Sunday 29 September 2013

Corn Cone Tacos with Vegetarian Lentil Filling

Ever since I came across "The Tacone" post, I've been planning my own version.  I loved the concept right away ... I have also had that unfortunate experience of "filling spill" when the hard taco shell broke apart, or the filling simply slipped out the other end.  The cone shape is perfect to keep everything in place until the last bite!

As for my choice of filling, I've been using lentils for my taco filling for many, many years starting back when I was vegetarian.  Although I very much enjoy pulled lamb or fish tacos, I eat this lentil version much more often as it is so simple to make.  The cone is also simple, but took more than a few experiments to figure out how to do it properly.  Unlike DudeFoods who actually bake their own cone using a waffle maker, I used a store-purchased corn tortilla as the starting point.  My homemade corn tortillas tend to come out a bit puffier and I needed something thinner to make the cone with, so I used Dempster's corn tortillas - not that easy to find in stores so I stock up when I find them and keep them in the freezer.

Making the Cone:
I used some butcher's twine to hold the tortilla in its rolled up cone shape then used some toothpicks in the bottom. I did not want the bottom to widen during cooking.  It's important to use the freshest tortillas on hand; my first attempt was with a tortilla that had been in the fridge a few days and it cracked.

Next step was to coat with a spray cooking oil.  The biggest challenge was how to maintain the cone shape during cooking ("cooking" by the way is about one minute in the microwave until it hardens).

First I tried resting the unbaked cone in a coffee mug.  The problem is that the cone actually softens first before it begins to harden so it collapsed into the mug (and I microwaved it a bit too long and it burnt).

Then I decided to use my silicone garlic peeler - I can't say I use it much, but there it was in my kitchen drawer.  But it did not hold the shape, and I was still a bit worried about using it in the microwave.

And that's when I saw the tube from a roll of paper towels on my counter.  I cut it so that it could be shaped into a cone and ... success!!  I made several in a row with no problems.

Final Cone Instructions:

(1) Form cone, tie with butcher's twine and use toothpicks as needed to hold bottom together;

(2) spray with cooking oil;

(3) insert formed cardboard tube to maintain shape;

(4) microwave for approximately one minute;

(5) remove immediately from microwave and take out the tube to keep it from sticking;

(6) if not crunchy enough, pop into microwave for another 10 seconds or so but the tortilla will burn if cooked too long.

Taking the advice of DudesFood, I tossed my filling ingredients in a bowl before stuffing into the cone to ensure a bit of everything in each bite.  BUT ... I did stuff a small piece of lettuce into the bottom first just to be absolutely sure of no drips.  The cone will only take about 2/3 of a cup of total ingredients.  I prefer to add the lentils last as they'll wilt the lettuce if added too soon.

Taco Filling:
Canned Lentils (two cans will easily serve 4 people)
Taco Seasoning (see below for recipe or just use a store-bought package)
Lettuce, sliced or chopped
Salsa and/or Hot Sauce
Sour Cream
Avocados, sliced (or make guacamole)
Cheese, grated

Drain and rinse the lentils, place in a sauce pan.  Add seasoning to taste, depending on how spicy you like it.  I used about 2 Tbsp for one can of lentils, plus 1-2 Tbsp of water to keep the lentils from drying out. Then just heat up, it's that simple.

Toss your favourite selections together with the hot lentils, scoop into your cone and enjoy.

Taco Seasoning:
This recipe comes straight from "Taco Seasoning 1".  With 2975 reviews and 5 stars, it's obviously pretty good and I didn't make any changes other than to reduce the salt and pepper, and quadruple the total recipe as it made very little, and who wants to make this up every time you have tacos?

In a mason jar (for storing extras), combine all ingredients.

4 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
6 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt (original recipe called for twice this much)
2 tsp black pepper (again, original recipe called for twice this much)

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