Sunday, October 21, 2012

Crispy Fried Chili Cheese Tacos

Mmmm... Chili Cheese Tacos

If you've visited this blog before, you might have noticed my affinity for Mexican food. Although I love, love, love authentic Mexican food, I also love some fast food Mexican. I don't even know if you can call Jack in the Box tacos Mexican at all, but I love them. I grew up eating those greasy yummies on a regular basis. If you've never had one, imagine a corn tortilla folded in half with a seasoned meat paste in the center, with a one-inch perimeter of crisp fried shell. That fried taco is opened and they insert a triangular piece of American cheese, lettuce, and taco sauce. The taco is slipped into a little white bag and you gradually slip the taco out of the bag as you eat it. You either love Jack in the Box tacos or you think they're disgusting. Clearly, I'm in the "love them" category.
The other day, I had made some chili for chili baked potatoes, and I had some leftover chili. I also had some leftover small corn tortillas (available mostly at Mexican markets), so I decided to try frying up some chili cheese tacos Jack in the Box style. I've never attempted this before, so I wasn't sure if it would work. I only made like 6 of them because I knew if they succeeded, I probably shouldn't eat more than a few.
They did succeed and my husband and I both enjoyed them. I thought about making some more, but decided to settle for what I'd made lest I make myself sick. After I let them cool a little, so as not to melt the interior of my mouth, I was pleasantly surprised at how well contained the filling was. The three flavors of the crisp corn tortilla, the yummy chili, and Tillamook cheddar cheese were exactly what I was going for. DElish.
This is one of those experimental recipes that turned out super tasty. I don't know if I should ever make these tacos again, because they seem so greasy and decadent, but the next time I have left over chili, I think I will be making these.

Crispy Fried Chili Cheese Tacos

  • 1 cup cold chili (must be cold)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 12-14 small (or about 8 regular sized) fresh corn tortillas
  • canola oil
  • sour cream, guacamole, or salsa for dipping, if desired
Heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan. When hot, use tongs to put in one tortilla at a time. Oil should bubble up when tortilla is added. Flip tortilla immediately and them remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking fried tortillas onto each other. Remove pan from heat while you assemble the tacos.
Once tortillas are cool enough to handle, flip your pile of tortillas over to start with the first one you fried. Take about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of chili and place in the center of the tortilla. Add 1/2 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Carefully fold in half and secure about 1/4-inch from the edge with three toothpicks (preferably flat ones). Repeat with remaining tortillas.
(If you're using the regular sized tortillas, you can put probably 3 tablespoons of chili and 1 tablespoon or so of cheese in each one. I'm guessing here, since I haven't tried it yet.)
Return pan to heat and bring up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place as many tacos into the pan as will fit with about 1/2-inch between tacos. Fry on each side about 1 minute, or until crisp on the edges. If the filling starts oozing out, you'll have to do your own trouble shooting, like putting a splatter screen over your pan or taking them out early if you're afraid they'll burst and burn you. (Frying can be dangerous, so be very cautious.)
Once tacos are crisp, remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before attempting to eat, and when you do, proceed with caution.
Serve with sour cream guacamole, or salsa, if that's what you enjoy with chili and/or tacos. Me, I like them plain.
Makes about 12-14 small tacos or 8 regular sized tacos.

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