Puffy tacos are a delectable Tex-Mex treat. Imagine a typical taco, but in a crunchy yet light, airy and flaky "puffed up" shell. Fill it with anything you want, whether that's the typical Tex-Mex taco filling (picadillo, diced tomato, lettuce, cheese) or something more idiosyncratic.
For many food fans outside Texas, their first sight of puffy tacos came on an episode of the Bobby Flay/Food Network series "Throwdown," in which Chef Flay "battled" against San Antonio restaurateur Diana Barrios in a puffy taco throwdown. Barrios won, and the recipe she used to make the shells is linked down below in the "How do you make the taco shells puffy?" section.
Where Did Puffy Tacos Originate?
Puffy tacos are generally believed to have originated in the Tex-Mex joints of San Antonio, Texas. The most commonly cited origin story - at least when cited by those outside San Antonio - is that they were invented at a San Antonio establishment called Henry's Puffy Tacos in 1978. Henry's is still around, and its Website proclaims it "home of the original puffy tacos."
However, in San Antonio, most people know better. Henry's like to claim credit, and maybe Henry's played an important role in popularizing the puffy taco. But is its origin claim fact or legend?
See "Who invented the puffy taco?" for discussion and memories of San Antonians.
How Do You Make the Taco Shell Puffy?
Cooks start with fresh, uncooked masa tortillas. The tortillas are dropped into hot oil, and in the 30 to 45 seconds of cooking time, they "puff up" (almost as if the tortilla is being inflated). The cook pushes down in the middle of the puffed-up tortilla, creating a "valley" down the middle to give the tortilla its puffy taco-shell shape. The puffy taco shell is drained and it's ready for stuffing.
Want to make your own puffy tacos? Here are a couple primers on cooking the shells:
Making the Shells - Recipe 1
This is the Diana Barrios recipe that she used on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." View recipe
Making the Shells - Recipe 2
The blog "Homesick Texan" has an excellent entry on puffy tacos. Scroll to the bottom for instructions on making the shells. View the post
Making the Shells - Recipe 3
And here's one more recipe for puffy up the masa tortilla shell. View the recipe
Puffy Taco Recipes
Here are recipes for puffy tacos that focus on the filling:
- Yucatan chicken puffy tacos with peanut-red chili barbecue sauce (note: This is the taco Bobby Flay made in the "Throwdown" episode)
- Shredded chicken puffy tacos
- Puffy tacos (Texas Highways Magazine)
- Puffy tacos (Saveur magazine)
- Puffy tacos stuffed with ground beef
If you know of other puffy taco recipes on the Web, drop us a line at safellow - at - yahoo - dot - com.