In this age of quick and easy accessibility to gourmet recipes and exotic ingredients, everyone can be a “foodie”. However, in my opinion a true foodie has a deep appreciation for comfort food–soul food–that is made from simple, everyday ingredients. Soul food isn’t pretentious. It doesn’t have a pedigree for each ingredient–the exact pasture in which the cows grazed, who were then milked by hand to provide the butter, for example. Soul food is meant to feed the body and nourish the soul.
Unfortunately a lot of my favorite soul food is patently unhealthy, so much so that I can’t even eat it in moderation. My body is so used to a clean diet that one processed-food gut bomb can knock me down for a couple of days with bloating and sluggishness. In those cases, I’ve revamped my recipes to be cleaner, maybe not lighter, but a better version of the classic.
Here’s a clean-eating take on a dish that’s become a Halloween tradition in my family. No one really knows why or how the tradition started, but it’s actually pretty brilliant because it can be made ahead (so you have time to wrangle little ones into costumes) baked and kept hot for quite a while (so you can answer the door to trick or treaters without worrying about watching the stove) and served up warm and satisfying (to take the chill off of frozen kiddos, and gut load them with something decent before they dive into their candy)
The original recipe for “Tacoritos” came from an old friend of my grandmother–or maybe an aunt? Anyway, it called for cream-of-chicken soup, which I detest, so I hacked it with a homemade bechamel that’s almost as easy as opening a can.
- 2 lbs ground beef
- ½ onion, minced
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 c. milk
- 2-3 tsp chicken bouillion concentrate such as Better than Bouillion (or 2-3 bouillion cubes)
- ½ tsp each ground sage, ground oregano, and ground cumin
- 6 large flour tortillas (Burrito size)
- 2 c. grated Mexican blend or cheddar/jack cheese
- chopped lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc. for garnish
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, and chili powder till no pink remains. Drain excess liquid and set aside. In a large saucepan or deep skillet, melt butter over med. heat. Stir in flour and cook about 1 min. Whisk in milk, bouillion, and spices, reduce to gentle simmer and cook till thickened, stirring often. Stir just enough sauce into ground beef to moisten. Fill each tortilla with a scoop of ground beef and a sprinkle of cheese, roll up like a burrito and place into a greased 9x13 casserole. Spoon remaining sauce over burritos, top with grated cheese, and bake at 350 until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with garnishes of your choice.