Tacos de Canasta
Historically, tacos de canasta would be made in large batches and put in a basket for mostly hard labor workers in construction or building train tracks, etc. Or a woman would make them and then go and sell them in her basket during workers lunch breaks. Now a days, you can find them as any other taco stand particularly in Mexico City. They will have all kinds of tacos de canasta such as barbacoa, cochinita, frijol, mole, etc. For me, they are an excellent option for a potluck or entertaining at home without worrying of making 1 taco at a time for your guests. You make the tacos, wrap them good and then let them sit in the basket. I personally like to make them in little pouches of 2 or 3 mini tacos, this makes it easy for you to grab one pouch at a time. Also, don’t confuse these with tacos sudados which means steamed tacos. While there is similarity to them – those are different and another taco recipe in future weeks. Tacos de canasta are passed through oil and filled with typically something juicy such as barbacoa or beans. Taco is then stacked with others in a plastic bag and sealed tight. This causes the taco to sweat and the tortilla gets super soft. You get them out and eat with typically a hot vinegar-based salsa. I find them delicious and super easy to make. Hope you make this for your next potluck or a lovely picnic enjoying our fall weather. Provecho!
4” inch white corn tortillas
Guajillo oil *recipe follows (3 guajillos, 1 garlic clove, ½ cup olive oil)
Filling of your choice, we used refried pinto beans and slowly roasted chuck roast.
• Chuck roast 2 lbs
• 1 white onion
• 5 garlics
• Salt to taste
SALSA ROJA to drizzle after cooking
• 2 tomatoes
• 1 garlic, ½ habanero
• ¼ tsp of oregano
• salt to taste
2 cups of cooked pinto beans
1 tablespoon of lard
2 tablespoons of salsa (fresh or can be store bought such as Herdez)
• pickled cabbage or onions
• preferred hot sauce
You will need: Basket, Ziploc bag, Butcher paper, Cloth
Cook your chuck roast the night before in a crock pot for 6 – 8 hours. Once done, remove and pull apart. I personally like to drizzle my chuck roast afterwards with whatever salsa I have in the fridge. In this case I used salsa roja I had which was a combination of 2 tomatoes, 1 garlic, oregano and ½ habanero blended with salt to taste. Set aside.
Next, prepare your refried beans. I made mine super easy by blending my beans smooth. Then I heated up a cast iron with lard and fried store-bought salsa Herdez casera for 2 -3 minutes, added the beans and stirred through. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and turn off.
Set up your basket with cloth that you can wrap your bag or alternative you can use a tortilla warmer to put your tacos in and then place that in the basket (see pictures). I have used both, the tortilla warmer does help keeping them warmer for longer…though not required.
In a small sauce pan, place your guajillos, garlic and olive oil. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes and turn heat off and set aside to cool down. Once cooled down, strain the chiles and garlic and transfer to a glass container. Alternative, you can transfer your cooled oil with the chiles and garlic into a mini food processor. Pulse several times and then strain into a glass container. You can keep this oil for 2-4 weeks in a cool place in your pantry tightly sealed.
Heat up your comal or heavy pan you use to heat up your corn tortillas. Brush your tortillas with canola and guajillo oil. Set on the pan and watch the tortillas bubble and turn around – total of 2 minutes. You want to make sure you are heating them up though not frying them. Set aside.
Set your butcher paper ( I like to use 10 by 10 squares). Set your 2 – 3 tortillas and fill up with chuck and beans. Fold over and wrap with the butcher paper. Set in the plastic bag. Continue to do taco pouches and fill your back. You can put them in a tortilla warmer and warm up for 1 minute, then set in the basket and cover up with the cloth. Or you can simply put the sealed plastic bag in the basket and cover up. Let them rest for at least 20 minutes and then you are ready to serve. They will stay warm for several hours. Serve with pickled vegetables and hot sauce.