The secret to making restaurant-quality tacos, according to a top Mexican golf club’s chef
Courtesy of Quivira Golf Club
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
Last Tuesday was National Taco Day, a fact that only matters to diners so compliant that they need to be told what to eat, when.
For the rest of us, any day can be taco day. That’s how Carlos Arriaga Nava sees it. He’s the chef at Quivira Golf Club, in Cabo San Lucas, where ribeye tacos are a favorite. Arriaga Nava serves them at the Quivira Steakhouse and at two of four on-course comfort stations.
Not that the chef’s taco repertoire is restricted to red meat.
“In Mexico, we put almost everything in tacos,” Arriaga Nava says.
You can do the same at home. Just keep these taco-making rules in mind.
1. Choosing Your Tortillas
In Mexico, corn tortillas are the people’s choice, Arriaga Nava says; they’re the most common. But less so in the north, where flour tortillas are customary, too. If it’s your turn to make tacos, let your personal preference be your guide. Just, please, no crunchy, hard-shell tacos, Arriaga Nava says. At least not if you want to call them ‘tacos.’ Those are something else.
2. Keeping Them Warm and Soft
Warm tortillas. That’s the way to go. The trick is not to let them dry out. Arriaga Nava likes to warm them on comal, a traditional flat iron pan. But if that’s not an option for you, a reliable method is to wrap them in foil and place them in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 minutes, then wrap them in a kitchen towel until you’re ready to serve. Spraying the tortillas lightly with water before you warm them will also help keep them steamy and soft.
3. The Right Garnishes
The first rule of garnishes is that almost anything goes. Feel free to experiment until you find the pairings that please your palate. For ribeye tacos, Arriaga Nava says, you can’t go wrong with radish and avocado. If you’re feeling ambitious you could add frijoles puercos — refried beans with lard. To ensure the tenderest possible ribeye, slice it thinly against the grain, or fibers, of the meat.
4. Making Your Own Tortillas
Home-made are always better, Arriaga Nava says. And they’re not difficult to make, provided you have nixtamalized flour (don’t panic — that’s just a fancy word for a traditional process of soaking and cooking corn in limewater.) You can find nixtamalized corn flour at many supermarkets and specialty stores.
Here’s Arriaga Nava’s recipe:
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water with 70 grams (roughly 1/3 cup) of lard and knead the ingredients until you have a uniform mixture.
Roll the dough into balls. Working one at a time, place each dough ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten them. Cook each tortilla on both sides on a comal. If you don’t have a comal, a cast iron pan will do.