Tortitas de Carne Deshebrada en Caldo is a recipe that was adapted from my abuelita Sara. For many years now, my sister and I have been toying with the idea of writing a family cookbook. In one of our many conversations, I expressed how I wished to have been able to learn more of my grandmother’s recipes. Her cooking style was simple, always prepared with fresh ingredients and served in a simple manner. The scribbled note I wrote for this recipe was lost for a while until recently. From my sister Cristela’s memory of the soup, she described a torta (fritter) prepared with the same batter used for chiles rellenos that was filled with shredded beef. It was served in a warm beef broth with a little added rice. I can imagine it served with warm corn tortillas and garnished with fresh lime and diced chile serrano. Delicious! For this version, I added a few more ingredients to the soup base, which was the soup base my Mom used to prepared for her caldo de albondigas. Now everytime I prepare any shredded beef recipe, I will save some for this tasty recipe. I can still envision those milk glass soup bowls with the red trim and the red table in my abuela’s kitchen, the sounds of chickens and cows in the distance….
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 chile de arbol
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 roma tomatoes, diced
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro chopped, plus more for garnish
5 cups homemade beef or chicken broth
*This recipe is best when prepared with homemade beef broth from cooking the beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound cooked shredded beef
1 tablespoon of flour
4 large eggs, separate yolks from whites
1. Preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and serrano and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chile de arbol, garlic, cumin seeds and oregano and cook for another minutes. Add the remaining ingredients for soup base. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep soup on lowest heat setting just to keep warm.
2. To prepare the tortitas: In a skillet, preheat 1 1/2 cups of oil to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. In a large bowl, add the egg whites. With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, add in the yolks and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the shredded beef.
3. Using a large spoon, ladle in about 1/4 cup of the beef/egg mixture into hot oil. Fry 2 tortitas at a time for about 2 minutes, turning halfway through cooking times or until golden brown. Drain onto a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all the tortitas are done. Yields 8 tortitas. Divide the caldo into 4 large bowls, add two tortitas, garnish with cilantro, avocado and lemon. Yields 4 servings.