While we are on the topic of video games, in today’s post, I’m going from MMO to single player with a recipe inspired by Night in the Woods. I figured garbage fast food would be a welcome change after some medieval fantasy fine dining. That’s why I’m sure this Possum Springs local favorite is sure to whet your appetite.
Click here to skip to the recipe for Possum Springs Pizzatacos.
Die Anywhere Else
In Night in the Woods, you play Mae Borowski, a college dropout returning to her Rust-Belt-inspired hometown of Possum Springs. Suffering from dissociative episodes and depression, Mae tries to bring back feelings of normalcy through nostalgia.
And nostalgia certainly has a place in Possum Springs. It’s that small town where the old dream of the good ole days before the coal mine dried up. And it’s also where the young either get out through college or end up stuck behind whatever low-paying retail counter that will take them.
Mae spends her days climbing the powerlines, playing her bass guitar, and trying to convince her friends to relive their high school hijinks. Whether that involves smashing fluorescent bulbs out of the air with a baseball bat, or shoplifting from the almost dead mall, Mae tries to escape the predictable patterns that make everything and everyone look only like shapes.
The game is a beautiful commentary on the struggles of young adulthood and mental illness and the necessity of connection of empathy for growth.
Also doesn’t hurt that it has gorgeous artwork and a killer soundtrack.
Possum Springs Pizza Fever
Today’s recipe comes from Mae’s excursion to the mall with her friend Bea where they choose to either dine on Pierogiburgers from Smelterburger or Pizzatacos from Go-Fer. I wanted to do both, but until I figure out the first, let’s go for some Americanized Mexicalitaliano junk food!
The first order of business, especially for a fast-food taco joint, would be your taco shells. Pizzatacos seem like they’d have their own flour-based shell for that crust-like flavor. While you could try deep frying them — I’ve found recently it’s far easier to use the oven rack and bake them. I used corn oil in this application since it is a Chicago pizza dough staple.
Next up is making the perfect meat filling that embraces Italian flavors while still reminding you that this is a taco instead of a folded piece of pizza. For that, I used Italian sausage as my base. The spices are already blended in for you, and it’s less expensive than ground beef.
I then sauteed some red onion, green bell pepper, and most importantly, ground cumin into my filling. You ever had taco seasoning? That main flavor note is ground cumin. It just doesn’t taste like an Americanized taco without it.
After that, I blended it all with crushed tomatoes and baked it under a blanket of six-blend Italian cheese, pepperoni, and black olives. You will have more filling than taco shells. That’s ok, though, because you can always bake up more, or stuff it into some tamales, spring roll wrappers, or even add more sauce for a slap-up chili con carne.
Sing for your Supper!
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Good Garbage Food
Possum Springs Pizzatacos
Equipment: Oven, oven rack, baking sheet, microwave, paper towels, baking dishes, stovetop, and skillet.
- 2 lbs mild Italian sausage
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/8 cup sliced black olives
- 1/8 cup pieces of torn pepperoni
- 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 8-12 taco-size flour tortillas
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 oz shredded Italian blend cheese
- 1 Tb corn oil
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- Remove a rack from the oven and preheat to 350°F. Wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 20-30 seconds until pliable.
- Prop the rack on top of boxes to raise it and place the baking sheet underneath. Brush corn oil on each side of the tortillas and drape each one over two rack bars. Then put the rack back in the oven and the baking sheet on the rack below to catch the oil.
- Bake 7-9 minutes until crispy. Remove the tortillas with a pair of tongs to cool.
- Preheat the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the sausage in clumps and brown while breaking up. Transfer the meat to a mixing bowl and drain off most of the fat.
- Add the peppers, onion, and cumin to the still-hot pan and stir-cook until the onions are translucent.
- Transfer the meat back to the pan and pour in the crushed tomatoes and dried basil. Reduce the heat to low, and stir and simmer until the liquid absorbs. Empty the contents of the skillet back into the bowl.
- Bump the heat up on the oven to 375°F. Lightly coat the inside of some baking dishes with cooking spray and line with taco shells.
- Fill the shells with taco meat–you will have leftovers. Top with cheese and dot with olives and pepperoni pieces. Bake for 10 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes before serving.