Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Broiled Chipotle-Garlic Shrimp

Tacos, like summertime pasta sauces in my house, come in a wide variety of types based on whatever ingredients may be on hand. We're so used to making impromptu fresh tacos in my home that it's become an improvisational process.

Predictably, that improvisational process over time begins to bring some constants to light. These are ingredients and factors that seem to be present in all of our best taco recipes. So, in the interest of helping you to create better tacos at home, I thought it important to share them with you here.

It should go without saying when preparing food at home in general, but you have to start with the freshest, quality ingredients. Nothing will increase the quality and the flavor of not only tacos but all your home cooked food like fresh quality ingredients.

Nowhere in your taco will this be more apparent than in the salsa you use. DO NOT EVER use salsa from a jar. Salsa is easy-to-make and there is no substitute for fresh salsa - NONE. It's the same with guacamole. Make them both fresh and give them some fridge time to chill down a little bit. The crisp coolness of the fresh salsa and guacamole add a nice contrast to the cooked components.

This one will bum you out if you're pressed for time (understandable) or lazy (unforgivable) but: make fresh tortillas. All it takes is a bag of Maseca, a little water, a little salt, an inexpensive tortilla press and a few minutes on a griddle and your tacos are already going to be better than almost any restaurant, almost anywhere in the country. Fresh tortillas have a flavor that cannot be found in those funky things in plastic bags at the grocer. If you really can't or don't want to make your own, see if you can buy fresh ones from a local commercial tortilla maker. You'll be glad you did.

Finally, you're going to want to keep those tortillas hot and flexible and nothing in my experience seems to do that better than La Tortilla Oven. We get lots of free products at Chop Onions and Boil Water to try and review and I'm always honest. I bought La Tortilla Oven with my own money and used it for a long time before I ever reviewed it. It's the real deal. It keeps the tortillas HOT. Alternatively, you can heat them as you need them. We'll do that on occasion if we have the time.

The recipe below is the first of a few taco recipes I'll be posting on Chop Onions, Boil Water. You'll see that it calls for fresh salsa, fresh guacamole and "white sauce". Don't skip the white sauce. Sure, mayonnaise and plain yogurt might seem an odd mix, but it's one of those things that transcends the simplicity of it's ingredients. Lots of people who love Rubio's fish tacos swear by it and it sure has become a staple in our Mexican seafood preparations! It always surprises the people who try it. Muey bueno! Si?

You'll also notice I call for 2 to 4 cloves of garlic. If you're right in your mind about food, use 4. If you're British, use 2.

Broiled Chipotle Garlic-Shrimp Tacos
Prepare the following before you begin making the tacos:

White Sauce: Mix together a 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Refrigerate until use.

Fresh Tomato Salsa (click here for recipe)

Chunky-style Guacamole (click here for recipe)

Broiled Chipotle Garlic-Shrimp Tacos:

12 corn tortillas
1 7 oz. can of chipotles in adobo
1 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2-4 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
1 Tbs of peanut oil
1/2 Tbs sweet butter
3 Tbs fresh cilantro (chopped)
1-2 tsp Fresh lime juice (to taste)
Quesa fresco or your favorite Mexican cheese blend.

Be a trooper and get yourself a tortilla press and some Maseca and make your own tortillas, or buy them and microwave them in a "La Tortilla Oven" to keep them warm.

Set your oven to broil.

Place a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and add the peanut oil. Add the sweet butter, when it fully melts add the garlic and continue cooking for a while until the garlic softens but does not brown. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Keep warm.

Empty the can of chipotles in adobo into a food processor or mixer and blend until it is a smooth paste.

Take the shrimp and coat it well with 2-3 tablespoons of the chipotle paste. If you need less or more that is fine. If you like it spicier, add as much as you like. You're the taco king here. When finished, thread the shrimp onto dual skewers (this makes for easy turning in the oven).

Place the shrimp skewers on an oiled broiling pan and broil, turning often until done.

Remove from the oven and slide the shrimp off the skewers and into a bowl. Coat and toss with the garlic and oil mixture, sprinkle with lime juice to taste and then garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Serve immediately with hot tortillas and the white sauce, salsa, guacamole and cheese available as toppings.

Don't forget the cold beer!

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