Firehouse Tacos

By Kipp Rix

Out in the west Texas town of El Paso ….

Okay, that’s how the song starts, but El Paso is blessed with Chico’s Tacos, and its signature item is rolled tacos (flautas) slathered in a delectable tomato and chile sauce covered with mounds of cheese. Chico’s recipe is a close-guarded family secret, and the restaurant has become an iconic symbol of the El Paso area. After relocating from El Paso to Farmington, New Mexico, I started testing recipes to try and crack the secret of this awesome meal. Though I have yet to match the flavor of the sauce exactly, this recipe is 95 percent accurate and will be enjoyed by the crews nonetheless. In preparing the tacos in the past, I have substituted shredded beef, as from last month’s brisket recipe and shredded smoked turkey meat--both offer a pleasant and different taste to the tacos and are a great way to use leftovers--but for this recipe I will use ground beef as in the original tacos.

Ingredients (serves 4):

Sauce:

3 poblano peppers

1 large vine ripe tomato

1 small bay leaf

3 large garlic cloves

1 Knorr chicken cube

2 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes with garlic

6 fire roasted, peeled hatch green chilies

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Tacos:

1 pound ground beef

1 package taco seasoning

20 corn tortillas

1 package shredded Mexi-blend cheese

 

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a stock pot, add the bay leaf and poblano peppers, then fill the pot with enough water to float the peppers.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Once the peppers have boiled for 5 minutes, add the vine ripe tomato and continue to boil until the skin on the tomato cracks.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and pull the tomato and peppers from the water and plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and to cool the tomato.
  4. Once the tomato is cool to the touch, peel off the skin and dice tomato into large chunks; remove the stems and seeds from the peppers; and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Depending on the size of your blender, the next step may have to be done in small batches and combined. Add enough of the boiling water to the blender to dissolve the chicken cube; add the tomato, garlic, fire roasted tomatoes, and green chile to the blender, and blend the mixture adding water from the boiling pot as needed until a consistency of tomato soup is reached.
  6. Add the resulting sauce to another stock pot, and bring to a low boil, cooking for 20 minutes. Add water from the first stock pot as needed to retain the thickness of the sauce.
  7. While the sauce is cooking, brown the ground beef seasoning with the taco seasoning. Allow the beef to cool once cooked.
  8. Lightly fry the corn tortillas (dip into hot oil for 5 seconds on each side and place on paper towel to drain).
  9. Place equal amounts of meat into each tortilla; tightly roll the tortilla, securing the tortilla with a toothpick to keep from unrolling.
  10. Fry the rolled tacos in the hot oil until the tortilla is crisp and starting to brown. Remove the toothpick once the taco is cooked.
  11. Place the cooked tacos on paper towels to drain any excess oil.

To serve, place rolled tacos into a serving bowl, ladle some of the tomato sauce over the tacos, and top with cheese. Serve with French fries (Chico’s standard) or Spanish rice and refried beans.

 

Kipp Rix has been in the fire service for 19 years working as both a career and volunteer fire fighter in New Mexico. Kipp started cooking at the age of 10 and learned his early skills watching shows like the Galloping Gourmet and Julia Child. Throughout the years, Kipp refined his skills with a focus on grilling foods with a southwestern flair. In 2009 Fire House Publications, LLC released the first of Kipp’s two cook books with the second book released in 2011; a portion of the proceeds from the books helps fund Fire Kids. Kipp’s philosophy of fire house cooking is “Just because you work in a busy house does not mean that you have to settle for ordinary cooking, a crew’s attitude is directly related to the meals served!” Each of Kipp’s recipes has been Fire House tested and approved. Please email krix@fhpllc.net with a crew picture enjoying this recipe along with your review; each month one entry will be selected to receive a signed copy of one of my cook books. In 2013 Kipp founded Fire Kids, an organization that works with New Mexico children’s agencies and other organizations like the Make A Wish Foundation, of New Mexico to identify children facing a life altering or terminal illness; working with local municipal agencies and fire departments Fire Kids affords these children an opportunity to live the life of a fire fighter for a day. Complete information can be found on our Fire Kids web page.

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