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Chico's-Style Tacos


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.

Yield: 4 servings 
 
3/4 lb. ground beef (80-85% lean) 
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste 
3 large (or 4 small) jalapeños, stems removed 
1/4 c. canned crushed tomatoes 
1/2 tsp. salt 
12 small corn tortillas 
cooking oil
8 oz. finely grated, mild cheddar cheese 
 
 
Combine raw ground beef and 1 c. water in a medium-size pot. Heat nearly to simmering, stirring to break up the meat, and add 3 1/2 c. water. Bring mixture to a simmer, skimming off any film that rises to the surface. Lower heat, add 3/4 tsp. salt and jalapeños, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until jalapeños are soft. Strain mixture, reserving broth in a large pot. Set aside meat-chili mixture to cool. Bring strained broth to a simmer, add tomatoes, and continue simmering for 2-3 minutes. Lower heat, keeping broth warm. When meat-chili mixture has cooled, prepare jalapeño sauce: Remove meat, and set aside. Remove seeds and veins from jalapeños, if desired. Combine chilies, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 3/4 c. water in a blender, and purée; set aside. Unless the tortillas are very fresh (they can be rolled up tightly without cracking or unrolling), you’ll need to soften them. (Fry one at a time in hot oil for 5-10 seconds, or just until softened; drain on paper towels.) Place a heaping tablespoon of cooked meat just off center of each tortilla, roll into tight cylinders, and secure in the middle with a toothpick. Using kitchen tongs, place tacos in 1/2-inch-deep hot oil; fry a few minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown, turning once. Drain well. Place 3 tacos in each of 4 large, shallow soup bowls; ladle some reserved broth over them. Top each bowl with about 1/2 c. of cheese, and serve with jalapeño sauce. 
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