~ "Yes Virginia, there is a thing called a Taco Ring!" (One of my "I can't believe I'm posting this posts".) ~
"Count me in, I'll give it a try." That's what I said on Facebook last week. It's what I agreed to do, and I'm doing it. I'm making a taco ring today. Here's how it came down: One of my hungry guy foodie friends, Jaqmes, posted a photo with a link to a recipe for a taco ring. Cocktail-connoisseur friend, Jill, said she'd made it and it was quite good, especially if washed down with a six-pack of Corona. For a moment, I thought Jill's cheese slid of her cracker and landed in the deep-end of her pilsner. The thread continued. Kendra, who's is loving learning to bake bread, and pastry-chef Teresa chimed in too. In the end, at Jill's behest, we agreed that perhaps we should all forget our food-savvy pre-conceived notions for one afternoon and make a taco ring -- and post our experiences on Facebook. After all, we are all in this food world together!
With my ingredients list in hand, my trip to and through the Weis market was stealth. I went mid-morning to avoid the crowds, made eye contact with no one, and, kept my packet of taco seasoning mix strategically hidden underneath a small box of tomatoes. This wasn't my first rodeo -- I've used Pillsbury crescent rolls before. Debit card in hand I made it through the express checkout without incident. I arrived home, removed my babushka, screwed the real license plate back on my car, mixed myself a cocktail and Reddi'd myself to rock and roll.
Note: I've added a few things to this recipe because I am food savvy and do have pre-conceived notions. They are each marked with an asterisk (*). Feel free to omit them.
2 8-ounce tubes crescent rolls
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 pound sweet sausage*
1 cup diced yellow onion*
1-ounce packet taco seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin*
3/4-1 cup shredded cheddar
no-stick cooking spray
iceberg lettuce, grape tomatoes, black olives, additional cheddar, Wish-Bone Lite-Italian dressing
~ Step 1. Place the ground meat, sausage and diced onion in a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan. Over medium-high heat, saute until meats are cooked through, stirring almost constantly, using a spatula to break them up into small pieces as they cook, about 10 minutes.
~ Step 2. Tilt the pan on an angle. Using a small ladle, remove and discard all of the fat and liquid from the bottom of the pan.
~ Step 3. Stir in the taco seasoning and cumin, followed by the refried beans. The beans hold the meats together, and, I stirred 2 tablespoons of water into 1/2 cup of beans to make them extra creamy.
Note: I own a couple of fancy schmancy 11 1/2" French porcelain trays (oven/broiler fridge/freezer safe), so, I'm skipping the foil and just spraying one of them with cooking spray.
~ Step 5. It's finally time for a geography lesson: North, East, South and West. Open the first tube of crescent rolls, unroll them, and, use a sharp knife to separate them so there are no ragged edges. Place four pieces of dough on the pan, as pictured, at points N, E, S and W. Place four more on the pan, at points NE, SE, SW and NW. Open the second tube and place the next eight at all points in between.
~ Step 6. Using a 2" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place 8 scoops of firmly-packed meat mixture on the widest part of every other piece of dough. Trade in your scoop for an ordinary tablespoon and fill in the open spaces with all of the remaining meat mixture. Once you see how it's done, it's oh so easy!
~ Step 7. Sprinkle 3/4-1 cup of grated cheese over the meat, picking up any stray pieces that fall onto the pan. One at a time, lift the pointed pieces of dough over the top, and tuck them underneath the center. Using the palm of your hand and a light touch, apply a bit of pressure across the top of the ring to make sure the dough, the cheese and meat are all "kind of" adhered together.
Here's the big picture, all ready for the oven:
~ Step 8. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes. Dough will be golden brown, cheese will be melted and meat will be bubbly. Remove from oven and place pan on a cooling rack to cool 30-60 minutes prior to serving warm or at room temperature.
Here's the big picture, just out of the oven:
~ Step 9. Place a shallow bowl in the center of the ring -- or don't. The rest of this appetizer recipe is arbitrary: fill the center with your favorite concoction of Tex-Mex salad ingredients or salsa, or a dip like guacamole, and, don't forget the beer, lot's of beer because:
Taco ring rocks -- & so does my fun group of foodie FB friends!!!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; spatula; small ladle; standard-sized 11 1/2" pizza pan; aluminum foil; 2" ice-cream scoop; tablespoon
Cook's Note: I told you this wasn't my first rodeo. I grew up loving these now retro appetizers. You can find ~ The "I Can't Believe I'm Posting this Recipe" Post: Cocktail Pigs in a Blanket (Pillsbury Crescent Dogs) ~ in Categories 1, 2, 20 & 26.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)