Taquito Tuesday with Elk Linguica
Several years back, my husband latched onto the idea of eating elk meat, because he is super health conscious and elk is a very lean red meat. We would order it from an outfit in Colorado that supplied elk, venison, and antelope. Over time, he realized that if he was going to eat it, he would sign up for the hunt, so that he could really work for his bounty! And so, my heretofore non-hunter husband and sons evolved into hunters. I was not a fan at first, but over time, I also gradually came to like elk and venison. Still not a fan of antelope! But, the elk and venison are not gamy at all, so they are a great, healthy substitute for beef.
Fast forward and nowadays we have plenty of elk in the freezer! When they took last year’s game to the meat processor, he came up with some creative sausage meats and we had not only Hot Italian and Chorizo elk sausage but two new varieties – Maple and Linguica, a Portuguese sausage made with lots of paprika and garlic.
Now, one of the things I absolutely love about being an avid home cook is when my kids take the reins and start concocting new recipes of their own. It’s so rewarding and makes me so happy to see them being creative in the kitchen and sharing homemade fare around their dining room tables. Our son, Joel (aka Paky or Paquito) invites us over for theme dinners and one of those was Taquito Tuesday. Well, not only taquitos, but his famous margaritas to go along with them! Beware, they are dangerous!
He makes his taquitos with the elk linguica sausage rolled into flour tortillas and they are out of this world delicious! He slow-cooks them on the cast iron griddle over the barbecue flame and they come out just as if they were deep-fried, only much healthier, since he simply grills them with a little olive oil. But the long, slow cooking gives them the same crunch you’d get from deep frying.
Because you may not have access to elk or linguica, we’ve included a recipe for making your own linguica and you can make the sausage with any meat you like from ground pork or beef to elk or even bison, wild boar or turkey. We don’t stuff it into casings, since we use it rolled up in the taquitos, but if you want to go that route, you could definitely get some casings and have a full day of it, making the sausages and then smoking them in your smoker! I feel like every hunter has a smoker somewhere visible in the back yard! Those two activities go hand in hand!
Elk Linguica Taquitos
Making your own linguica sausage:
- 1.5 pounds of ground meat a sausage grind is preferable, but not necessary for the taquitos
- 2 tablespoons olive oil can incorporate finely chopped or ground meat fat here, but we use olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 sprigs fresh (leaves minced and stems discarded)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or 2 sprigs fresh marjoram (leaves minced and stems discarded)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons red wine if using a Portuguese wine, all the better
To Make Taquitos
- 1.5 pounds linguica sausage
- 1/2 cup finely diced Ortega chilies
- 1/4 cup poblano peppers finely diced
- 1/3 cup cilantro finely snipped
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 cup grated mixed Mexican cheese
- 10 7- inch flour tortillas can use any size tortillas here, but just adjust filling to each tortilla accordingly
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Olive oil PAM
Garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, guacamole and salsa
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Now, you can either stuff into casings and smoke them or just use the meat mixture as is for the main ingredient in the taquito filling.
- Mix all of the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Divide into 10 small balls and shape each of those into a log the same length as the diameter of your tortillas.
- Place filling logs in the center of each tortilla and tightly wrap the tortilla around the filling. Place a cast-iron griddle over your barbecue or on top of the burners on your stove. Preheat the griddle over medium-low heat. Spray griddle with olive oil Pam or brush lightly with olive oil.
- Place taquitos on the griddle and cook for about 16 minutes over low heat, turning four times to brown each side. Now, turn up the heat just slightly, to medium-low, and lightly brush the griddle with olive oil.
- This next step takes requires some patience, because it’s smelling so yummy and you’re getting really hungry! But, continue cooking the taquitos until they become nice and crispy, just as if you had fried them. This process probably takes another 20 minutes or so, but you want to cook them slowly and turn them every so often in order to get the beautiful golden-brown crunchiness we all love in our taquitos.
- Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs and serve with guacamole and your favorite salsa!