Introduction: Taco Pockets
This is my twist on a traditional Taco/Burrito/Empanada/Chimichanga. They are basically burritos, but instead of using a flour tortilla, I use egg roll wrappers. It gives them a nice crunch and a different flavor than a traditional flour tortilla.
Step 1: Ingredients
There's really only a few key ingredients, and you can obviously tweak the ingredients around if you like, but here's what I use.
-1 lb. Ground Beef (lean is better. I used 90/10 for this batch)
-1 can prepared refried beans
-1 package Egg Roll Wraps, any brand...just make sure you get the big ones, the won ton wrappers are too small
-1 package Shredded Mexican Cheese blend (again, feel free to use any kind of cheese either
pre shredded or not. Shredded is just more convenient)
-1 can El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco (this is what I use for the Taco meat, but any variety of taco mix will work. Some places don't carry this so use whatever taco mix you like!)
-Vegetable Oil (How much oil you need depends on the type of pan you use. A deep fryer would work great, as does a wok. I just used a regular pan this time)
-Salsa (any variety)
-Spices to taste (Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cumin...I just use these to season the meat a bit while it is browning. Just don't overpower your taco mix/sauce)
Step 2: Materials...non-food Stuff That You'll Need
Most of these are pretty obvious, but I want to cover all the bases here.
-Frying pan or skillet
-Small pot or saucepan
-plates (one for making the pockets on, and another for draining the oil off after cooking)
-paper towels (to put on one of the plates to drain off the oil)
-large mixing bowl
-2 regular bowls: one for the cheese (explained later) and one with a small amount of water in it (also explained later).
-a pan or wok or deep fryer to cook them in. ( I just cleaned out the meat pan and re-used it)
Step 3: Preparing the Filling...Part 1
The first thing to do is prepare the filling...just like the title of this step might imply. Start by browning the ground beef. I always find that it is best to brown the meat slowly over a medium heat, so it doesn't become tough or rubbery. It may take a bit longer, but it will be worth it in the end. I like to add a little salt, pepper and garlic powder to the meat while it is browning just to give the meat a little more flavor.
At the same time, start heating up the refried beans. Make sure to do this over a low to medium heat, as they can burn pretty easily if heated too fast.
Step 4: Preparing the Filling...Part 2. the Sequel
Drain the beef well, then return to the pan and add the Salsa de Chile (or prepare according to whatever taco mix you are using) and simmer until most of the liquid is cooked off. Keep stirring the beans over low heat so they don't get dried out.
Step 5: Preparing the Filling...Part 3. the Final Chapter
Once the sauce has cooked down and the meat is ready, combine the meat and the beans in a large mixing bowl (I used to portion them out separately into the wrappers, but this is so much easier) until well mixed.
Also, at this point, you should prepare everything for filling the wrappers. I like to put the cheese in a bowl or on a plate...easier than pulling it straight from the bag. Also, you will need a small bowl with some water (used to seal the wrappers shut)
Step 6: Making the Pockets
Before starting this step, begin heating the oil on the stove. ALWAYS BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WHEN COOKING WITH HOT OIL!! I can't stress that enough. I have been burned by splashing oil and it can be very painful, even dangerous, so please be very careful!
I recommend putting it on around medium. It is better to have the oil be a bit lower temperature than to have it too hot. If the oil is too hot, the wrappers will not cook evenly, they come out crumbly on the outside and chewy on the inside and they will not be as good, guaranteed (personal experience). They could also burn much easier if the oil is too hot. Ok, now that the oil is heating, let's make some Pockets!
Place an Egg Roll wrapper on a plate, with one of the points facing towards you.
Put approximately 1 - 2 tablespoons of filling on the wrapper a little less than halfway down, making sure to leave room on the sides.
Place a small amount of cheese (or a large amount, just not too much so it wont close) on top of the filling
Fold the bottom up over the filling, then fold in the sides, making sure to tuck in the edges as best as you can. If there is any kind of large opening, the cheese may melt out and make a mess in the oil.
Next, roll the whole thing once, leaving a little point at the top. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and "paint" the water all over the little triangle tip.
The wrappers come packaged in a rice flour, which helps keep them from sticking. When water is applied though, it acts a a glue to hold the rolls shut. Fold over again "glueing" the little triangle to the rest of the wrapper. You can use more water to seal the edges if you need to.
Step 7: Cooking Time!
Again, just a simple, yet obvious reminder...Always be very careful when cooking with hot oil!!
Ok, now that the oil has heated (again, don't make it too hot, or the wrappers will come out chewy) gently place the rolls in the pan one at a time trying to avoid splattering any oil!
Let them cook for a few minutes (or until they are lightly browned on the bottom. This may take a little longer if the oil is lower temperature, but that is better than too hot!)
Flip the rolls using tongs or a fork, being careful not to puncture or break the rolls.
Let them cook for a few more minutes until the bottoms are golden brown.
Step 8: Almost There...
Pull the rolls out of the oil and place them onto the plate with the paper towels on it to drain.
Let them drain and cool! They are still full of hot oil!! Trust me on this one...I accidentally took a bite of one that I thought had been cooling, but it just came out of the oil....2nd degree burns inside my mouth. Couldn't taste anything for almost 3 weeks. Ouch.
Also, always make sure to dispose of used oil properly. Do not pour it down the drain!! This can be not only bad for your pipes, but also bad for the environment! Some areas will pick up used oil, and some restaurants will even take it to be recycled. If neither of these is an option, pour the used oil into a coffee can or an empty oil bottle once it is cooled (never pour hot oil into anything!!!). Use paper towels to wipe out any excess oil from the pan, then go ahead and wash the pan. The canned or bottled oil can be thrown away in the trash.
Anyway, after they have cooled a bit and drained, they are ready to serve.
Step 9: Ka-Kow! Ready to Eat!!
I like to serve these with a little bit of salsa and sour cream on the side , but you can obviously use whatever you like. My roommate uses nacho cheese sauce, and I bet homemade guacamole would be pretty good too. I usually serve these with Vigo brand Yellow saffron rice. It is a good compliment to the flavors in the Pockets, and it is super easy to make.
I will post more pics next time I make these, but I got too excited to eat them and forgot to take a finished picture. : )
Well, that's it. I hope you like these as much as my friends and I do. Happy Eating!!