By Wes Avila
This taco is inspired by the tacos de fideo from Mexico, and a childhood memory. When I was a kid, we used to take leftover spaghetti that my mom would make, warm up a couple tortillas, and enjoy it as an after-school snack. In this recipe, I like to showcase wild mushrooms while staying true to the comfort of having the tacos be a little bit rich and satisfying the way they were when I was young. These tacos do not need any herbs. This is a very home-style taco with really nice ingredients. It should be straightforward, and what you want to taste is the pasta and the cheese. Wild mushrooms are best for this. But you have to clean them very, very well.
Mushroom And Fideo Taco-Recipe
1/4 cup lard
4 cups broken angel hair pasta (roughly 2-inch pieces)
1 pound wild mushrooms, such as morels or chanterelles (see note at bottom)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, pierced with a knife
4 thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, or as desired
2 tbsp cracked black pepper
12 corn toritillas
Salsa Casera for garnishing
Chopped chives for garnishing
4 roma tomatoes
2 serrano chilies, stemmed
4 garlic cloves, peeled
In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt the lard. Add the pasta and brown for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally. This is a home-style way of cooking pasta that I haven’t really seen anyone else do outside of Mexican families. Not all of the noodles will be browned as much as the others but that’s okay.
While you’re browning the pasta, in a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add about 3 tablespoons salt, then add the browned pasta and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until al dente.
Meanwhile, fill the sink with 6 inches of cold water. Add the mushrooms and push them around, rubbing off the dirt and impurities with your fingers. The dirt should sink to the bottom, the mushrooms should bob to the top. Pick up the mushrooms with your hands, drain and clean the sink, and then rinse the mushrooms one more time under running water. Repeat this process a second time. Set the mushrooms on a wire rack. Depending on the size of the mushroom, cut in half or quarters. You want the pieces to be 2 to 3 inches in size because they will shrink as you cook.
In the same pan you used to cooked your noodles, over medium heat, combine the butter and garlic and cook until the garlic is aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, add the thyme, cook for 30 seconds more, and then turn off the heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1⁄4 cup of pasta water to help cook it the rest of the way and incorporate the cheese.
Remove the thyme from the mushrooms and add the pasta and reserved pasta water. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the cheese. Mix thoroughly and add the black pepper. Cook for about 11⁄2 minutes, until it’s a thick mixture of pasta with mushrooms. If it’s too liquidy, just cook longer. Season with salt, and if you want to add more cheese, add more cheese.
Divide the pasta mixture among the tortillas and garnish with a little bit of the salsa casera. Serve immediately.