Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2. Garlic-Ancho Mushroom Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Garlic Ancho Mushroom Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa Collage

All right, so . . . here we are.  This is taco recipe number two.  I decided to come up with something vegetarian tonight.  Since I seem to be catapulting myself into a new world of taco eclecticism, I thought that I should maintain some variety.  There's more to life than ground beef and cheese, right?  With that in mind, I made some tasty mushroom tacos.  Here's the recipe:

Garlic-Ancho Mushroom Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Makes 8 generous tacos (4 servings)

Ancho Chiles and Garlic for Mushroom Tacos


For the garlic-ancho mushroom filling:

2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, larger mushrooms halved or quartered
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. dried Mexican oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste

For the corn and avocado salsa:

2 medium ears of corn, shucked
1 large avocado, diced 
½ cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Corn tortillas (The number will vary, depending on how thick they are, whether you double them up and how much filling you prefer.  I bought a pack of 18.)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced with large stems discarded (It should look a bit like shredded lettuce.)

Sliced Spinach Leaves for Mushroom Tacos

2-3 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled, about ½ cup

1.  Place the chiles in a 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup or similar type of dish.  Cover with boiling water.  Place something (such as a smaller dish) on top of the chiles to weight them down and keep them submerged in the water.  Set aside for 20-30 minutes to soften.  

2.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs.  Heat 1/2 tbsp. of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the corn kernels and cook them for about 3 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

3.  Make the salsa:  place the avocado, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, remaining 1/2 tbsp. of oil, and lime juice in a medium bowl.  When the corn has cooled, add it to the bowl and gently combine the ingredients.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Cover and set aside.  You can refrigerate if you wish, but I prefer the salsa to be at room temperature.

Corn and Avocado Salsa for Mushroom Tacos

4.  Drain and reserve the soaking liquid from the chiles.  In the glass measuring cup, place the softened chiles, the cream, and 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.  Blend with a hand blender until smooth.  If no hand blender is available, use a food processor or conventional blender.  Set aside.  Reserve the rest of the soaking liquid in case you want to add it to the mushrooms later.

5.  In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil over low heat.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple of  minutes until fragrant.  Add the mushrooms and the salt.

Garlic and Ancho Mushroom Filling for Tacos

raise the heat to medium-low, and cook gently until the mushrooms soften and start to release their juices, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the chile mixture, the oregano, and the pepper and stir to combine.  Simmer gently until the liquid from the sauce has reduced and the mushrooms are tender, about 10 more minutes.  If the sauce reduces too much, you can add some of the reserved soaking liquid.

Garlic Ancho Mushroom Filling for Tacos

6.  While you are cooking the mushrooms, prepare the tortillas to your liking.  There are a few different ways you can do this.  When I am making tacos with soft corn tortillas, I heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  I place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  I heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.

Corn Tortilla in a Cast Iron Skillet

After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil and place them in a 250 degree oven until I'm ready to assemble the tacos.  They always stay hot and soft!  I would only heat as many tortillas as you are planning on eating.  You can always heat more tortillas tomorrow for leftovers!

7.  When all of the components are ready, assemble the tacos.  For each taco, place one or two tortillas on a plate.  If the tortillas are thin, as mine were, you should double them up.  Cover the warm tortilla with a small bed of sliced spinach.  Place some of the mushroom mixture on the spinach, wilting it slightly.  Top with the salsa and a sprinkle of crumbled cotija cheese.  Enjoy!  :)

Well, this turned out to be another two-thumbs-up recipe!  If you make it, you'll get a few pans dirty, but the results are worth it! 

These were just a bit messy to eat - not because of the sauce, but because some of the whole mushrooms tended to fall out of the taco.  I suppose you could halve or quarter them all; you would just have to adjust the cooking time a bit since they would cook faster that way.  It didn't bother us.  We didn't have any company, so we just grabbed another napkin or two!  

I don't know that the spinach added much.  I guess I felt that I subconsciously needed to add a leafy green vegetable!  It certainly didn't hurt, but I can't say I tasted it all that much.  It did wilt a bit from the warm tortilla and mushrooms (which was the idea with my assembly order), but not as much as I thought it would.

We'll see how the leftovers are tomorrow.  I'm sure the mushrooms will be fine.  I'm hoping the lime in the salsa will keep the avocado from looking too dismal.  I may have to scrape off the top layer of the salsa, but there is enough left to do that, so hopefully we'll have a great do-over for this recipe, too!  Like my last taco recipe, this is enough for about four hungry people.  It seems like it would be a fun idea to add some sides next time, but we got really full with just the two tacos apiece! 

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you enjoy reading about or making these!  Well . . . two recipes down, a LOT more to go!  :)

Update:  So, we had the leftovers tonight (8/6).  A few pieces of the avocado did get a little brown.  It was funny - I took a fork and carefully spooned out the browned pieces and set them aside.  Then I thought, "WTH - this is perfectly good avocado!"  I threw them back in, stirred it up, and you couldn't even tell.  Steve said they were even better than yesterday!  :)

Next:  breakfast tacos with mimosas on Sunday morning . . . ???

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