny side up, no flipping is involved. Simply allow the edges to fry until they’re golden brown. To achieve an over easy egg, flip a sunny side up egg and cook until a thin film appears over the yolk. The yolk should still be runny upon serving. An over medium egg is flipped, fried, and cooked longer until the yolk is still slightly runny. An over hard is cooked until the yolk is hard.
Eggs can easily be frozen, but instructions vary based on the egg’s physical state. As a general rule, uncooked eggs in their shells should not be frozen. They must be cracked first and have their contents frozen.
Uncooked whole eggs: The eggs must be removed from their shells, blended, and poured into containers that can seal tightly.
Uncooked egg whites: The same process as whole eggs, but you can freeze whites in ice cube trays before transferring them to an airtight container. This speeds up the thawing process and can help with measuring.
Uncooked yolks: Egg yolks alone can turn extremely gelatinous if frozen. For use in savory dishes, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt per four egg yolks. Substitute the salt for sugar for use in sweet dishes and/or desserts.
Cooked eggs: Scrambled eggs are fine to freeze, but it is advised to not freeze cooked egg whites. They become too watery and rubbery if not mixed with the yolk.
Hard-boiled eggs: As mentioned above, it is best to not freeze hard-boiled eggs because cooked whites become watery and rubbery when frozen.
- 1 Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven.
- 2 Place the tomato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Scatter the onion, garlic, and serrano around the tomatoes. Broil until the tomato skins start to blacken and blister, about 7 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a blender, add the measured lime juice and salt, and blend into a smooth purée. Taste and season with additional salt and lime juice as needed.
- 3 Transfer to a small saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
For the chiles rellenos:
- 1 Lay 1 chile on a work surface so that it sits flat naturally without rolling. Using a paring knife, make two cuts forming a “T” by first slicing down the middle of the chile lengthwise from stem to tip, then making a second cut perpendicular to the first about a 1/2 inch from the stem, slicing only halfway through the chile (be careful not to cut off the stem end completely). Carefully open the flaps to expose the interior of the chile and, using the paring knife, carefully cut out and remove the core. Scrape the inside with a small spoon to remove the seeds, ribs, and any remaining core. Repeat with the remaining peppers.
- 2 Turn 2 gas burners to medium-high heat. Place 1 chile directly on each burner and roast, turning occasionally with tongs, until blackened and blistered on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Alternatively, heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven. Place all of the chiles directly on the rack. Broil, turning occasionally with tongs, until the chiles blacken and blister on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. The chiles will be softer using the broiler rather than a direct flame, so be careful not to tear them while stuffing.) Remove to a large heatproof bowl repeat with the remaining 2 chiles.
- 3 Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a baking sheet and let the chiles steam until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Using a butter knife, scrape away and discard the chile skins, being careful not to tear the chiles set the chiles aside.
- 4 Heat the oven to 250°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.
- 5 Season the inside and outside of the chiles with salt and pepper. Stuff each chile, being careful not to tear them, with a quarter of the cheese (about a heaping 2/3 cup) and close the flaps over the cheese set the chiles aside.
- 6 Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until lightened in color and frothy, about 2 minutes set aside.
- 7 Place the egg whites and measured salt in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer, add the egg yolks, and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not deflate the egg whites) set aside.
- 8 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Check to see if the oil is hot by submerging the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick until it touches the bottom of the pan—the oil should bubble vigorously. Working with 1 chile at a time, drop 1/2 cup of the egg batter into the oil and use a rubber spatula to spread it to about the same size as the stuffed chile. Lay the chile seam-side down on top of the mound of batter. Drop another 1/2 cup of batter on top of the chile, spreading it with the rubber spatula to cover the sides and encase the chile. Cook without disturbing until the bottom of the chile relleno is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a flat spatula and a fork, carefully flip the chile relleno over and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. (If the sides of the chile are not brown, use a spatula or tongs to turn it onto each side to brown.) Transfer the chile relleno to the rack set over the baking sheet, season with salt, and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining stuffed chiles.
- 9 To serve, spread 1/3 cup of the roasted tomato salsa on each plate and top with a chile relleno. Serve immediately, passing the remaining salsa on the side.
How to serve Taco Salad
If you’re serving this Dorito Taco Salad at a party or potluck, I recommend tossing all the ingredients together right before serving to prevent it from becoming too soggy.
If you’re making this for yourself or your family and you anticipate having leftovers, I recommend adding the ground beef and Doritos to each individual serving so that the lettuce mixture doesn’t get soggy when you store it in the fridge.
500g [1 lb]`tomatillos
1/4 medium onion
1 clove garlic, in its peel
2 jalapeño or serrano chiles (use more or fewer chiles according to your tolerance for heat—see below)
1-2 stalks of fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Mild, medium or spicy?
As mentioned above, heat levels can vary greatly from chile to chile, and even two similar-sized chiles of the same variety can have notable differences in their levels of heat due to variables in the environmental conditions where they were grown. The Scoville scale was developed to help determine how spicy a chile is and can be used as a general guide to help you estimate the heat level of any given chile. Choose your chiles accordingly. Here is a comparison between the two chiles I normally use in this recipe:
You don't really need a recipe to make this insanely popular Mexican dish. Top a tortilla with cheese (and whatever else you've got), then fold it in half and cook until the tortilla is crispy and the cheese is melty. But if you're looking for some guidance, especially in cooking up some quick and easy chicken to stuff inside, this recipe won't let you down.
Traditionally, corn tortillas are used. But flour tortillas are also popular, especially in the states. And in Mexico, you'll find most quesadillas filled with Oaxaca, a stringy Mexican cheese. It has a mellow, buttery flavor similar to Monterey jack but its texture and meltability more closely resembles mozzarella. For our chicken quesadillas, we use a combination of Monterey jack and cheddar. But you can substitute any melty cheese you prefer. Our biggest piece of advice: Don't worry about cheese spilling onto the pan. Those crispy, verging on burnt bits (aka frico) add an unparalleled salty, fatty crunch.
Serving a crowd? Consider our Sheet Pan Quesadillas. And, if you're craving beef, try our Ultimate Ground Beef Quesadilla.
Have you made this recipe? Let us know how you liked it int he comments below.
Editor's Note: The introduction of this recipe was edited on July 31, 2021 to provide more information.
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Chicken –Chicken breast that’s been cooked. Shred it up for this casserole. Easiest thing to do is buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it up.
- Enchilada sauce –We’re using green enchilada sauce today, so pick up a jar of it the next time you’re at the store.
- Green chiles –We’re using 1 small can of green chiles all chopped up. If you have trouble finding some I’ll include a section detailing substitutes below.
- Cheese –Monterey Jack cheese for a melty ooey gooey texture with a bit of heat.
- Sour cream –This is a rich, tangy, and creamy component of our filling. This can be substituted with Greek yogurt.
- Tomatoes –Chopped up fine to be sprinkled over top, fresh.
- Herbs –Green onion and cilantro all chopped up fine.
Golden tacos filled with chicken (Tacos dorados de pollo) (page 46)
From La Latina La Latina by Grace Ramirez
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- Categories: Sandwiches & burgers Main course Mexican Gluten-free
- Ingredients: chicken pieces peppercorns of your choice garlic bay leaves onions corn tortillas rice bran oil iceberg lettuce cream limes coriander leaves hot sauce tomatoes milk white vinegar
The Ultimate Texas
Your guide to the many types of tacos around the state, where to find them, and how to enjoy them!
B ack in April, as we were grappling with the early stages of the pandemic, I wrote an optimistic ode to what I called “the enduring taco.” Not only did my favorite food offer tortilla-wrapped comfort when we needed it most, but its versatility, economy, and portability made it almost pandemic-proof. “There’s never been a better time to sell tacos,” Andrew Savoie, the chef and co-owner of Dallas’s Resident Taqueria, told me at the time.
What I’ve witnessed this year backs up Savoie’s assertion. Comedor and Suerte, two high-end Austin restaurants, pivoted to selling taco kits after dining rooms were closed across the state. Torchy’s Tacos went ahead with pre-pandemic expansion plans and, since March, has opened nine new restaurants in Texas and three other states. Nationally, food delivery service company DoorDash reported in July that its customers said they missed dining on Mexican food more than any other cuisine during quarantine. With more people making tacos at home, tortilla sales across the country rose a reported 10 percent.
As we’ve all had to do this year, taquerias have adapted and evolved. While the basic framework of tortilla-plus-filling-plus-salsa remains, the taco continues to change in new and exciting ways. Just look at the many types now available across Texas, where the twin forces of tradition and modernization keep things interesting. Tradition is sustained in the rural areas of the state, with their decades-old homey Mexican diners and cafes. In our cities, chef-driven restaurants and freewheeling pop-ups are experimenting, sometimes subtly and other times with abandon. Several of the styles growing in popularity include costras, with tortillas covered in griddled cheese birria de res tacos, filled with slow-cooked beef and served with a side of consommé and Japanese tacos, combining ingredients and methods you might find in Tokyo and Tijuana.
At Texas Monthly, we have long chronicled the changing landscape of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. In our most recent taco cover story, in 2015, the magazine published a hefty compilation of the top 120 tacos in the state. When I came aboard as TM’s first taco editor late last year, I began working on the long-planned follow-up to that list. Then COVID -19 forced life (and our plans) to a head-jerking halt. Since travel became difficult, we needed to revise our strategy.
So we took our cues from the state’s taco chefs and cooks—most of them Latinos, one of the groups hit hardest by the coronavirus—who reimagined and reinvented themselves this year. Instead of a best-of list, we’ve assembled the “Ultimate Texas Tacopedia,” a compilation of the state’s favorite and most exciting taco styles that spells out where to find the best specimens of each dish. You'll also find links here to our “Taco Trails,” featuring dozens of recommended taquerias in six regions of the state, as well as taqueria spotlights, tips on "How to Taco," and more. ¡Buen provecho!