Tuesday, February 28, marked the finale of Tacbar's I Love Tacos series. Closing out the month-long event was guest Chef Andre Sewell, who after last week's plant-based night, brought us a new way to experience the Jamaican Cheese Patty as well as, a taste of Morocco to Tacbar.
Dominating the Tacbar grill, Chef Sewell first treated patrons to a popular taste of the island with his Jamaican Cheese Patty Taco which was married with the signature Tom Collins cocktail. Next on the culinary fanatic's menu was the Moroccan Soft Shell Taco also paired with the signature Tom Collins cocktail.
For the month of February Thursday Food joined the Tacbar team and their weekly guest chefs for a shell-ebration of tacos. Along with Chef Andre Sewell, engaging patron's palates with new and exciting tastes each week were Chef Alex D-Great, Pink Apron's Charissa Skyers-Henry and Stush In Bush's Lisa and Chris Binns.
Met with an overwhelming turnout and good vibes every Tuesday, many have shared their anticipation for another I Love Tacos series. Until then, let's hop into the kitchen to recreate Chef Sewell's signature delicious tacos!
Jamaican Cheese Patty Taco
This one is an amalgamation of two of Jamaica's favourite things â€” fried boiled dumplings and the Jamaican beef patty.
Step 1: I made a few tightly kneaded dumpling dough. Left it to rest for 1 hour, rolled it out about 1/4" thick, then cut rounds out of them.
I boiled the round dumplings as usual, except that they required only about 1/4 of the cooking time.
I then removed them from the water and refrigerated until cool
They were then folded into a taco shape with a toothpick or 2 driven through each of them; then deep fried for a few minutes. Please see the full process on my Instagram page, @andre.cooks for a visual representation.
For the cheese patty filling, we took some beef and oxtail bones with a little meat left on them. A flavourful stock was made from those bones, with a bunch of local aromatics. We separated and grounded the meat before adding the beef mince. The beef stock was then simmered until about 70 per cent of the water evaporated and we used that to make an insanely rich and velvety sauce called a 'demi-glace'. This process of just the sauce alone, takes 12-24 hours, from start to finish.
The beef mince and reserved meats are then seasoned, seared in the oxtail fat that is separated from the stock and then simmered in the demi-glace for 3-4 hours. The end result is a patty filling that is luxurious and flavourful and coats your tongue like no other. We also roasted a couple dozen heads of garlic, made a puree from them and added it to a multi-cheese mornay sauce (cheese sauce). The assembly is dumpling taco, beef filling, cheese sauce and pickled onions and scallions; to help to balance out the richness.
Moroccan Soft Shell Taco
I made multiple elements of this dish for last year's staging of the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival. Picante was the event, which had a Moroccan theme. I combined flavours from the Moroccan spice palate to season chicken thighs, which I then smoked over oakwood.
It's topped with a warm Moroccan salad/salsa, called taktouka, which brings some heat, acidity and herbaceousness to the dish. I included some of my ripe plantain butter to balance things out with some sweetness. Below is a simplified version of the chicken and the taktouka:
2 lbs chicken thighs
3 tsp All Purpose Seasoning
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sumac (optional)
Combine all the seasonings and marinate chicken for 4 hours or more.
Grill on both sides, until cooked through.
2 large sweet peppers, diced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 tomatoes, diced
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced salt to taste
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
Cook onion, garlic and Scotch bonnet for 2 minutes until soft.
Add cumin and paprika and cook for another minute.
Add all remaining ingredients, except parsley and cilantro.
Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until soft.
Remove from heat, stir in chopped parsley and cilantro.
Tom Collins Cocktail Mix
2 oz Gin
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.75 oz lime juice
Topped off with Club Soda
Garnished with dehydrated lime
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