Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From Disappointment to Tacos

Papalote has made us sad. Very sad, indeed. In more ways than one. Once a beloved California-style taqueria - unique in its fresh, healthy ingredients and mélange of vegetable and vegetarian options - is it time to accept that Papalote has soured? Sold out even?

The disappointment began with a switch in tortilla chips. An innocuous change, it may seem, but when an establishment that was once the home of your favorite chips and salsa - creamy, spicy tomatoey goodness alongside bubbly, yellow chips - instead serves you cheap hard, flat chips like out of a Costco bag that would come up to my waist, you know the ones, the ones often found in junior high cafeteria nachos, well, it's a disappointment. I can buy better tortilla chips at Walgreens. And I'm not the only one who's noticed.

But there was hope. After some sort of Food Network victory over Bobby Flay, Papalote began selling jars of their rightfully famous salsa. So we figured we'd keep a jar on hand at home to eat with the chips of our choice. Sigh. If only.

Concerns that this plan would fail began in the car after picking up a jar. A quick peek at the ingredients list and I knew something was wrong. Papalote salsa gets its creamy consistency and unique flavor from a traditional ingredient - pureed pumpkin seeds. The ingredients on the jar listed no such thing, but instead listed canola oil. Uh oh. The first taste at home validated our concerns. The salsa tasted like a spicy marinara (a very spicy marinara), completely devoid of the flavor we knew and loved. Crap. I should have tasted the product before I ordered and shipped jars as gifts. My enthusiasm had overwhelmed any caution.

So the chips are crap. The jars of salsa are crap. And did I mention last time we got food there a couple weeks ago I developed a case of food poisoning that lasted a week? I don't know when I'll be able to eat veggie fajitas or soyrizo again.

But I did find a use for that jar of spicy marinara. I am in the midst of a 500 Taco Summer. A friend began a group of people planning to eat 500 tacos between summer solstice and autumn equinox. I'll never make it to 500 - I enjoy too many other foods to devote so much of my intake to tacos. But I will eat as many as I can; I'm already to 20. So I put a portion of that jar to good use at lunch today and turned a bitter disappointment into delicious tacos.

Disappointment Tacos

Papalote salsa
Chicken breast
PAM olive oil spray
Corn tortillas
Jack cheese (slices or shredded)
Desired toppings: your favorite salsa, guacamole, cilantro, lime, sour cream, etc.

Marinate chicken breasts in the disappointing Papalote salsa for half an hour.

Grill marinated chicken on your George Foreman at 350 for 9-10 minutes, or on an outdoor grill.

Shred chicken.

Spray skillet generously with PAM and preheat to high. Reduce to medium high and griddle tortillas topped with cheese until cheese has melted thoroughly and tortillas have browned and crisped on bottom side.

Top cheesy tortillas with chicken and any additional toppings you desire. Congratulations! You have now turned a disappointing jar of spicy marinara bleh into easy, tasty tacos.

Pictured with Casa Chicas medium roasted salsa and mild guacamole. Yes, CASA CHICAS salsa on my Papalote marinated chicken tacos. Sad, but way tastier.

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