serves 4 to 6 as a hefty snack or a simple meal
6 slices bacon
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups seasoned, cooked black beans (either canned or homemade), drained of most of their cooking liquid
2 to 3 pickled jalapenos or canned chipotle chiles en adobo, stemmed, seeded & finely chopped
A sprinkling of salt
Vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 inch for frying
12 very thin factory-made tortillas
2/3 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese
6 good-size romaine leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 large tomato, cored & chopped into 1/4-inch dice
In a large (10- to 12-inch heavy skillet, lay out the bacon & fry over medium heat, turning when browned underneath, until thoroughly crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but a thin coating of drippings.
Add the onion to the pan & cook, stirring regularly, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, then coarsely mash with a bean or potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Crumble the bacon & add half of it to the beans along with the chiles; stir over the heat until quite thick, about 5 minutes. Taste & season with salt. Cool.
Clean the skillet, pour in the oil & heat over medium-high. When hot, one by one, quick-fry the tortillas for several seconds to soften, then remove them with tongs & pat thoroughly dry on paper towels. Stack the blotted tortillas together, & remove the oil from the heat.
Spoon 2 Tbs of the black-bean mixture down the center of each tortilla, sprinkle each with about 1/2 Tbs of the cheese, & roll up. Cover with plastic wrap.
Return the oil to between medium & medium-high heat, you should have at least 1/4 inch of it in your skillet. Slice the romaine crosswise into 3/8-inch ribbons & toss with the vinegar & a little salt.
When the oil is very hot (it shouldn’t be smoking; 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer is just right), fry the taquitos 4 at a time, being sure to lay them into the hot oil flap-side down. When crispy underneath, about 2 minutes, flip them over & fry on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from the oil with tongs or a slotted spatula, drain on paper towels & tip them to ensure no oil is inside. Keep warm in a low oven until all are fried.
Spread the lettuce on top a serving platter (or divide it between individual plates) & top with the taquitos. Spoon the chopped tomato down he center of the tacos, sprinkle with the remaining cheese & bacon & carry the whole assembly to the table
bacon recipe courtesy of: Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine by Rick Bayless. Scribner, 1996 | Taste and Tell, June 4, 2010