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Written by Texas Highways

Makes 8 tortillas

The idea here is pretty simple. You melt pork fat without browning it, then strain it to remove the bits of meat, called cracklins. Many people melt lard on the stove, but the cracklins tend to sizzle and spit, causing nasty burns. The slow oven method is safer and easier. Cracklins are delicious in a taco or a salad. Ask your butcher for pork fat for rendering lard; it should be nearly meatless.

Most versions of this popular entree involve Ro-Tel tomatoes and canned soup. So what if it’s not exactly gourmet fare? It’s beloved nonetheless. FYI, no one knows where the name originated, but the dish didn’t come from the King Ranch. The famed South Texas spread is known instead for its beef and game dishes.

In both Mexico and the United States, tacos al carbón are made with different cuts of meat, poultry, and fish, but in Texas, they're usually made with fajitas (skirt steak), along with some or all of the accompaniments listed.

Photo by J. Griffis Smith

The filling for these tacos resembles a chili-flavored beef stew. This recipe calls for flour tortillas, which you can buy commercially. 


Fresh fish can be used in this recipe, but commercially available frozen fish is so appropriate that using fresh is hardly worth the effort. (Gorton’s Tenders in Original Batter is a good choice.)

For maximum taste per bite, layer the ground beef, guacamole, beans, and cheese side-ways rather than vertically. Note also that the shells should be just crisp enough to hold their shape, but still pliable. If they are too crisp, they will be difficult to fill and will break with the first bite.

Chico’s Tacos didn’t provide this recipe, but it’s close enough to the original that a transplanted El Pasoan has declared it a cure for the withdrawal symptoms she experienced after moving to Colorado.

You’ll need a tortilla press to make the shells for these unusual tacos. A large metal spatula is also helpful. Be sure the oil is at the proper temperature. Note: It takes practice to form the V-shaped shells without breaking them; puffy tostadas are an alternative.

These enchiladas work particularly well served on individual plates and cooked in a microwave. Cook each plate of 3 enchiladas on medium for about 2 minutes, or until heated thoroughly.

Adapted from a dish served at El Café de Tacuba in Mexico City, these enchiladas have a French influence and are similar to enchiladas suizas.

Preparing the Red Chili Sauce takes some time, but the results are worth it!

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