Friday, March 26, 2010

20. Crunchy Beef Turnovers, Not a Taco

The 60s was an era defined by a generation of youth who had their own private label - Baby Boomers. Promoters geared everything toward the wants and needs of this large buying group and businesses could hardly wait for those kids to get into the work force so everyone could spend, spend, spend. Although many boomers felt special by default, their biggest contribution probably was to the country's economic growth.

The young people who came out of the 60s wanted to experience things and were very aggressive in that pursuit. If they weren’t trying to shock their parents with their style of clothes and long hair, they were bent on changing the music; sound suddenly went from fun times with the Beach Boys to the acid-dropping tones of Janis Joplin. It was an amazing transformation.

With all that groovin' going on, food also took on different flavors. Boomers wanted the new and different -  fries were dripped with ketchup, pizza became deeper and dressed up and food became more hot and spicy. Restaurants with Mexican food on the menu cruised into cities and even small northern, southern and eastern towns. People who had never thought to put meat between anything but slices of bread, ordered tacos, re-fried beans and salsa with gusto.

I ate my first taco at a high school Spanish Club get-to-gether. Our teacher supervised while we fixed the foreign-looking food; it was fun, messy and we all loved it. Tacos have come a long way in fifty years. Today, they can be multi-layered, super grande and artery-clogging.

While definitely not a taco, this updated recipe for Crunchy Beef Turnovers does have some of the essence of tacos.The turnovers have a couple of surprise ingredients which are wonderful when blended with the other flavors.

Diane's Crunchy Beef Turnovers

1 T salad oil
1 med onion, finely chopped
½ pound lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 beef bouillon cube, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin (more if desired)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large tart  apple, not peeled, cored and chopped (surprise ingredient)
1-2 T  cranraisins (optional surprise ingredient)
1-2 T cilantro, minced (optional)

1 C shredded cheddar cheese (more if desired)

Pastry for a double-crust pie.

 Lime-flavored tortilla chips, crushed to make ¼ cup

Heat oil in med-sized frying pan. Add onion and crumble in beef; cook, stirring, until meat loses pink color. Spoon off and discard fat. Add garlic, bouillon, chili powder and cumin. Stir in bell pepper, cran-raisins, cilantro and apple a; remove from heat. Mix in cheese, then season to taste with salt.

On floured pastry cloth, roll out half the pastry to a 10-inch circle. Sprinkle half the crushed tortilla chips over rolled pastry dough and roll lightly with rolling pin to embed chips in dough; pull up on cloth edge nearest you so pastry rolls over pin and continue to roll pastry until you can pick up the pin with the pastry on it. Next, unroll pastry with chip-side down on ungreased baking sheet. Spoon half the beef mixture over half the circle, spreading to within 1 inch of the edges. Carefully fold the pastry half over the filled half and pinch edges to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry, chips, and beef mixture to make a second turnover. Sprinkle both turnovers evenly with any remaining chips, pressing in lightly. (If there is too much filling, you don't have to use it all...)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake turnovers, uncovered until edges are crisp 25-30 min. Slide both turnovers onto a platter. Cut into wedge, sprinkle with a little extra cilantro and serve on top of shredded lettuce, if desired.

Sides: Fruit, avocado, fresh tomato.
Low fat: substitute ground turkey for the beef and make the pastry dough with New Balance margarine instead of shortening.

 *Hint: Buy sharp cheddar cheese in blocks and hand-grate it.  Not only is this a more economical way to purchase cheese, it will produce bold, fresh pieces of cheese quite unlike in the pre-shredded packaged products sold in stores. .

1 comment:

  1. Marian wrote:
    When I was in college (a LONG time ago!), our church youth group occasionally served at their Sunday night get-togethers a dish called "Frito Pie." Do you happen to have a recipe for this? If so, I would really like it.