After a long and frigid winter, we finally had a bit of a warm up here in Philly for a few days. It was real spring weather, which, after the winter we had, felt like summer weather. We didn’t need coats, the kids were playing outside, the sun was up late. Aaaah, it was wonderful.
Warm weather makes me think of TexMex for dinner, or as they call it in San Diego, Fresh Mex. When I lived in SD (in my omnivore life), I loved sitting outside on a the balcony of some bar, drinking in the warm sun and a Pacifico, munching on some chips and salsa and fish tacos. THe memories…
For this inaugural warm-weather dinner, I was going to make chorizo tacos from The Kind Diet, which is just cooking up some vegan chorizo, then putting taco stuff on top, but that seemed so blah. I had made black bean tacos just last week so I wanted something a little more exciting for this week. That’s when I came up with the brilliant idea of baked tacos–chorizo with some veggies all wrapped up and smothered in salsa, some melty vegan cheese and pickled jalapeños on top, and finished off with fresh tomatoes and scallions. Yum, yum, extra yum!
I started by browning up some sliced onions and peppers. I like to use frozen peppers in things like this. They start out softer, so it’s easier to eat them later, but you could certainly use fresh if you prefer the crunch. It’s probably sacrilege to say I like frozen veggies, but I’ll just pray for forgiveness on Sunday.
I then added the chorizo. I used a packaged chorizo, but Kristy Turner of Keepin’ It Kind is coming out with a cookbook that will have a homemade chorizo recipe that I can’t wait to try. I got the chorizo nice and brown, then added in some leftover cooked rice and two chopped chipotles in adobo. As the saying goes, “some like it hot,” and we are definitely part of the some. Chipotles in adobo add a wonderful smoky heat, but you could add fewer (or more!) or leave them out altogether if that’s too much heat.
At this point, the pan was definitely in need of some deglazing, but what could I use that would work well here? White wine just wasn’t right, and I’m not a fan of deglazing with stock, so what could I use, what could I use? Aha, beer! Yes, this was my most fabulous inspiration of the dish. Beer is fabulous with TexMex dishes, and it’s even more fabulous in TexMex dishes. And for the ultimate in awesomeness (at least for me) we just started brewing our own beer so I had a lovely IPA of our own making in the fridge. If I didn’t have our beer in the fridge and I made this again, I would probably use an amber Mexican beer, like Pacifico (one of my favorites).
Once all of the yummy brown bits had been picked up by the beer, and the beer had mostly evaporated, it was time to fill the tacos. I was using large, whole wheat tortillas and thought I would only get four out of it. I filled the first one and it seemed huge, but then I did smaller amounts for the other ones and they seemed too small. I ended up with five, which is an awkward number and I think I could have gotten at least six.
Of course, after eating one, I think you could probably go on the smaller side and everyone would be satisfied. Because I was using the larger tortillas, I was able to fold the sides as well, so it formed a nice little package. If you use smaller tortillas, you could just roll them up, leaving the ends open. If you’re just rolling them, you can use corn or flour tortillas. If you want to fold them up into packages, definitely go for flour. Corn tends to rip, at least it does for me.
I put the rolled tacos into a greased baking pan, then covered them with jarred salsa. I used Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa for more heat, but you can use any jarred salsa you want. You could even use a tomatillo salsa, but this is not the place for fresh salsa. The tomatoes in fresh salsa would cook, and the water would be too runny but not get the tacos quite juicy and soft enough. You want the thickness of what comes out of a jar.
I covered it all with some vegan cheese and a few pickled jalapeños, then baked it at 425º for about 20 minutes.
Once it was done, I added some chopped tomatoes and scallions, and we added avocado at the table.
I asked my husband if he had any suggestions/changes/improvements. The response, “No, it was fabulous.” I think I might try a squeeze of lime next time, and I would have liked some cilantro to go on top but ours wasn’t ready for the compost bin when I checked on it 😦 I might also try an avocado cream or guacamole instead of just chunked avocado. Admittedly, the vegan cheese was the weak point. I just haven’t really found a good one yet, but I’ll keep trying.
This is a really versatile dish and you can add/substitute whatever you want. Enjoy!
Baked Chorizo Tacos
- 1 T cooking oil of choice
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cups sliced bell peppers
- 8 oz. vegan chorizo, crumbled
- 1-2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (optional)
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 4-6 oz. amber beer, about half a bottle
- 4-6 large tortillas (more if you are using small tortillas)
- 1 1/2-2 cups jarred salsa
- 1 cup shredded vegan cheese, Cheddar or Monterey Jack, or a combination of the two, would work best
- 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeño (optional)
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
- 1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- Grease 9×13 baking pan. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan (not non-stick), heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent, but not brown.
- Add chorizo, and cook until starting to brown and brown bits are starting to form on the bottom of the pot.
- Add chipotles and brown rice, stirring to combine.
- Add beer, stirring to pick up all of the yummy brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.
- Warm your tortillas in a microwave until they are soft and pliable. You do not want them to get crisp or crunchy.
- Add filling to your tortillas and roll them, either forming a package by folding in the ends, or just a simple roll. Place the filled tortillas, seam-side down, in the greased baking pan.
- Once all tortillas are in the baking pan, cover with the salsa and cheese. If using, scatter pickled jalapeños on top. Place in the oven until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with chopped tomato, scallions, and cilantro.
- Serve with avocado, sour cream, or any other toppings of your choice