Culture

Chipotle Is Expanding Its Menu Options For A Limited Time Only, They’re Adding Carne Asada To Stores Nationwide

Word on the street is that Chipotle has added a new source of protein to its menu for the first time in a year. According to CNN Business, Chipotle is rolling out carne asada for a limited time at its more than 2,000 stores in the United States. 

The real question here is, however, is it better than the carne asada at your tio’s BBQ on Sunday’s? Guess we’ll have to read the reviews and try it out for ourselves.

According to CNN Business, the carne asada option was tested in three American cities over the past year and the company states that it was received “incredibly well.” Chipotle also said that it approved the new addition to steak for three popular diets that you might have heard of recently — ketogenic, Paleo, and Whole 30. 

Here we thought Chipotle was simply trying to cater more to their Latinx consumers, but alright, we see you. 

Since news broke that Chipotle would now be serving carne asada, Twitter had some thoughts. Some positive, some negative, and others downright hilarious.

If you’re a member of Chipotle’s app-based rewards program then you were most likely one of the first to receive notification about the new menu item, and if you’re not — don’t worry, because carne asada is already available for you to order.

However, before we dive in @VidaByJen on Twitter is asking the REAL question on our minds.

Can guac just be free now? Please. Thanks.

Twitter users were also quick to publicize their own personal reviews of what the carne asada was like.

One Twitter user said that “upon first bite the difference in flavor from the regular steak is noticeable.” But in the larger scheme of things, it doesn’t have a noticeably significant effect on taste. The reviewer then went on to say that the carne asada “comes in bigger pieces than the regular steak” making it “difficult to bite into and chew.” Well, the Latino community is used to that, but fair point. 

The bottom line? The carne asada “is tasty but not a huge game changer especially if you typically order steak.” The price point is also a bit higher, so she said she would “not recommend it to a friend.” Welp, there you have it. 

Another Twitter user pointed out the obvious, the carne asada is just steak cut into long strips but go off Chipotle.

Don’t @ us!

One Twitter user said that Chipotle was playing y’all, “you know they already had steak. They’re just adding a lil lime and calling it carne asada.” 

Hmmm, where’s the lie? 

However, these facts still didn’t dissuade anyone from being excited. 

We’ll let them have this one. But y’all should get invited to a BBQ instead of spending your coins at Chipotle, tbh.

Chipotle also spoke up when asked exactly what the difference is between carne asada and steak.

A twitter user asked “what’s the difference between this and regular steak?” To which Chipotle replied, “The original steak is marinated in adobo sauce so this lime and cilantro Carne Asada recipe adds a whole new flavor profile to the protein.” See, the previous Twitter user was onto something. 

Even with Chipotle’s transparency, people are still not believing it.

We’ve been led astray! Carne asada IS steak. 

Someone who may or may not be a Chipotle employee also tweeted that “the amount of times we’re all gonna have to explain the difference” is going to be tired.

We feel ya, but good luck girl! 

Kat Thompson of Thrillist also reviewed Chipotle’s new carne asada addition. Here’s what she had to say: 

Did the carne asada turn out to be better than the steak? “This is something I’ve been going back and forth on. Would this new version of steak replace my beloved cubes? And the conclusion I’ve come to… is no,” Thompson wrote. Although the carne asada was delicious, she still found herself craving and thinking about the steak cubes. 

Despite the steak cubes fairing better in her experience, she still thought the carne asada addition was a great idea. “The acidity of the lime is welcomed, and perhaps the protein would function better in a taco — where it wouldn’t be lost amongst the pool of rice, beans, and salsas,” Thompson wrote. 

Will you be trying Chipotle’s new carne asada? Let us know in the comments below! 

LA’s Evil Cooks Has Introduced A Flan Taco And The Internet Definitely Has Some Feelings About It

Culture

LA’s Evil Cooks Has Introduced A Flan Taco And The Internet Definitely Has Some Feelings About It

@lataco / Twitter

The taco is such a beloved culinary treasure because of its versatility. The formula is pretty simple and straight-forward: tortilla, meat and toppings. You can eat it at any time of day; morning, noon and late night. And you can stuff anything in there. You have your fish tacos, your breakfast tacos, savory tacos and vegan tacos. Now without further ado, we present you with the dessert taco you didn’t know you needed, the sweet taco.

Yeah, yeah, the idea of a sweet version of the Mexican classic might make you cringe a little, but hear us out—this one’s worth it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re into carnitas, birria, suadero, or pastor, we promise you, if you love tacos and you love flan, this bad boy is all you need for dessert. 

The flan taco comes to you courtesy of Balam Kitchen a taco haven in Lynwood, and  Evil Cooks, an LA Chicano kitchen pop up duo by Alex Garcia aka Pobre Diablo and Elvia Huerta, La Bruja. Needless to say that the collaboration brought the big guns to Taco Madness—LA’s longest running Taco Festival—with their unconventional creation this year.

Taco lovers waited in long lines to try the best of all nine taquerías featured at the festival.

But all we keep hearing about, months after the debut of this creative invention in May, is the ‘flan taco’ and how obsessed everyone is with it.

Garcia, former chef at Pomona’s Mexican restaurant, Dia De Los Puercos, wanted to create a sweet taco, and what better Mexican dessert to use for his invention than the classic custard and caramel delight that everyone loves: flan. Sticking to the original recipe for the flan, he decided to use ‘tuile’ for the tortilla. Tuile is a baked wafer similar to that used for Chinese fortune cookies. He added corn masa to make it pliable like any good tortilla should be, and voila! The result was a sweet tortilla, similar to a pancake or a crepe. 

The classic milk-based flan was infused with citrus and coconut, and it sits atop the innovative fortune cookie-style tortilla. What about the toppings, you might ask? Nothing short of an explosion of flavor: mint, a twist of orange and, drumroll please, crushed Polvorones. Yes that’s right, the classic orange-flavored cookies abuelos all over Mexico have been dunking in their coffees since time immemorial. 

La Bruja’, the name they gave to their flan taco, embodies Huerta and Garcia’s rich yet opposing personalities.

Both sweet and savory, unexpected and provocative. Garcia was born into a family of bakers in Queretaro, Mexico. He moved to the US when he was 14 and has since held several jobs in the food industry, from dish washer to Chef. Huerta is originally from El Sereno and enrolled in culinary school at a young age. She has been a cook at UCLA for over a decade, where she’s gotten used to cooking with massive quantities. 

Despite their vastly different backgrounds and experiences with food, they agree that what they create at Evil Cooks is “the food of their childhoods”.

“We want people to taste our food and be reminded of home,” says Garcia. The sweet concoction had taco-lovers so impressed that Zach Brooks, general manager of Smorgasburg LA, called it “a plated dessert you’d find at the best Mexican restaurant in the city”, next thing you know, he offered Balam Taco x Evil Cooks, an eight week residency at the Smorg’s Ice Cream Alley. 

Keep up with the nomadic pop-up to try the flan taco and some of their other unique creations. Evil Cooks’ itinerant menu changes fairly often, and always includes innovative takes on Mexican classics, like a chilaquiles breakfast burrito, fideo taco (complete with queso fresco and crema), shell crab tacos and more, tortas, gorditas, and more.

Don’t miss Balam Kitchen’s chicano food in Lynwood. Evil Cooks pops up weekly at various spots in LA. Find them at Sara’s Market, El Café by Primera Taza and Smorgasburg. They also cater private events and gigs.

This Traditional Mexican Ingredient Is Ending Up On More And More Menus In The US But Do You Know What It Is?

Culture

This Traditional Mexican Ingredient Is Ending Up On More And More Menus In The US But Do You Know What It Is?

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Corn smut, fungus, Mexican truffle — these are just some of the aliases of huitlacoche(pronounced whee-tla-KOH-cheh). But what exactly is this soft, spreadable and dark-as-night ingredient? In simple terms, it’s a plant disease (yes, it’s a parasite) that grows on ears of corn around the kernels in puffy, gray clouds that look kind of like river stones. But when you take this strange fungus into the culinary world, huitlacoche becomes a delicacy used in all sorts of dishes from soups to enchiladas to sauces.

This is an ingredient that Indigenous people have been working with for centuries but as it becomes more common on menus across the US, people are wondering what exactly it is.

Yes, it’s even referred to as the Mexican truffle.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Because it’s technically a fungus, much like the ultra expensive truffle, many restaurants – especially upscale ones – across the US are truing to market it as a truffle. Sure. Whatever floats your boat. 

So where is this Mexican delicacy from, exactly?

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

The name huitlacoche is Nahuatl, which is the language of the Aztecs still spoken by more than a million people in Central Mexico today. Utilizing this ingredient also dates back to this time. Corn, or maize, was a staple in the Aztecs’ diet, and they used the corn fungus mainly in tamales and stews.

The Native American Hopi and Zuni tribes have also worked with huitlacoche from the get-go. The former called the fungus “nanha,” and the latter held the ingredient in such high standing they say it symbolized the “generation of life.” In fact, huitlacoche has been an important food for indigenous peoples of the Southwest for centuries. So much so that the fungus has ceremonial, culinary and medicinal uses. As far as the healthfulness aspect is concerned, huitlacoche offers more protein than regular corn and has high amounts of lysine, an essential amino acid not found in normal kernels.

Nowadays, chefs are popularizing this once lesser known ingredient in restaurants from LA to NYC.  

Credit: Rosa Mexicano / Screenshot

Of course, as they say, an ingredient could be used for thousands of years by a certain culture but once the white folk ‘discover’ it, it’s said to have gone mainstream. Although it’s true that many US-based chefs are cooking with huitlacoche, it’s still predominantly an ingredient you’ll only find in Mexican driven kitchens. 

Ok, where can I get it? 

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Huitlacoche can be bought at most Mexican food specialty stores and comes frozen, jarred or canned. Since you don’t have to strip the corn of the fungus, using huitlacoche in this way proves pretty easy and requires little to no prep. If you do happen upon it fresh, pick the spores when they are light gray in color on the outside and have a spongy texture. Firm samples are overripe and bitter. For a superior earthy-corn taste, go for huitlacoche that forms on the ears, not the stalk. Occasionally, you may find this ideal huitlacoche at a farmers’ market

Now, I’ve got it. What can I do with it?

Since it’s technically a vegetable, you can use it raw. And because it’s a soft fungus, you don’t have to worry about chopping, pureeing or shredding, especially if you get it in a can or frozen. If you do manage to source some fresh huitlacoche, first thank the corn gods, then throw it into dishes whole, or delicately tear it apart with your fingers. Don’t be surprised when the gray fungus turns black with heat — this is a signature characteristic of the ingredient and the reason why many dishes that contain huitlacoche have a dark hue.

At the Rosa Mexicana chain, executive regional chef Joe Quintana says the ingredient goes with so many things, you will have no trouble finding a way to play with it: “Huitlacoche has many uses, and its earthy flavor gives you options to put it into dishes as well as sauces.” At the restaurants, he has paired it with chicken, beef and, surprise, more corn! He also says it goes particularly well with cheese, especially in quesadillas. In a way, you can think of pairing huitlacoche with items that you would normally add mushrooms to, and beyond

Here are some of our favorite uses for this delightfully tasty ingredient. 

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Quesadillas de huitlacoche are a go-to on the streets of Mexico City and the earthy flavor of huitlacoche (which also somehow tastes similar to corn) pairs perfectly with the fried masa and salsas. Remember, in Mexico City quesadillas don’t traditionally come with cheese – you have to ask if you want ‘em cheesy. 

You can also throw huitlacoche on top of a sope.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Sopes were built to showcase the flavor of its toppings, which make them the perfect vessel for huitlacoche. 

Or in a gordita. 

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Paired with the crisp dough of a gordita, the flavor of the huitlacoche is allowed to shine through and I couldn’t be happier when I eat a huitlacoche gordita. 

They also make an amazing filling for enchiladas. 

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Because of their rich, earthy flavor, enchiladas de huitlacoche are often served bathed in a rich mole sauce. Seriously, one of my favorite go-to dishes. It’s rich and kinda heavy but you don’t regret a thing. Get a super good recipe here.