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story.lead_photo.caption Steak and Egg Tacos with limes, Roasted Tomato Salsa and Avocado Crema Photo by Thomas Metthe (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Americans love holidays. The why doesn't seem to matter. If it's an excuse for good food and drink and maybe a parade, we love it.

And one of our favorites is Cinco de Mayo — a provincial holiday in Mexico commemorating the Battle of Puebla, where on May 5, 1862, a small Mexican army defeated the French. Although Cinco de Mayo's origins are specific, the day has become a general celebration of Mexican food, drink and culture across the United States.

With the holiday falling on a Sunday this year, we thought it appropriate to celebrate with everybody's favorite meal — brunch. Specifically, breakfast tacos.

Unless otherwise specified, flour or corn tortillas can be used in the following recipes. Local or homemade (see Front Burner for recipes) are best, but national grocery store brands will work, too.

If using store-bought tortillas, for best flavor and texture, heat the tortillas, individually, on a comal or in large skillet on the stovetop for about 30 seconds on each side. Stack and wrap in a tea towel or tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Unlike most avocado crema recipes, this one does not contain dairy or dairy substitutes.

Avocado "Crema"

2 avocados, pitted and peeled

1 small jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Juice of 1 lime

Combine avocado, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice and 2 tablespoons water in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes about 1 cup.

Recipe adapted from Tex Mex: Traditions, Innovations and Comfort Foods From Both Sides of the Border by Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy

Quick Salsa Verde

2 pounds tomatillos, husked and thoroughly rinsed

2 jalapeno or Serrano chiles

2 cloves garlic

½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)

¼ cup coarsely chopped white onion

¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine the tomatillos, chiles and garlic in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover generously. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until tomatillos turn olive green and are tender, but not mushy. Drain.

Transfer the tomatillos and garlic to a blender. Remove the stems from the chiles; set 1 chile aside. Add the other to the blender along with the cilantro, onion and salt. Puree until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed. If you'd like the sauce to be hotter, add all or some of the remaining chile and puree to blend. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Makes about 2 cups.

Recipe adapted from Mexican Today by Pati Jinich

Roasted Tomato Salsa

½ cup olive oil, divided use

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, divided use

2 pounds tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 to 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and cut in half, seeds removed if desired

Salt, to taste

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle half of the garlic over the oil. Arrange tomato slices and jalapeno halves in dish, overlapping as necessary to fit. Season with salt. Scatter the remaining garlic over the tomatoes and jalapeno and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Roast 1 ½ to 2 hours or until tomatoes are shriveled. Cool completely.

Once cool, using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes and jalapenos from dish. Coarsely chop and then combine with the remaining ingredients. Puree if desired. Taste and season with salt and lime juice as needed.

Makes about 2 cups.

Recipe adapted from The Best Mexican Recipes from America's Test Kitchen

This is a loose adaptation of Pati Jinich's recipe for Tacos de Alambre de Carne. We cut the quantity in half and added eggs (and a bit of cumin) to turn these tacos into brunch. To make the original quantity, cook the meat in batches so it gets the appropriate sear.

Steak and Egg Tacos

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

1 poblano chile, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 medium white onion, slivered

1 pound flat-iron steak, cut across the grain into thin strips

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Cumin, to taste

6 eggs

Butter

6 corn or flour tortillas, warmed

Favorite salsa, cilantro, sliced radishes, crumbled or shredded cheese, Avocado Crema or other toppings as desired

In a 12-inch heavy skillet (we used cast iron) heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the poblano and cook, stirring often for 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the peppers and onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Scrape into a bowl.

Return the skillet to heat and add the remaining oil to the pan. Season meat with salt, pepper and cumin to taste. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the beef and let it sear without moving it, until it starts to brown on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes. Cook, stirring, until meat is browned on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes more. Return the onions and peppers to the skillet and cook until thoroughly heated; keep warm.

In a separate skillet, fry or scramble eggs in butter to desired doneness.

Serve meat-vegetable mixture in warm tortillas topped with eggs and desired toppings.

Makes about 6 tacos.

Recipe adapted from Mexican Today by Pati Jinich

Bacon and Potato Breakfast Tacos

2 pounds russet (peeled) or red (scrubbed) potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces

2 teaspoons salt, divided use, plus more to taste

8 ounces thick bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 cup thinly sliced onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, stemmed and minced

Flour or corn tortilla, warmed

½ to 1 cup refried beans, warmed

Desired toppings such as salsa, hot sauce, Avocado Crema or cilantro

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the potatoes, 6 cups water and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 8 minutes. Drain well. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until crispy. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.

Return pan to heat and add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the jalapeno. Cook until onion is tender. Add potatoes and bacon to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Serve in warm tortillas with refried beans and desired toppings.

Makes about 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from The Enchilada Queen Cookbook by Sylvia Casares with Dotty Griffith

Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Tacos
Photo by Thomas Metthe (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Tacos Photo by Thomas Metthe (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Chorizo and Potato Breakfast Tacos

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use, plus more as needed

½ pound shredded hash brown potatoes

Salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lard or shortening, optional

¼ pound fresh chorizo (store-bought or homemade, recipe follows)

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or other favorite melting cheese

4 flour or corn tortillas, warmed

Salsa, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the potatoes and press them into a thin layer with a spatula. Season generously with salt and pepper and fry for 5 minutes or until the bottom browns. Using a spatula, flip the potatoes in several pieces. Fry 4 minutes more or until crisped on both sides. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the now-empty skillet. If using homemade chorizo, add an additional tablespoon of fat — vegetable oil, lard or shortening. Fry chorizo over medium heat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the eggs and gently stir with a rubber spatula until they reach a soft set. Push the eggs to one side of the pan, add the potatoes to the now-empty side. Cook 30 seconds, flip and cook 30 seconds more or until heated through. Carefully fold the potatoes into the eggs, just enough to barely combine them. Top with cheese, remove from heat, cover the pan and set aside for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts.

Serve in warmed tortillas with salsa.

Makes about 4 tacos.

For homemade chorizo: Combine ¼ pound ground pork, ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne), ¾ teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon lard, bacon drippings or shortening in a medium bowl. Mix with your hands until the spices are evenly distributed.

Recipe adapted from The Grand Central Market Cookbook: Cuisine and Culture From Downtown Los Angeles by Adele Yellin and Kevin West

Migas are a flavorful combination of scrambled eggs, onion, chiles, cheese, crunchy tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado.Arkansas Photo by Thomas Metthe (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Migas are a flavorful combination of scrambled eggs, onion, chiles, cheese, crunchy tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado.Arkansas Photo by Thomas Metthe (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Migas

½ cup vegetable oil (see note)

4 to 6 corn tortillas (see note)

Kosher salt

1 small onion, sliced

1 Serrano pepper, stemmed and sliced

8 eggs

1 cup grated Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese

Fresh cilantro

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

Salsa Verde, for serving, optional

Flour tortillas, optional for serving

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a heavy, medium pot over medium-high heat.

Stack the tortillas and cut them into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Separate the pieces and carefully add them to the hot oil. Fry, stirring continuously, until lightly golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fried tortillas to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Immediately sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pot and return the pot to medium heat. Add the onion, Serrano and a generous sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch or two of salt. Add the eggs to the pan and cook, stirring gently, until eggs just begin to set. Add the tortilla chips and cheese; cook, stirring gently until eggs are set, about 1 minute more. Serve immediately with cilantro and avocado. Turn migas into tacos by piling them in flour tortillas, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: For an easier version, reduce oil to 2 tablespoons and substitute a few handfuls store-bought tortilla chips that have been lightly crushed.

Recipe adapted from Tex Mex: Traditions, Innovations and Comfort Foods From Both Sides of the Border by Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy

Food on 05/01/2019

Print Headline: Brunch without borders

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