Living the gluten-free lifestyle isn’t easy — wheat, or, more specifically,gluten is found in a wide range of processed food products: bread, soups, most snack foods, worchestire sauce. Worchestire sauce? Yes, worchestire sauce. Since both my mother and daughter have this food allergy, we spend a lot of time together exchanging recipes and sources of supply.
There are replacement products, but some things just aren’t the same. My mother would die for an Oreo cookie. (More precisely, she’d get very ill. ) The Little Admiral just wants to be able to go out to a restaurant and order something without a lengthy conversation with the waiter.
So, imagine our joy when we went to the Cheesecake Factory in St. Louis last month and discovered that not only did our server understand what a gluten allergy is, but was able to recite a list of dishes that are safe or can be adapted to be safe.
First on the list: the Godiva chocolate cheesecake. Heaven. If there’s only one cheesecake a girl can eat, that should be it.
But first, a meal. The Admiral chose the chicken tacos wrapped in corn tortillas and a side dish of spinach in place of the beans (yes, refried beans may have wheat flour in them as a thickener.) More than merely adequate, these tacos were flavorful and the corn tortillas held together to the last bite. The only “disappointment” in the meal was that we were too full for cheesecake!
After putting our heads together, the Admiral and I have come up with a close approximation of these tacos and they are now a weekly feature on the menu at Force Majeure Farm. The key to success is the preparation of the tortillas — if you don’t like this filling, substitute your own.
Gluten-free Chicken Tacos with Corn Tortillas
Ingredients (be sure to double-check labels for ingredients):
2 packages corn tortillas
1 package grilled chicken pieces
4 TB vegetable oil
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tomato (or fresh pico de gallo)
2 cups shredded lettuce
gluten-free Thousand Island dressing
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Prep: Finely dice the tomato, grate the cheese, and shred the lettuce. Place the tomatoes in a small bowl and add olive oil and salt. Dice the chicken — the finer the better. Pour gluten-free Thousand Island dressing into a small bowl — plan on 1TB per taco.
Chicken: Pour 1-2 TB into a heated skillet. Add the chicken, heat through, and keep warm.
Tortillas: a seasoned cast iron skillet or griddle will yield best results. Heat the skillet and add 1TB oil. Add tortillas two at a time (it’s ok to overlap) and heat until the tortillas are flexible and lightly browned. DO NOT overcook. Stack the tortillas, fold in half, and place on a plate with a paper towel underneath to absorb excess oil. This way, as the tortillas cool they will conform to the final shape. By using two tortillas for each taco, the end result is a stronger shell that is less likely to tear apart as you eat it. If you are making a lot of tortillas, you may want to keep the plate of prepared shells in a warm oven.
Assembly: In each shell, add in order: one tablespoon of chicken, one teaspoon of cheese, and lettuce. Add shredded lettuce, pour 1 TB of dressing over the mixture, and top with the tomato or pico de gallo.
Makes 10 tacos. Serve with cheesecake.