Monday, November 30, 2009

Empanada Express Grill... In Golden?

Golden, CO. I don’t know much about Golden and have certainly never thought of going out to eat there. I went climbing there a few times back in the day when I was younger and less destructible. I remember always getting lost in the twisted maze of suburban back streets, and would often end up in the same place I started without ever having made a turn. That always kind of freaked me out. But that isn’t what kept me away for the last few years, it’s just that, well, it’s Golden. Golden is the place where Coors is made, and I don’t care much for Coors.  Apparently Golden is also "Where the West Lives!", though that argument could be made for at least twenty other Colorado towns.  The School of Mines is there, too, but all I know about that is they painted an “M” on the hill above town; I see it when we drive up into the mountains. I don’t dislike Golden by any means, I just haven’t had any reason to go. Until now.

It’s now. The Google map image is burned into my mind. I am determined not to get lost. I turn off Johnson Rd. and swerve into the traffic circle. Undaunted by this annular anomaly, I veer onto South Golden Rd.  but am thwarted by road work. It is dark. I take the only other option available, but it seems to point into the twisty street labyrinth. Ugh. I look up and check the sign as I pass: East Rd. That’s what I want! I can’t believe it, and though in my excitement I do pass the Dominos that will cue me to our night’s destination, after only a few blocks of wandering, and a simple illegal U-turn, I find my way back.

I park and we round the corner of the strip mall where we do find it. Makeshift banners cover the old neon lettering below, but the red glow of a still burning "China Star" shines right through, making the banners virtually unreadable. I smile at another poorly signed restaurant. I tend to like poorly signed places, and I have a feeling I am going to like it here. Other banners hang over the “for lease” sign outside this newly christened restaurant. Each banner has a different name, giving a brief look into the evolution of the place. "Empanada Express". Or "Empanada Grill". Or "Empanada Express Grill." Or "Empanada Express at Empanada Grill". I smile. I have arrived at the only exclusively Venezuelan restaurant in the entire Front Range and therefore I would safely assume,  the entire state.

Here we are, ""

I say that with confidence not because I have thoroughly researched Venezuelan food in Colorado, but because my new friend told me so. He is a Venezuelan who has spent most of his life here in Colorado. It’s not too often that a place like this surfaces, so even though he was just here the week before, he and his wife were more than happy to meet us and give us a proper Venezuelan food education. 

Empanada Express Grill, as I think it is officially named, serves primarily empanadas and arepas. We all know empanadas, as every country south of our border has a version. Venezuelan empanadas are made from a corn masa and are for the most part deep fried. They are light, flaky and crispy. They are stuffed with good things like shredded beef, black beans, fried plantain and cheese, also know as Pabellon Criollo. That was my favorite of the empanadas that I tried that night, but also good was the Mechada, shredded beef in a savory  tomato sauce. The other close second was filled with Rajas, which are slices of Poblano peppers. 

The Venezuelan arepas are a lot like pupusas from el Salvador: thick, puffy corn masa sliced open and stuffed. Arepas, however, are stuffed after cooking, unlike the pupusas, which are stuffed then fried. I like this because the stuffings stay fresh and it makes a great contrast to the crisp and fluffy masa. The arepas here are also baked instead of fried, which is actually somewhat common in Venezuela. They do, however, brush it with enough oil to keep it crisp and keep it from being too healthy. La Buena is a great option: carnitas with cheese and avocado. So are just about any of the rest I would think. 

While the empanadas and arepas make up most of the menu, there are some side dishes that truly shine on their own. The fried plantains were incredible. There was also some breaded and deep-fried cheese which was, well, like fried cheese sticks, only they were called tequeños. But put some of the Venezuelan spiced mayo on it and they quickly become addictive. The highlight of the starters we had were the Cachapas. Cachapas, besides being a fun word to say, are delicious corn pancakes with tons of sweet, whole kernels topped with melted cheese and butter. (Again, with your health in mind.) Everything was washed down with the way-too-sweet strawberry-flavored soda, Frescolita.  Before placing our order,  I asked my friend what it was, and I knew I wouldn't like it, but the way his eyes lit up with nostalgic excitement made me what to give it a try. It tastes like carbonated bubble-gum. 

Tequeños y Cachapas

Everything about the Empanada Express Grill was great. Our food was fantastic and the co-owner Ramon, who that night was simultaneously acting as server, bus boy, cook and babysitter; was friendly, albeit understandably slow. The lack of haste in our meal was actually refreshing, and although the whole dinner took a little more than two hours, we always had at least one plate to munch on. And what made his patience even more endearing was that we didn't leave until 9 pm, later realizing he closes at 8 pm. There was absolutely no pressure to leave. He even comped us a dessert that I ordered after we said we were done, interrupting him while he painstakingly calculated our bill by hand (his kid was busy on the computer). I'm glad I asked for that flan, because it was the best flan I have ever had in my life. It was covered in toasted coconut and it was absolutely divine. I am only a little upset that, having eaten more than my share of flan over the years, that this was the first time I've had coconut flan.

So I learned a lot about Venezuelan food that night. I also learned that Golden has food good enough that I don't mind driving there just to eat it. I'll never not think of Golden the same again.

And back to the name. To be truely descriptive, they would likely need to take out the "express" part. So kick back and relax. The kid running the counter sure doesn't care if you're in a hurry so don't expect too much, except good food and friendly people in a cozy environment. In Golden. Enjoy. Besides, you didn't drive all the way out here because you were in a hurry.

Empanada Express Grill is located on the corner of 24th and Ford St in Golden, but don't get that confused with the actual address of 2600 East Ave, or that Ford St is really South Golden Rd. And whatever you do, don't get lost in the twisty streets. As there is no readable sign as of yet, look for the Dominos, and go around the corner to the left. 
Empanada Express on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gastro Cart: A Really Good Idea

Gastro Cart is the new culinary adventure of former Table 6 cooks, Mike Winston and Bryan Hume. The vision is simple: to make original hand-crafted food and sell it on the street. The food is not simple, however, and therein lies the genius of this otherwise unassuming food cart on the corner of 18th and Curtis.

Bryan and Mike with their good idea

I don’t know how else to say this, except that, "This is a really fucking good idea." Maybe it’s just my bias, being a long-time fan of buying and consuming food on the street. I like food that fits in my hand and that can be shoved in my mouth with minimal need for utensils. Food that may take many napkins to wipe clean from my body, but where those napkins are decidedly not cloth. Food that comes wrapped in tin foil or that is served in one of those small, red-checked cardboard trays. Food that is satisfying. Gastro Cart, in its early weeks of existence, has been all of that.

And back to the genius part: it is entirely original, hand-crafted and fresh-made. And among the inspired items that made it to the first Gastro Cart menu include a gyro. The gyro description is as follows: roast lamb on naan with a guajillo-mint foam, Napa cabbage and taziki. I have to say, that while excited by the very idea of this cart, I was a little skeptical about taking a classic like the gyro and flipping it around so much. All too often places try and make a simple, traditional and delicious dish into something new, and end up with a neo-post-modern mess. But I had faith, and it was the first thing I tried.

That looks nothing like a gyro...

The meat was shredded instead of shaved. The naan was essentially a pita, albeit a really good, fresh and clearly home-baked pita. The guajillo-mint deal was fortunately foam-less by the time it made it to my plate and was just pretty much a sauce. It was very good too, and sort of captured the chopped tomato part of the gyro but also with a slight, smoky kick; and the mint played in perfectly with the taziki. The lamb was cooked amazingly well. It was butter soft and rich with flavor. And the bread was warm and delicious. It was a really good sandwich. It actually was a really good, uh, gyro. Well done.

1/4 of the gyro

Well, ¾ of the way through the gyro I was pretty much full, but I needed to try the taco with kim chee, its description being the siren song that made me rush across town over lunch as soon as possible. In Aurora, where I work, there may be more kim chee (I say kimchi) per capita than in any other part of the metro area, but nowhere can you find something as crazy as a kim chee taco. With all the Mexican and Korean places in Aurora, you might think it would have happened by accident already, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t. So for a half-breed Asian-American like me who loves tacos more than his Mexican wife (I mean more than she likes tacos—not more than her), a kim chee taco is a wildly chaotic experiment in culinary fusion that I would never want to miss.

It tasted pretty much how one might expect a kim chee taco to taste--like kim chee. It also had 1000 Island dressing on it and apparently is Gastro Cart's twisted take on a Reuben. I didn’t think of Reuben when I ate it. I actually didn’t know (and still don't know) what to think about it. But it worked. It actually worked really well. The chicken flavor was good, and not overwhelmed completely by the kim chee, which was the star; and the 1000 Island dressing gave it a nice creamy texture that for some reason pulled everything together (like I said, I'm still trying to figure it out). Another bonus is that in a couple more months the kim chee will be house-made. Impressive.

As we enter the winter months and Gastro Cart is in its infancy, the young duo is determined to get out everyday. As I talked with them one midweek afternoon, we discussed their future as street food purveyors and a slow crescendo of excitement built between them as they speculated on the months and years to come.

"We have a ton of lamb stock."

"Yeah, I’d like to do a consommé."

"Sure, we could have to-go containers."

"And put up a wall here for the cold," motioning around the side of the cart, and they continued their back-and-forth about future dishes and construction.

Whatever it ends up being, I have a feeling it will be well-thought out and executed. And fresh. Currently the only things they don’t make from scratch are the tortillas. I don’t know why (tortillas are pretty easy to make), especially considering they make their own ketchup. That’s right, at Gastro Cart, that is homemade ketchup in your 1000 Island dressing. And delicious homemade pickles, served whole, as well as chopped up in the quinoa salad. Which brings me to another point. I pretty much hate quinoa, and I think that non-Peruvians that say it’s good are generally lying. But these guys seem to genuinely like it, and I will admit, that the quinoa salad at Gastro Cart was OK, though I think it’s mostly because of the homemade pickles. What I really love are those pickles.

And what else does the future hold?

"We’d like to get a roach coach."

"Yeah, to have a deep fryer." And you could see them both have a little daydream moment about the world a deep fryer would open up.

"And a few other carts."

I can see it now. A food-cart revolution. Most good food cultures have solid roots in the street, and Gastro Cart's Mike Winston and Bryan Hume are going in reverse to bring restaurant craft and execution onto the street. Like I said, it's genius.

18th and Curtis.
Or on Facebook.
Sun night on 
Colfax and 
Gastro Cart on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Scott Parker's Chicken Skins 'n' Such

If you have ever read this blog before, then it's obvious that I love pork. Also no secret is my passion for pork skin. In fact, now that I'm on the topic, I love the skin of other animals equally as well. Especially chickens. There is something really satisfying about biting into crisp, fresh-roasted chicken skin. And of course, it goes without saying, that fried chicken skin is one of food's finest indulgences. And as much as I love these things, I have a friend, Michael, who takes it to another level. Where that level is on the spectrum of enjoyment to unhealthy obsession is not exactly clear, but one thing is for certain: Michael is not healthy. In fact, we used to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet Sunday brunch at a Southern food restaurant (unfortunately, not in Denver), and my friend, Michael, would, with no sign of shame or remorse, pile his plate full of fried-chicken and proceed to eat nothing but the skins. Suffice to say that the rest of us felt some amount of shame to make up for his shamelessness, and the pleasure-filled sounds (moans) he made while eating, caused us to turn away in some degree of embarrassment. Yet, despite that, I have rarely seen a man get so much pleasure out of food, and I will always take something good away from that amazing display of gluttony.

What's more, ever since that day, Michael has had a dream of opening a restaurant that served up this sort of pleasure.  The name was conceived later that evening over drinks: "Big Fat Mike's Chicken Skins 'n' Such". And that about sums it up; "such", being, of course, any other food pleasure that makes you happy. Now, Michael has no business opening a restaurant, and he certainly never will, but if he did, he would do right to hire chef Scott Parker of Table 6 as his chef.

I ended up eating Scott Parker's brilliant food at Table 6 the other night through invitation by the lovely Sam Adams brewing company, who were promoting their Barrel Room Collection (which gladly will be released semi-exclusively in Denver any day now). But back to the chicken skin. Really, I don't know if Chef Parker would like to cook in my friend's fantasy restaurant, or if he would enjoy cooking whatever "such" turned out to be, but one dish he created that night indicates to me that he just might. The "such" in this case were sweetbreads. Sweetbreads wrapped in chicken skin and deep-fried. Served over a bed of pumpkin-rissoto. I think. I could have gotten that last part wrong, because Mr. Parker had me at, "sweetbreads wrapped in chicken skin", and after he spoke those words, I was immediately lost in a Homer-esque daydream sequence where little animal entrails were flying around over a deep-fryer with wings made of chicken skin.

It tasted as good as it sounds (that is, if it sounds good to you). If it doesn't sound good to you, or if the though of sweetbreads makes you a little queasy, or if you are someone that takes the skin off of chicken, let me say that there were a couple skeptical "foodies" (I use that term begrudgingly and skeptically--hence the " ") at my table who enjoyed it enough to clean their plates. And not only was this ingenious invention of chicken skin and such delicious on it's own, but it made the Sam Adams' Old Fezziwig beer, a standout by itslef, even better.

What it comes down to is that Scott Parker and his crew know how to cook--and have a fun, free, fresh approach to food. The rest of the menu that night was equally as good, and each of the five dishes paired extremely well with the corresponding beer. It was fun to experience the inspiration of a chef and his kitchen as I did with this five-course masterpiece. Two other highlights were a pork belly confit and a pastrami roasted rib eye. The pork belly was succulent and served in a white pear soup; the balance of sweet and savory perfect, and the dish as refreshing as it was succulent. The rib eye, was, as another table-mate put it, a dish, "that I will never forget." The meat was perfectly rare and the traditional horseradish mashed potatoes and onion jus were just right alongside the bold, yet familiar, pastrami crust.

The rest of the menu that night was just as impressive. And for our final course, we had a dessert that came straight off the regular menu (albeit with a little Imperial stout thrown in for good measure). A chocolate "frosty", like you used to get at Wendys--but slightly (a lot-- about 800x according to our server) better-- complete with delicious, crisp french fries, meant, of course, to dip in the shake before eating.

I have since been back to Table 6 with my wife, and among all the pleasure-filled plates we enjoyed that evening, I was especially taken with the chicken liver mousse. (If you remember, I got a little carried away with a chicken liver mousse in Toronto's La Cava). Now back in Denver and grounded firmly in that experience, I very casually ordered and ate the chicken liver mousse at Table 6, which is blended with hazelnuts and topped with a caramelized onion jam-type spread. The mousse by itself was a beautiful thing, and though now I won't go into dirty details of how good it was, let's just say that I would brush my teeth with this mousse, too. And the surprise signature touch that still has me smiling were little pieces of fried chicken skins alongside the toasted bread.

It's not just the liberal use of chicken skin that will keep me coming back to Table 6 again and again. Everything I had was well conceived, well executed and delicious. Another thing that impressed me was the service, quality and care that I had during the private media tasting menu (where you expect a restaraunt to be at it's best), was just as good when my wife and I strolled in at the end of service late on a Saturday night. There is a sense of comfort and welcoming that is soul warming. Owner Aaron Foreman and chef Scott Parker have created something special. The fact that these were my first times eating at Table 6 is more a testament to my lameness and ignorance rather than anything having to do with this fine eating establishment. Table 6 is a gem in a city full of great dining, and let's all hope Aaron and Scott stay here for a long time to come.

Visit Table 6 at 609 Corona St.
(303) 831-8800

Table 6 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Denver al Pastor Take 3: Tacos Junior

It's been about a month now since I've written about tacos al pastor. It's not that I haven't been eating them, but I get stuck in a rut--albeit a very delicious rut--of going to the same two or three places because I know what to expect. One reason for starting this blog was to force myself to break out of that mold and start exploring some other places.

Tacos Junior is one of those places. Of Tacos Junior's several Denver metro locations, one is inside the Azteca Ranch Market on East Colfax at Moline in Aurora. I actually used to do a fair amount of shopping at Azteca, an adorably chaotic small Mexican grocery store that carries decent produce, has excellent butchers and of course, sates my Mexican wife's nostalgic cravings-- from fresh nopales to the South-of-the-border version of a Twinkie. So because of this, I've passed by Tacos Junior dozens of times, but always with a cart full of groceries and excuses; and even though their spit of pastor is larger than life, I never once stopped in.

This doesn't do it justice. It may be 3ft tall.

If you know me, or if you've read this blog a few times (I feel like I know you), you may think that this sounds crazy. What one would expect me to do upon seeing a spit of pastor this big would be to drop my groceries, leave my poor wife to sweep up the broken jars and load the car, and push my way to the front of the line. But I never did. In fact one time I actually drove two miles West down Colfax to Taco Mex to get my pastor after leaving Azteca because I was craving it so badly. Habits are a bitch, and as they say, die hard.

But it wasn't just me being set in my ways. I heard once that it was a large chain restaurant (I kinda hate those) from California or Texas or Northern Mexico (I'm pretty sure it's just a local chain), and the decor seemed kitsch and forced for my taste. The ceiling, for example, is painted with clouds and parrots, the taco counter is framed by a faux-eave that resemble a beach hut, and Jesus floats on the wall behind the cashier on a mural of a beach/ farm scene (maybe to keep an eye on the register). Whatever the reason, my taco instinct said, "no".

Jesus vacations in Tacos Junior.

So what brought me here after all these years? Just to find out what it was all about, I guess. And it is a oft-praised and popular (I mostly hate that too) taco stop. Plus, did I mention, the al pastor spit they have is incredibly huge? If nothing else it is likely the largest and most well-manicured spit of pastor around, and I have to respect that.

From big spits come big tacos. There is a lot of meat in the tacos al pastor here. And they come con copia, that is, with two tortillas, which are hand made, but nevertheless dry. The slices of pineapple are fresh, too, always a bonus in any Northern territory. The standard diced onions and cilantro top it off. The taste? It was good. I mean, it's pastor--but it wasn't great. It certainly isn't the best I've had in Denver. The first time I went the meat was not charred well if it was charred at all, and the beauty of proper pastor meat is that the slices are thin and tender, but also slightly charred. There should be a crispy, smoky first bite followed by tender sweetness with a spicy finish. This meat was way too sweet (in a bad way).

It looks like pastor...

A couple weeks later, I had second thoughts. I mean, that pastor spit was so beautiful it haunted me in my sleep. It is expertly cared for, and it is obvious that someone openly and without shame loves that over-sweetened hunk of marinated pork. Again, I respect that. So there I was standing in line and this time something I previously overlooked caught my eye: Taco Arabe. The Arabian Taco, an homage to the people who likely inspired the taco al pastor-- the Lebanese, is a specialty of Puebla. The Taco Arabe is a bunch of pastor rolled up with grilled onions and cilantro in a very thin flour tortilla, also known as pan arabe, (possibly an homage to the pita?). It even comes wrapped in that thin gyro-tissue-paper. I unrolled my mini burrito-gyro-looking thing and was happy to see that this time the pastor was sliced thinner and charred perfectly. I added some red salsa, rolled it back up and took a bite. These thin tortillas were better than the dry corn ones, and the taco Arabe was better than the standard taco, but still, even cooked properly, the pastor is too sweet.

Taco arabe, tacos de carnitas, sopes

My taco-sense (sort of like spidey-sense, but more delicious) was right about the pastor, but there are plenty of good things here. I highly recommend the deep-fried things: sopes, huaraches and picaditas-- all different versions of thick tortilla masa fried to a crisp. The sope is stacked tall with beans, meat, cheese, avocado and the works; the huarache is usually meat, beans and cheese only; and the picaditas are simply red or green salsa topped with fresh cheese. The salsas are fresh and spicy but the green has too much onion. The best meats are the carnitas and, suprisingly, the chicken, which is shredded in a chipotle sauce. The asada (steak) is good, but needed a lot of salt, which any God-fearing Mexican sprinkles on any taco regardless, so I guess it works out. Wash it all down with 32 oz of made-to-order fresh fruit or vegtable agua fresca of your choosing--everything from mango to cucumber.


Tacos Junior has all kinds of good stuff, and is worth a visit, but if you are in the mood for an authentic al pastor experience, keep driving. 11505 E Colfax Ave in Aurora. There's parking in the back, too.
Tacos Junior on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Enchiladas Mineras: A How to Guide

You can’t find Enchiladas Mineras in Denver as far as I know.  If you've had them before, you will realize what a shame this is. If you've never had them, you'll want to try them. Not to worry, I just got back from Mexico and now I know how to make them. Welcome to another recipe post.

Enchiladas Mineras are synonmous with Guanajuato, Mexico. The dish itself is made up of simple ingredients-- tortillas, cheese, carrots, potatoes-- yet has an intricate blend of flavors and spices brought together by the smooth guajillo chile sauce. Enchiladas Mineras literally means miner's enchiladadas, and Guanajuato was once the silver-mining capital of Mexico. It has since become a cultural mecca and is an important historical city. From the top of the hill is an impressive view overlooking the town, which occupies the lowest points of the valley floor. It is surrounded on every side by house on top of colorful house, and the entire span of the city is visible. This afternoon, even from these heights, we could see the ruckus of a festival known as the Cervantino, which draws people form all over the world to celebrate music, theater and the arts.

The Cervantino festival is not exactly what brought us here, but is a destination in itslef for people slightly more cultured than myslef. There are established events set up in every corner of the city, but it also pretty much turns into a street party at night (which about matches my level of culture), complete with roving musicians toting wine skins parading through the twisted mass of cobblestoned streets, alleyways and hidden squares;  sometimes with hundreds of inebriated followers singing along behind them.

Our evening started with a search for food. My wife and her family guided me down the hill into town, through the madness of the street fair, and into the madness of the local market. Here was the night's singular moment of quiet. The market was still and almost empty --until they saw us coming--then from every angle, simultaneously, each food stall owner began hollering out her respective offerings, banging on her respective counters, pots and pans. Some cries came from a balcony on the second level, some were just several feet away, all were equally loud and all were making their best pitch for us to enter. We sat down at a stall, the yelling stopped and the women went back to work cutting, frying and cooking away. Then my mother-in-law decided another stall looked better. We stood up, and sensing our doubt, the cries started again. We pondered the other stall, then settled in to the original one we picked anyway. The screaming stopped as suddenly as it started.On and off like a switch. Good stuff.

I ordered, of course, Enchiladas Mineras. I watched intently every step of the process as our stall owner expertly doused a pan with copious amounts of oil and fried away a guajillo salsa-soaked tortilla, some potatoes and carrots. She plated it with a roast chicken thigh and sprinkled on a cotija-like cheese, onions and lettuce. It was incredible, and eating in a market like this always gives food a homemade quality that can’t be found in a restaurant. Being a miner would suck a lot less if you got to open up your lunch pail every day and eat this.

And that, in a long-winded and roundabout way, brings me to the point of this entry: after some market research (ha ha) and a consultation with my wife’s Aunt, I put together a recipe that I tried the other night, and if I do say so myself, was quite authentic and delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
4-5 medium potatoes (I used a bunch of fingerlings because that is what I had)
4-5 carrots
8 dried chiles guajillos, stemmed and seeded
2 dried chiles anchos, stemmed and seeded
1 white onion
2 cloves of garlic
8-10 Corn tortillas
1 package of Cotija cheese
1 tsp oregano
Cayeanne to taste
Salt to taste
Copious amounts of Canola (or some such) oil

First I put some water on to boil in a large pot, chopped the carrots and potatoes into small chunks, and added them to the boiling water. I also put on a kettle of water to boil and stemmed and seeded the chiles. I roasted the chiles on a cast-iron skillet till they bubbled but didn’t burn, on each side, pressing down with a spatula to get good coverage. I put them in a bowl and covered them with boiling water from the kettle, about 2 cups, then the bowl and let sit 20 minutes. In the meantime, I cut about a ½ inch-thick slice of onion, peeled 2 garlic cloves and added them both to a blender with the oregano, a dash of cayenne and a pinch of salt. For the garnish, I crumbled about half of the Cotija cheese and finely diced another slice of onion.

By now the potatoes and carrots were soft, but not fall-apart soft, and the chiles had soaked long enough. I drained the vegetables, put them aside and added the chiles and the water to the blender. I blended the chiles, onion slice, garlic and spices in the blender until it was completely pureed. Then I strained it through a fine-meshed strainer, pushing every last bit of liquid through with a spatula. I put a little more salt in for taste.

I heated up the skillet with (as I witnessed) copious amounts of oil—it about covered the entire skillet. Then I added a couple large spoonfuls of carrots and potatoes and smiled to myself at the sound of food frying in oil. I spooned some sauce over it and also added shredded chicken into it because I had some leftover in the fridge. Then I pushed them off to one side, dipped a tortilla into the salsa until it was soaked and tossed it in the pan. I added some cotija cheese in and folded it over. I put in 2 more tortillas like it then added more salsa over everything. When the tortillas were browed a little and very soft, and the vegetables were starting to crisp, it was done. I plated the tortillas first, covered them with the vegtables and chicken, and sprinkled diced onions and cotija cheese over everything.

It was delicious. Maybe not as good as the market lady’s, but very close. If I planned it out better I would have roasted chicken as well, which I think the market-lady basted with the same guajillo sauce. Actually, the shredded chicken wasn’t even necessary. The real flavor comes from the sweetness of the carrots and the guajillos; the saltiness of the cotija with the fresh bite of the onion; and the startchy potatoes to soak everything else up. Give it a try. It’s pretty easy and damn good.


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