Dean Fearing has quite a story to tell. The chef came to Dallas in 1978, everything he owned packed into a brown Celica, to work in the Pyramid Room at the Fairmont Hotel. At the time, Dallas was “a French restaurant town,” he says.
In 1981, he changed all that with the opening of Agnew’s, the first five-star American restaurant in the city. Many restaurants and cookbooks and television appearances later, he’s the most lauded chef in Dallas, and he’s still making headlines and history at his namesake restaurant, Fearing’s, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Uptown.
In this video, the next in the series called Dean’s Texas Cuisine, Fearing celebrate's the restaurant's 10-year anniversary by making one of its signature original dishes: the Modern Buffalo Taco.
He and chef Eric Dreyer delve into why the seasoning is so important to the tacos' overall taste, and why serving them up on one tortilla just won't cut it.
Watch the video to see why Fearing calls this smoky, spicy recipe "perfect the way it is," and then try your hand at re-creating this famous Dallas dish at home.
Modern Buffalo Taco with blue cheese dressing, smoked chili aioli, and Sriracha
1 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. fresh cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 lb. buffalo tenderloin, trimmed of all fat and silver skin
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
8 white corn tortillas, griddled
Sriracha to taste
Cotija cheese, grated
In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, black pepper, garlic, shallot, sage, thyme, and pepper flakes. Stir to combine and add filet.
Let the tenderloin marinate in the maple mixture for eight hours or overnight, rotating the tenderloin every two hours. Remove the tenderloin from the mixture and cut into strips. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lay the strips of meat in skillet and brown for two minutes.
Turn and brown for an additional two minutes or until desired degree of doneness is reached. Remove from heat.
Spoon equal amounts of the buffalo into the center of two stacked tortillas (repeat for remaining three portions). Place a spoonful of each of the blue cheese dressing (recipe below), smoked chili aioli (recipe below), and Sriracha over top. Finish with pico de gallo (recipe below) and sprinkle with cotija cheese to garnish.
Point Reyes blue cheese dressing
1 cup Point Reyes blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
Splash of Tabasco sauce
½ each lemon, juiced
Salt to taste
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk together vigorously. The result should be a creamy texture with only a few small lumps of blue cheese.
Smoked chili aioli
1 cup prepared mayonnaise
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cold smoked
1 red jalapeno, roasted and chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 anchovy filets
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. smoked paprika
½ cup olive oil
Lime juice to taste
Salt to taste
In blender, combine mayonnaise, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, anchovies, dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, worcestershire, Tabasco, and smoked paprika. Puree until smooth.
Slowly add oil until dressing is emulsified and creamy. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
Yellow tomato pico de gallo
1 large yellow tomato, seeded and diced small
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 each lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.