The quick fix for the Memorial Day show comes to you courtesy of the old Loading Dock restaurant in the Frandor Shopping Center in Lansing, Michigan. I literally still dream of that place. I can't tell you how many nights I've wandered through dimly lit, rambling hallways in old buildings stretching on for what seems like miles of city blocks, looking for the Loading Dock to find Pat and Jean Collins and ask for my old job back. Most times my searching is in vain while a few others I actually catch a glimpse of them and in even fewer they hire me back. But it's never the same and I never even seem to get so much as an order of fries out let alone one of their great taco salads.
OK, ours wasn't the greatest Mexican salad in the area. That honor went to El Azteco for their
Topopo Salad. But ours was certainly popular enough as evidenced by the amount we sold.
In addition to my dreams, I've tried looking up Pat and Jean online with no luck. I do, however, enjoy that salad from time to time and will be enjoying it tonight for my dinner. I hope you'll take a few to enjoy it, too.
There are very good taco chips on the market and I'm sure very good baked ones as well for those who are watching their fat intake. I do like to make my own, however, using the handmade or any other thick tortilla. Best to let them dry out for a short time before cutting them into wedges and frying in hot oil. (If you plan on salting them, do so immediately after retrieving them from the hot oil to make sure the salt sticks.)
Also, feel free to make your own taco meat (or vegetarian version) instead of using the packet.
Loading Dock Taco Salad
1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
1 packet taco mix
Shredded cheddar cheese
Garnishes of your choice (tomatoes, scallions, avocado...)
Sweet and sour cream sauce (recipe below)
Salsa or hot sauce
On each plate, crush some of the chips into large pieces. Sprinkle with some of the cheese.
Top this with some of the hot taco meat mixture followed by some lettuce and any of the garnishes you wish to use.
Serve sour cream sauce and salsa or hot sauce on the side.
Sour Cream Sauce
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of white vinegar
Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and balance flavor to your liking with more vinegar or sugar if needed.
And if anyone runs into Pat or Jean Collins, tell them I said "hi" and I'm still making that salad. Oh, and if they happened to reopen the Loading Dock...