Sunday, July 14, 2013

Puffy Does It

If you know anything about San Antonio, you know it's a charming city rich with history.  Of course it's known for the Alamo and the historical events surrounding that fateful day in 1836.  The city is mixed with modern buildings and historical old mission buildings.  It's truly a beautiful place to visit.  My husband and I plan to move to the San Antonio area after the kids are grown.

But another great thing about San Antonio is the food.  Chili was invented there during the 1800s when "Chile Queens," who were women that emigrated from the Spanish Canary Islands, set up stands in town and served Chile con Carne. This Chile con Carne later evolved into what has become chili in Texas.  (I'm sure my latter comment will open up a debate, but I'm standing my ground on that one.)

Yet another San Antonio great is the Puffy Taco.  In 1978, a man named Henry Lopez opened up Henry's Puffy Tacos.  If you've never had one, you're missing out.  Tacos are amazing on their own, but in a homemade puffed-up corn tortilla, they're divine.  The traditional way to fill a puffy taco is with the classic Tex-Mex flavors of seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and salsa.  But I made these with the most amazing shredded chicken filling ever.  It's so good that my son ate them leftover for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  They were so good, in fact, that my husband wanted to fry more puffy taco shells the day after that to eat the leftover chicken.  That's how good they are.

One last note about the chicken.  I use something called El Pato, which is a Mexican hot style tomato sauce.  If you can find El Pato, absolutely use it.  If you can't find it, use regular tomato sauce and spice it up with some cayenne pepper or red chili flakes or even chopped up serranos or jalapenos.

Are you ready for Puffy?

1 lb shredded, cooked chicken
One 7 3/4 ounce can El Pato (or tomato sauce)
One 4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 C chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin

2 C dry masa (corn flour)
1 to 1 1/2 C warm chicken stock
Peanut oil (for frying)

Chopped lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced avocados

Make the chicken filling first.  Drizzle some olive oil into a large skillet and cook the onion until tender.  Add in the El Pato, green chilies, chicken, garlic, chicken stock, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook over medium high heat until most of the liquid is cooked out.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the masa with 1 C chicken stock.  You should be able to form the dough into a ball.  If it's too dry, add in more chicken stock.  Divide the dough into 12 equal balls.  Keep the dough covered with a damp towel until ready to press and fry. Preheat the peanut oil to 350 degrees.

You will need to use two pieces of plastic (like a gallon-size zipper bag with the sides split down) sprayed with nonstick spray to roll out the dough or to press into a tortilla press. Roll or press one ball between the plastic into about a 5-inch circle.  Only press and cook one at a time. Gently remove the tortilla from the plastic and slide it into the oil.  Cook the tortilla on one side for about 20 seconds.  Flip it over to the other side and let it puff up.  Once it's puffed, take a spatula and push down in the center of the tortilla to make the dent. Hold it in place with the spatula until the taco shell is crispy. Drain and repeat.

Fill your tacos with the chicken and your desired toppings.


  1. Yum! You make tortillas sound easy enough for me to try, I am always intimidated by the process.
    and- I love knowing the history of the food I serve! Thanks! :D

    1. Thank you so much! Tortillas are a daunting task, and it may take a couple broken ones to get the hang of it. Just remember to spray the plastic in between each one and handle it gently! Hope it works out for you!

  2. My husband was born and raised in San Antonio and I lived there for 13 years. You're absolutely right on all points! Chili in any other part of the world just doesn't hold a candle. Henry's puffy tacos was one of our regular nights out. Going to try this recipe this weekend!!

  3. I was born and raised in San Antonio, and moved to Corpus Christi, about 3 years ago, the first time I tried a Mexican Restaurant and asked for Puffy Tacos, they look at me like I was crazy, they didn't even know what they were. You would think I'm in Texas only 2 hours from SA, and they don't know what a Puffy Taco is.....when I did find a restaurant that had them, they were nasty. Miss my home town...