Welcome to Tuesday in my world. You know, Taco Tuesday or as we call it Tijuana Tuesday. Tuesdays are our night for all things Mexican. As it just so happens, tonight really is all about the tacos.
Tacos are, hands down, America’s favorite Mexican dish. Mexico has been serving up tacos long before the Spanish arrived. Ancient Mexicans made their tacos with fresh soft flat corn tortillas wrapped around fillings such as fish and cooked organs. These tacos did not contain cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream that we have come to appreciate today. Tacos as we know them are less than 100 years old, and that’s an infant in the culinary world.
The Taco didn’t arrive in America until sometime around 1905 with the migrants who came in search of work on the railroads and other manual jobs. In Mexico, tacos were the food of the working class. In America, they continued to be a simple yet filling meal of working men. That is until street vendors began to sell Tacos to Americans. Americans found them exotic and foreign. Street tacos were incredibly spicy and unfamiliar to the American Palate. The very idea of cooked organs were soon rejected for more palatable fillings of chopped or ground meats. To offset the heat, Americans included Cheddar Cheese, cool lettuce and tomatoes.
Mexicans revolutionized the way Americans ate tacos in the 1940s with the introduction of a U-Shaped Crisp-Fried shell. The shells were pre-made and sold in packages, expediting the whole taco-making process. Ten years later, Taco Bell took this idea to heart as a way to streamline their operations. Previously, tacos were cooked to order, and always on a soft shell. The need for mass production to satisfy the American demand make crunchy taco shells the standard.
Maybe it’s because we aren’t trying to mass produce tacos in our kitchen, but ours are almost always soft shell tacos. When we do have tacos with a crunch, I prefer Chicken over any other meat.
Stand Up Chicken Tacos
1 package Stand’N Stuff Taco Shells
2-1/2 cups shredded Rotisserie Chicken
3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1/4 cup Water
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped Green Chilies
1 (16 oz) can Refried Beans
1-1/4 cup shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
3 Roma Tomatoes
1 cup shredded Lettuce
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Guacamole
Note: For the shredded chicken meat, use a whole chicken from the deli, remove skin and shred meat or buy bagged shredded chicken meat. Both options are perfect.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bottom of 13-inch by 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Place taco shells standing up and together in dish; set aside.
In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat shredded chicken, taco seasoning, water and chiles over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is heated through. Keep warm over low heat.
Empty refried beans into a microwave safe bowl. Heat on HIGH for 3 minutes.
To assemble, spread about 2 tablespoons warm refried beans in bottom of each shell. Top each with heaping 1/4 cup chicken mixture and 2 tablespoons shredded cheese. Bake 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, chop Tomatoes and shred lettuce, place into serving bowls. Place sour cream into a serving bowl.
Remove tacos from oven, top as desired and enjoy!