Cinco De Mayo: Italian Beef Tacos On Poblano Tortillas Topped With Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Red Onions
I personally consider tacos the world’s most perfect food. There really in no wrong way to make a taco. Crunchy or soft, flour or corn, they are all good in my book. As for proteins, tacos are a great way to use up leftover chicken or roast, skirt steak i(one of my favorites), or of course you could simply use ground beef. You could always go vegetarian with refried beans or soy based immitation meats. When it comes to toppings the sky is the limit. Salsas of every flavor and color are classic, slaws are an excellent addition, and I love pickled vegetables of almost any type.
The way the ingredients come together is nothing short of magical. Tacos are one of the world’s best hand-held complete meals.
With Cinco de Mayo being this week, Rachel and I decided to do a taco challenge. But I couldn’t just make tacos, I needed to take it up a notch. I needed to make my own tortillas, but I couldn’t just make boring tortillas. To put my own spin on tortillas I added roasted poblano peppers to the tortilla dough. Poblano gives the tortillas a little bit of fruity heat and a green tint.
For my protein I went with a Chicago classic, Italian beef. This humble dish uses cheaper cuts of beef with a heavy dose of spices and herbs to create flavor. You also slice it thin to create a softer texture.
Finally I topped my tacos with a spicy green tomatillo salsa and pickled red onions to add some freshness and brightness. I have included a recipe for each part of my taco, but as far as final construction just layer all the ingredients as you see fit.
Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s taco post: Cino de Mayo: Tostitos Tacos
Recipe: Poblano Corn Tortillas
Sure you could buy tortillas at the store, but they are pretty easy to make. By adding in roasted poblano peppers you get a little more flavor than a regular tortilla. Poblanos have a nice fruity flavor with just a touch of heat.
- 2 Cups Massa (AKA Corn Flour)
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 4 Large Poblano Peppers
- Tortillas Press (Or a rolling pin if you must)
- Cast Iron Skillet or Heavy Frying Pan
- Food Processor or Blender
- 2 Pieces Wax or Parchment Paper
Set your oven to 400°F. Place the poblano peppers on a lined baking sheet. Roast until they start to blister, turning to make sure they cook evenly on both sides.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the stem, seeds, and skin. The skin should come off easily by scraping with a knife. Add the poblanos to the food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Add the massa, blended poblano, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the water, adding a little at a time, until the mixture is the texture of play dough.
Roll the dough into balls a little larger than a golf ball. Place the balls one at a time between two pieces of parchment or wax paper and press the ball in to a flat disc using a tortilla press or a rolling pin.
Place the skillet over high heat and cook the tortillas on each side until they start to brown.
Recipe: Italian Beef
A Chicago classic thought to have been originated by Italian immigrants who brought home tougher cuts of beef which they then cooked slowly with herbs and spices, cooled, and sliced thin to make sure there was enough to go around. You can place the meat on your favorite roll or even in a taco, although a soft Italian roll is traditional.
- 2 lbs Roast Beef From the Chuck/Shoulder A Scotch or French roast works nicely
- 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 4 Cups Beef Stock Homemade would be best but store bought will work in a pinch
- 6 Cloves Garlic Peeled and Smashed
- 1 Large Red Onion Sliced thin
- 1 Large Green Bell Pepper Sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
- 1 Large Red Bell Pepper
- 1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes Optional
- Salt and Pepper To taste
- 2 tsp Dried Oregano
- 2 tsp Dried Thyme
- 2 tsp Dried Parsley
- 2 tsp Dried Rosemary
- 2 tsp Dried Basil
- 2 tsp Dried Marjoram
- Large heavy pot of Dutch oven
Add all the ingredients to the pot. Preheat the oven to 350°F and roast until tender but not mushy. Remove the meat from the liquid, but save the liquid for later. Allow the meat to cool for 30 minutes and slice thinly.
Put the slices back in the liquid in the pot and put on the stove over medium heat. Cook until the meat is hot again. Serve on a soft Italian bun dipped back in the cooking liquid.
Recipe: Pickled Red Onion
This is a quick recipe when you need a topping to add some acidity to a dish. It goes well on tacos, hot dogs, hamburgers, and can even be used in a salad.
- 2 Large Red Onions Sliced Thin
- 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Pickling Spice You can get this from the store, or come up with your own blend.
Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cool and use to top tacos, burgers, or hot dogs.
Recipe: Tomatillo Salso
Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes with a husk on them, but they have a much firmer texture. This salsa depends on them for body and jalapenos for some heat. If you don't like it spicy you can use bell peppers instead of the jalapenos.
- 6 Large Tomatillos Stems and husk removed
- 1 Large Onion
- 2 Jalapenos (Or bell peppers if you don't like it spicy) Stems and seeds removed
- 6 Cloves Garlic
- Blender or Food Processor
- Parchment paper lined backing sheet
Place all the ingredients on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and roast at 400°F until the vegetables start to brown.
Blend until desired texture is achieved.
If you like this recipe, you should check out our tamale recipes as well: A Tale of Two Tamales: A Lesson in Leftovers and Spicy Salmon Tamales