Taco Night

Ann Arbor FoodI have been thinking about eating more locally lately and what that means for my dinning options. Certain cuisines seem to lend themselves to a local diet more than others. Mexican food for example can fit nicely in the local temperate climate of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tomatoes, peppers, chiles, onions, corn, black and pinto beans, garlic and fresh herbs all do well here in Michigan. In fact I have most of these items are in my home garden. The only thing that is hard to grow around here is citrus fruits like lemon and lime and avocado which are an integral part of the Mexican food flavor profile.

By no means am I local foods purest, but I do like to try and make meals with as much locally sourced ingredients as possible. This meal is one of those meals.

Taco Night Menu:

Shrimp and Black Bean Tacos with Homemade Tortillas

Black Beans: (Vegan Option)

Measure and sort out one cup of dried bean. Soak over night. Strain off the soaking liquid and rinse the beans. Place in pot and add enough cold water to measure an inch above the beans. Bring beans to a boil, skim off any white foam that forms, add a bay leaf, cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until soft, but not falling apart, 1-2 hours. Season with salt, chili powder, cumin, lime juice and olive oil to taste. You can also use pinto bean instead of black beans.

Shrimp:

I suggest getting the small shrimp because they are cheaper and you will have to chopped them up to fit the taco shells anyway. They now do farm raise shrimp in Michigan.

Peel, de-vain, and wash the shrimp. Dry off with a towel. Season with some chili power, chipotle  sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and broil for 8-11 minutes.

Salsa:

1 small red onion fine dice

1 clove garlic minced

3-4 big tomatoes (mixed heirloom) small dice

small bunch of cilantro chopped

Salt, Pepper, lime juice to taste

small jalapeno pepper minced, seeds, and ribs removed (optional)

The salt makes the tomatoes release some liquid. I drain off half of the liquid and use it to flavor the beans.

Tortillas:

2 cups of corn masa flour (I use Bob’s Redmill)

1- 1 1/4 cups of water. (more if needed)

Mix flour and water to form a paste. It should be able to come together.

Heat a cast iron pan on the stove on high for 4-5 minutes

Wet hands slightly and roll paste into a golf ball sized ball.

Using a double sided plastic lined tortilla press, place the ball into the press and flatten. I find that I need to press once to flatten and a second time to make thinner. They will be about 4-5 inches round. Carefully, peel off the tortilla and place in the hot pan.

Cook for one minute on the first side. Flip and cook for another minute. Then flip again, and using a scapula, press down around the edge of the tortilla. You should see it slightly puff up, kind of like a pita, but not as much. Repeat with the rest of the masa mix.

Serve the tacos with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and hot sauce (optional). Note: Do not over fill the shells. I always do and it is a disaster.

I made a cabbage salad and served fresh watermelon from the farmer’s market with the meal.

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