Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vegan Chorizo Gorditas & Smoky Fire Roasted Carrot Jalapeno Salsa

Yay. Here I am, and here you are. Welcome. First post, first blog. After much convincing from friends to do something creative and food-related and after 6 months of being unemployed, I decided to get off my ass. Yeah, the "TET" got me--"TET" is my acronym for "tough economic times". Ugh, such a hackneyed and trite phrase-so trite, it makes my stomach churn. I am not really so bothered by what denotes/connotes rather by the lack of creativity and the fact that newspapers & magazines haven't yet started to abbreviate somehow, perhaps using my acronym.

Enough of that. On to the food.

In El Paso, TX, and in the land from which I hail, summer means festival "gorditas". Please forget the Taco Bell lie as true gorditas are nothing like that. Think of a thick corn tortilla (about 1/3 in thick), deep fried and while still hot, cut open like a pita. Then stuffed with meat & potato & onion mixture, shredded lettuce and cheese. El Pasoans are truly fanatical about these. In fact, gorditas are, for some, the sole reason to go to a carnival or festival. The gordita stands always have loooong lines and most vendors sell out EVERY night. I've been to festivals that had maybe about a total of 30 boths with 10 of them being gordita sellers.

In high school, in marching band camp, jajaja... but yes, in band camp, our big fund raiser was a gordita dinner. The band members and band parents prepared everything. We sold tickets in advance. Huge money maker--in a weekend we would raise at least $5,000. I loved volunteering for this event because we would get to take home all the wounded soldiers--the misshapen or torn gorditas! jajaja--me and my ulterior motives.

Now I live in San Diego, CA and miss my little gorditas, so what is an unemployed girl to do but make her own. Not only am I broke, but there is no place in outside of El Paso that sells them. Plus, I love a challenge. This is what I came up with and it certainly hit the spot! Would be even more awesome with sides--spanish rice & refried beans.
First, you need some Maseca--the key ingredient in gorditas. You can find this near the flour at your local grocery store. I've seen it at most major markets. It's an instant masa corn flour, made of white or yellow corn. It's gluten free, cheap and easy to work with. Also great for making corn tortillas and tamales. I've found that if you leave it out in the cupboard it can go rancid so I keep it in the package in a sturdy ziploc in the freezer.

(makes 8)
2 cups Maseca
2 cups warm water (but may require more based on ambient humidity levels in your area)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda
Sift dry ingredients together. Make a little well in the center and pour water and mix with your hands. Dough should be pliable and not stick. If too dry add a tablespoon of water and keep working until you get the right consistency, adding more water as needed. If too sticky, or rather, pasty, add in a tablespoon of Maseca until it's the consistency of sold Play-doh.
Cut into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and flatten by hand until you get 8 round patties that are each about 1/3 inch thick. You don't want them too thin, I'll explain later. You don't want them too thick lest the center not cook.

To cook, either deep fry until golden brown (this is the tradition way) or cook on a hot oiled skillet for about 2 minutes on each side (this is my way, healthier--I call it "gorditas secas, meaning dry gorditas).

As soon as they are cooked, while still hot take each gordita and split horizontally, like a pita bread. If you let them cool, they get kind of hard making it almost impossible to split them without tearing them apart. Gorditas are ready to be filled like a pita pocket sandwich. Once filled add: shredded lettuce or cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, salsa--you know, the typical taco stuff.

Note: Growing up, my mom and I would make "gorditas secas" and not split them. As soon as they were cooked we would take the hot gorditas and poke little holes in them on one side with a fork or knife and smeared on a little Mazola corn margarine (that was our favorite) and add a little salt. You should try this! Also good smeared with refried beans. Be creative.
Now that you know how to make these, I suggest you keep a sack of Maseca handy! So easy to make and so good.

Spicy Chorizo, Potato, Zucchini Filling
2 tbsp canola oil
2 medium russet potatoes, small dice (I prefer like them with the peel on, but)
1/2 onion chopped
1 jalapeno chopped, or less, depending on how spicy you like it
8 oz Vegan Chorizo
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup tomate sauce
salt, to your taste
pepper, to your taste
1 medium zucchini, medium dice
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan add potatoes, spread out so they are in an even layer. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes or until browned on one side and then stir them once and cook another 5 minutes. Add onion, jalapeno and crumbled chorizo. Cook another 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add zucchini tomato sauce, garlic, salt and pepper and stir again. Cover, reduce heat and let cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are softened.

Note: Zucchini goes in last because it cooks so rapidly and you don't want it to get all mushy.

Smoky Fire Roasted Carrot Jalapeno Salsa
(makes a LOT--about 4 cups)

4 medium carrots, whole but peeled
2 whole jalapenos
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 whole lime, juiced
salt, to your taste
black pepper

Char carrots and jalapenos either on a cast iron skillet or an a grill. Make sure to really char the heck out of 'em as this is what will impart the smoky flavor!

In frying pan, heat oil and add cumin and let toast for 1 minute. Add onion and cook for 1 minute until soft. Add garlic, tomato paste, charred jalapenos and carrots along with water or broth. Stir well so tomato paste is dissolved. Cover and let cook over low heat until carrots are fork tender. Let mixture cool then dump mixture into blender or food processor along with cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Keeps about 5 days, refrigerated.

Note: Don't worry that you made so much of this stuff! Don't let it go to waste! This salsa would be great in lieu of tomato sauce in spanish rice. Also great as an enchilada sauce or for chilaquiles. Ooh, what about using it as a base for tortilla soup?
Came out spicy, smoky and just a tad sweet! It's in a shot glass only for presentation, it's not like I expect you to take the spicy shot! Though, on second thought... That but that brings up a question. When I go to the taco shops I always get extra salsa and love doing shots of it. My friends think this is the weirdest thing ever. Tell me, are there others like me out there? There must be!


  1. those gorditas look pretty tasty : )

  2. Thanks so much for the recipe, we made gorditas tonight and LOVED them :)

  3. Was referred to your blog by another blog for these gorditas. Sounds great....I'm gonna go look for Maseca next time I'm in the store!