Lorena Garcia’s New Taco Classics

One of America’s favorite chefs gives a healthy and exciting twist on the best street foods of Latin America.
The taco. The arepa. The empanada. The tamale. From the streets of Mexico and Venezuela to Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Cuba, these comfort foods represent something that’s shared across our Latin cultures: the concept of food in a vessel. Food embraced!
Breaking down each new-style taco into its elements, Lorena shows you how to create each delicious layer—from the shell to the fillings to the toppings, including slaws, salads, and sauces. You’ll give a Southern Hoppin’ John a new name and a Latin accent. You’ll top the sweetest of plantains with the tangiest of pickled onions. And you’ll learn how to make extraordinary side dishes like creamy Peruvian corn gratin, a flavorful succotash with a trio of beans, and avocado fries.
These flavor-packed recipes are made for pairing and sharing, depending on your craving or occasion. Master the elements, and your mix-and-match possibilities will be endless. You’ll find yourself easily cooking, eating, and swooning your way through a dizzying new world of crowd-pleasing Latin fare.

Lorena GarciaVenezuelan-born restaurateur, TV personality, and cookbook author Lorena Garcia is currently one of the country’s leading chefs. She is well known for numerous TV series  (Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Estrellas, Sazon con Lorena Garcia, Lorena en Su Salsa, and El Mejor De Los Peores to name a few), a successful chain of restaurants, and her cookbook, Lorena Garcia’s New Latin Classics. She was the creator of the Cantina Bell menu at Taco Bell, and has her own cookware line, Lorena Bella Kitchen Collection for HSN.

Photo: Michael Pisarri

Lorena Garcia presents the ‘simple’ taco in a new light. Basing her recipes and techniques in the tried and true traditional ways, she adds modern twists to these Latin American favorites. Lorena was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book.

Can you tell us a little about the regional diversity of tacos?  I believe that by deconstruction the concept of tacos I have the perfect opportunity to showcase our different cultures in Latin America, its diversity and richness and at the same time giving the so called “street food” the importance that it deserves. Some of the best dishes I have tried comes from family recipes and simple presentations.

Is the ‘humble’ taco finally getting the respect it deserves? I truly believe so and it is exactly my purpose in my new book NEW TACO CLASSICS.

This is really an all-encompassing book. You discuss everything from doughs, to beans, slaws and of course filings. Was it difficult to research such a broad subject matter? Not so difficult. I had a clear vision of exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted to present my chapters, that way is so much more that just a simple taco book, you have endless combinations that you can make and full of beautiful images that will give you an idea of how the dishes are composed.

Did anything surprise you while you were researching this book? The common thread of ingredients and cooking techniques there are not only in Latin America but in the world.

Any advice for someone who might be intimidated making their own tacos? My advice is to keep it simple, make a recipe that is very simple so you can focus in making it perfect, this will motivate you to continue to cook better each time.

What’s next for you? Continuing with my kitchen product line Lorena Bella kitchen collections at HSN, my restaurants, different projects on television and continue with my program BCLC (Big Chef, Little Chef), still lots to learn and lots to do.

Copyright 2015 Booksaboutfood.com

“Lorena makes food come alive with her palettes of chic color and bold flavor. When you taste these signature dishes, you’ll feel the love and passion that she infuses into everything she creates. I thank and congratulate Lorena on this cookbook, which I know will inspire families to share the love of creating delicious meals together.”—Joy Mangano

“My beloved sister Chef Lorena Garcia, Queen of Latin Fusion, takes delicious traditional home dishes from all over Central and South America, and lovingly adds new ingredients that are full of freshness and flavor. Your casa will be full of wonderful smells and flavors from these easy to follow recipes.”—Chef Art Smith, Chef de Party to Oprah Winfrey, Bestselling Author

“Lorena Garcia’s New Taco Classics will reintroduce you to tacos and introduce you to a world far beyond them. Filled with vibrant colors and explosive flavor, you will want to try every recipe in this book and will keep coming back to your new favorites.”—Chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu


Grilled Fish Tacos

Green Tomatillo–Pulled Chicken Tamales

Arepa Burger with Avocado Fries

kf 4

Grilled Fish TacosArepa Burger

This dish is probably one of the simplest in the book. It’s also one of my favorites. These tacos are both light and decadent. When paired with cabbage slaw, avocado, and pico, this meaty, well-seasoned grouper makes a delicious filling for blue corn tortillas.

1. Prepare a hot charcoal or gas grill. Season grouper liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

2. Place grouper on grill. Let cook for 4 minutes and turn on other side; let cook for another 4 minutes.

3. Remove fish from grill. With two forks, break apart grouper into bite-size pieces.

To build:

Warm the tortillas on the hot grill for a few seconds or in the microwave with a damp towel for a few seconds. Top each warm tortilla with Cabbage Slaw, grilled grouper, Pico de Gallo, and fresh avocado slices. Serve with a fresh lime wedge.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


8 Blue Corn Tortillas (see recipe pg. 26)

Green Cabbage Slaw (see recipe pg. 125)

Grilled Grouper (see recipe below)

Pico de Gallo (see recipe pg. 67)

Fresh avocado, sliced

Fresh lime, wedges

For the Grilled Grouper:

1 pound fresh grouper

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black


kf 4Green Tomatillo–Pulled Chicken TamalesPulled Chicken

It is no ordinary tomatillo sauce that bathes the pulled chicken in this recipe—the tomatillos are first charred on the grill with green peppers and Serrano peppers. The result is a smoky sauce for the chicken and a delicious topping for tamales.

Make Tomatillo Chicken:

1. Preheat the grill to high heat. Place tomatillos, green pepper, and Serrano peppers on grill and char all sides.

2. In a medium-size sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add grilled tomatillos, grilled green peppers, grilled Serrano peppers, garlic, and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and place pan ingredients, plus cilantro, lime juice, and agave, in a blender and blend until smooth.

4. Pour the tomatillo mixture into a large heated sauté pan. As the tomatillo sauce simmers, add chicken, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat.

Prepare the tamales:

1. Melt butter in a griddle over medium-high heat.

2. Unwrap tamales and place them on the griddle for 20 seconds on each side, to warm.

Assemble the dish:

1. Remove Sweet Corn Tamales from heat and center each on a serving plate. Spoon the green Tomatillo Chicken on top of each tamal.

2. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco and Spicy Pickled Onions. Serve immediately.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


4 Sweet Corn Tamales (see recipe pg. 33)

Tomatillo Chicken (recipe below)

1 cup grated queso fresco

Spicy Pickled Onions (see recipe pg. 98)

For the Tomatillo Chicken:

6 tomatillos, husked, washed

1 green pepper

2 Serrano peppers

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons agave syrup

2 ½ cups of cooked shredded chicken

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

To warm tamales:

1 tablespoon of butter

kf 4Arepa Burger with Avocado FriesArepa Burger

This burger is so flavorful and light, I predict it will become a go-to meal for chicken lovers. Panko crumbs and Greek yogurt give body to the ground chicken, which is seasoned with aromatics, Dijon mustard, and lime. For a recipe shortcut, replace the White Hominy Arepas with basic Arepas (page 7).

For grilling:

1. To a large mixing bowl add the ground chicken, panko, Greek yogurt, garlic salt, onion powder, parsley, salt, black pepper, scallions, Dijon mustard, and lime juice. Mix gently until well combined.

2. Divide chicken mixture into 8 equal-sized balls, placing them on wax paper.

3. Flatten each ball into a patty. making a slight indentation in each center. (This helps patties keep their size while grilling.)

4. Place patties in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until set. (The patties must be stiff when you place them on the grill pan.)

5. Heat a grill pan. Add oil to coat.

6. Place the patties on the pan as it is heating up. (Do not wait until pan is fully hot.)

7. Once they are white halfway up the sides, flip them over with a nonstick spatula.

8. Once flipped, let them cook without moving them around. Watch for the bottom half to whiten upwards as did top half.

To build:

1. Slice the Arepas in half, as you would a hamburger bun. Spread Chipotle Crema inside the top and bottom halves of arepas.

2. Add pickles slices (if using), lettuce, and tomato. Top with chicken patty. Serve with a side of Avocado Fries.

Prep Time: 30 minutes if using basic Arepa recipe

Total time: 2½ hours; 1hour if using basic Arepa recipe

Yield: 4 servings


4 White Hominy Arepas (see recipe pg. 35)

Chipotle Crema (see recipe pg. 104)

Pickle slices (optional)

8 leaves of lettuce, the same size as the arepas

1 large tomato, sliced

Chicken Burgers (see recipe below)

Avocado Fries (see recipe pg. 337)

For Chicken Burgers:

1 pound ground chicken

½ cup panko crumbs

¼ cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons scallions, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lime juice

4 tablespoons oil

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *