Gluten Free Chalupas, a homemade Taco Bell style recipe. Crispy, crunchy fried gluten free chalupa shells filled with beef and cheese!
Okay okay I know that real Mexican chalupas are made with fried corn tortillas. And if that’s the way you want to go, don’t let me stand in your way. But I went a different way. I went with a homemade Taco Bell style recipe for gluten free chalupas—by way of Deep Dish Chicago Style Pizza dough. Like this one from page 193 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, as that dough is one of my absolute favorites from thenew book:
I chose that dough, well, because I love it. But also because it has some cornmeal in the dough. And I was going for the kinda-chewy, kinda-crunchy chalupa shell at Taco Bell.
When you fry them lightly, the shells really do hit that sweet spot between crunchy and chewy. And even though you would never expect it, they actually reheat rather well. A fried food miracle!
I used pretty typical fillings, but of course you could make these your own, any way you like. They’d be delicious with shredded chicken—even with the Chicken Gyro fillings. Fusion food!
The dough from GFOAS Bakes Bread is, of course, easier to work with and just plain better. But the old recipe still works, as all my old bread recipes do work just as they did before!
And believe it or not, this made enough food (with some veg on the side) that even my ever-hungry family had 2 leftover chalupas that I wrapped up tightly in plastic and placed in the refrigerator—and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be a soggy mess the next day.
Lo and behold, we gave it a quick spin in the microwave and served it for lunch the next day, and it was still really good. I think it’s because the shells are fried very, very lightly in the oil. And that crispy/chewy texture just does better as leftovers than if we fried them crisp. And of course, the dough is a dream. Magic chalupas!
Neutral oil, for frying (I used a mixture of canola oil and Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Shredded lettuce, for serving
Chopped and seeded tomatoes, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
If using the deep dish pizza dough from page 193 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smoother as directed in These General Shaping Tips. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, each about 4 ounces, and roll each into a ball. Working with one piece of dough at a time, and covering the others with a moist tea towel so they do not dry out, sprinkle the dough lightly with bread flour. With well-floured hands and a well-floured rolling pin, pat and roll out the first piece of dough into a 7-inch diameter round, rotating the dough and flouring it frequently, to prevent sticking, as shown in this gluten free pizza shaping video. Transfer the round of dough to a piece of unbleached parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining 7 pieces of dough. (If using the blog recipe for the dough, follow those directions for shaping, but divide the dough into 7 equal pieces.) Cover the rounds loosely with a moist tea towel and allow them rise slightly while you prepare the fillings.
In a medium, heavy-bottom skillet, brown the ground beef until nearly cooked through (about 4 minutes). Add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper flakes, and mix to combine with the ground beef. Transfer the beef to a small bowl and set it aside.
In a clean heavy-bottom skillet with high sides, place about 2 inches of frying oil. Clip a deep-fry/candy thermometer to the side of the skillet, and bring the oil to 350°F over medium heat. Line a plate with paper towels, and set it aside. Once the oil has reached temperature, fry the round of dough into chalupa shells one at a time using the following method, and working quickly: place the round of dough, flat, into the hot oil. Allow it to cook for only 10 seconds. Using heat-safe tongs, fold the dough in half down the center of the round, and allow the dough to cook for another 10 seconds, pressing it down gently into the oil using the tongs to ensure that it is making contact with the oil. Using the tongs, carefully turn the chalupa shell over and cook for another 10 seconds, again pressing down gently with the tongs. Continue to cook on each side for 10 seconds at a time until the entire shell is very lightly golden brown all over. Lift the shell out of the oil with the tongs and allow the excess oil to drain before placing the shell on the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough. The shells can be kept warm on a lined baking sheet in a 200°F oven until all the shells are ready to be served.
To assemble the chalupas, fill each with the seasoned ground beef, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream, and serve warm.