Tacos From A Master

Food & Wine magazine says you can't come to Dallas without eating at the table of celebrity chef Dean Fearing.

The expert on haute Southwest cuisine has been impressing diners and critics for over 20 years, and in two weeks will open his own restaurant (www.fearingsrestaurant.com), which will bear his name, at the brand new Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dallas.

On The Early Show Friday, Fearing prepared amazing tacos, and more, and introduced viewers to some delicious Southwestern ingredients along the way.

A winner of multiple culinary awards, Fearing has hosted TV shows and written two cookbooks.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he worked in restaurants across the country, eventually becoming executive chef at "The Mansion on Turtle Creek," (a luxury hotel here in Dallas), a position he held for 21 years.

Fearing was enticed to leave when the folks at the city's brand-new Ritz Carlton offered him his own eatery.

He told the trade journal "Restaurants & Institutions," "(The decision to leave) was definitely the timing and the thrill factor. I'd just turned 51 and I have two boys, at that time 6 and 8, and I said I want to do something different. I loved The Mansion. The Mansion was great. I had the best ride of any chef in America. I couldn't have gotten any more press over 21 years. I have probably seven scrapbooks at my mother's house to prove it. It truly set me in the place where I wanted to ever be, goal-wise, as an American chef.

"But I thought, 'Gosh, I'm 51. I could retire. Do I really want to venture out and do something that I think is the next step for modern dining?' I do. And that is to get away from fine dining to a come-as-you-are approach, but still serving on bone china, fine wine glasses and silver from Germany, doing it without tablecloths and doing it on placemats. But with a cool placemat, an edgy tabletop; doing it with beautiful, dark mahogany tables and with sunlight coming in to the restaurant, and doing all seven rooms different in concept. But with … only one menu, and making that menu interesting enough for everybody."

Food & Wine magazine is a partner in The Early Show's "Summer in the City" tour. For more on what to do in the cities on the tour, go to this page in Food & Wine. To recommend a chef in your city, and vote on Food & Wine's top picks, click here.

The tacos Fearing made on The Early Show were very different. For starters, he doesn't use ground beef or shredded chicken; rather, he has a flavorful and popular cut of meat, short ribs. He braises the meat for three or four hours in a mixture of chicken stock and white wine, along with garlic, rosemary, celery root and other aromatics.

When the meat is falling off the bone, he shreds it and throws it in a pan with some BBQ sauce. When that comes to a boil, he stirs in some jack cheese, then spoons the whole mixture into warm flour tortillas.

He also made a mango-pickled red onion salad to garnish the tacos.

There are some great Southwestern flavors in this salad such as cilantro, jicama, and a cumin-lime vinaigrette. As a finishing touch, he sprinkles the tacos with a salty Mexican white cheese called cotijo. If anyone can't find that cheese, parmesan makes a fine substitute.



Serves 4

1 cup diced braised beef short-rib (recipe to follow)
Salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup Sonoma Jack Cheese
12 three-inch Flour Tortillas, cooked and warm
Mango Pickled Red Onion Salad (recipe follows)
1/3 cup grated cotija cheese or Mexican Farmer's Cheese
1/3 cup toasted and coarsely ground green Mexican Pumpkin Seeds
4 fresh Serrano chilies
4 sprigs fresh cilantro

Place oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add short-rib and sauté for 2 minutes, add Barbecue Sauce and bring to a boil. Immediately remove pan from heat, add jack cheese, stir to combine and keep warm.

Place a warm tortilla on each of four warm serving plates. Spoon equal portions of braised short-rib mixture into the middle of each tortilla and roll up into cylinder, with the seam side down on the plate. Then add a small portion of Mango-Pickled Red Onion Salad on top of each taco. Sprinkle with cheese and Mexican pumpkin seeds and garnish with fresh Serrano chilies (to be eaten like a pickle for the adventurous) and sprigs of cilantro.


16 oz Beef Short Rib
4 oz Red Wine
1 oz Jalapeno
4 oz Tomato
2 oz Celery
2 oz Carrot
2 oz Onion
1 sprig Thyme
1/2 oz Sage
1 ea Bay Leaf
2 ea Ancho Chili (seeds and stems removed)
1/2 tsp Cumin (ground)
1/2 tsp Coriander (ground)
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 oz Smoked Onion
2 cups Dr. Pepper
4 cups Chicken Stock

Season and sear short ribs in pan, then remove. Add mirepoix to pan and brown, add spices, add tomato and cook down. Next add red wine, reduce by half, then add Dr. Pepper and reduce by half. Add Chicken Stock, season and add ribs back to pan. Cover with Parchment and foil place in 300 degree oven for 2.5 to 3 hours until tender.


Makes about 4 cups

2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into julienne
Pickled red onion (recipe to follow)
3 cups of julienned green cabbage
1 cup small diced jicama
1/2 cup of toasted pecans
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh cilantro
Smokey Cumin Lime Vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
Salt to taste

Place the first six ingredients into a medium bowl. Slowly add vinaigrette until salad is lightly coated. Season with salt and serve immediately.


1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 canola oil
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 small onion cut into small dice and cold smoked for 20 minutes
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 tablespoon of toasted whole cumin
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt to taste

Combine the first three ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Add smoked onions, orange juice, cumin, vinegar and maple syrup to a small sauce pot and bring to a boil. Cook until mixture has reduced to almost dry, about five minutes. Place smoked onion mixture into blender and puree until smooth. Add to oil and lime- juice mixture. Season with salt and stir until completely blended.


1 red onion
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 white sugar
Pinch of salt

Peel onion. Cut in half and slice into very thin half-moon shapes. Put in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat vinegar and sugar (50-50) in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. When sugar dissolves, remove from heat. Add pinch of salt and pour over onion in container and cover with plastic. Put in the refrigerator and allow to stand overnight and pickle approximately 8 - 12 hours. When cool drain onions and use for salad.