taco night... its always the same old thing... i need some variation...
- valentinelovers Jan 13, 2007 07:56 PM
My husband and i LOVE taco night... i get ground beef, taco shells and the taco seasoning... i make the meat with the seasoning... nothing else... sometimes i put tomato sause... but it is really not that great... we cut tomatoes, cutcumbers, lettus and pickles up... sometimes i make guackamoli, but we both dont like muchrooms and onions... tacos are gettiong boring... and ideas on how to chance our tacos for the good???
There are many many tacos out there. Maybe you need to investigate some variations. Your tacos will be better if you make your own shells too from fresh tortillas. Fried fish tacos are divine, thinly sliced steak, sauteed chicken, all veg. Scrambled egg and chorizo for breakfast....check out Epicurious they have 41 recipes to get you started and throw that taco seasoning junk away when you start looking and learning new variations you may never go back to where you started from.
my husband would love the spicy idea... but i cant stand spicy food... the refried beans do sound good... we usually eat them with hamburgers, hotdogs, fried, etc... b-b-q night. we sometimes do chese, and i have never tried burritos... thanx...
and the recipes from Epicurious seem good... i will try some of them soon... problem is we dont have much fish n stuff in the house... taco night is usually a , find whatever vegis we have and make um cuz there is not much else and i did not go shopping yet kinda night...
VL, I recently experienced some fantastic brisket tacos at Manny's in Dallas. I tried re-creating them by slow cooking a brisket (braised 4-5 hours covered at 275 degrees until completely tender but you could use a slow cooker.) The brisket was cooked with garlic, onions, celantro and Gebhardt's chili powder. The difference between a brisket taco and a hamburger taco will amaze you.
How about authentic carne asada tacos with fresh corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, and fresh pico de gallo? Flap meat or skirt steak works best for these. You can find a ton of recipes for this on the web, but the marinade for the meat is critical, which usually consists of seasoning salt, cilantro, orange juice, and slivered onions. The meat tastes best grilled, but is easily cooked on a cast iron skillet or griddle. If done right, you are not likely to go back to the old crispy shells and ground beef anytime soon.
I do these with skirt steak marinated with achiote verde, chopped jalapenos, and lime juice. I get the meat from the Mexican butcher in the next town north of us, and he chops it in little cubes for me. When I go to cook it, I put it in a cast iron skillet marinade and all. After it's cooked I drain the liquid off, then put it back in the skillet and let any remaining surface moisture cook away. Then I heat the tortillas for a few seconds in a small skillet over really high heat, add a spoonful of meat, a few chopped onion bits, some cilantro and a little queso anejo. This doesn't take a whole lot more work than what you're already doing, although if you can get a second pair of hands to do the chopping while you brown the meat (or vice versa), and put the tacos together assembly-line-style, it makes it that much easier.
But I still occasionally do the crunchy shell/ground beef/ seasoning packet routine from time to time. It has its place.
Leftover cooked chicken or pork with a small can (8 oz.) of Spanish-style tomato sauce; add these to sauteed onions and garlic, then enhance with chili powder, cumin (I like to roast the whole seeds and grind them up) and maybe a splash of Worcestershire (to taste). Put into a warmed corn tortilla, fold it over, and then fry; or, more authentically, put inside a pair of warmed corn tortillas and don't fry. Add any toppings you like: avocado, cheese, raw onion, whatever. Easy, delicious, and infinitely variable; it's one of my go-to dinners when I don't feel much like cooking.
Here's what we do around here. I think I may have already posted this, but it bears repeating:
Tacos al Carbón Indoors
Those of us who cannot indulge in outdoor barbecuing certainly needn’t deny ourselves the pleasures that grilling can yield. This is nice, messy, Saturday night fun, though not for company, unless you enjoy seeing your friends with sour cream all over their faces.
3 smooth-skinned limes, heavy for their size
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 drops of “Liquid Smoke”
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon “five-spice” powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
droplets of Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 1/2 lbs. flank steak
(or sirloin, skirt steak, or even top round, sometimes called London Broil,
though with the latter cut, I’d go with 6 hours’ marination)
15-20 scallions, different sizes, slender to thick, trimmed
(leave no more than 4 inches of green top), split lengthwise if large,
and cut into 2-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil (or corn oil)
12 6” corn tortillas
Hot sauce and/or salsa of your choice
Chopped fresh jalapeños
Chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives, or your favorite olives, pitted
3/4 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Plenty of sour cream
Roll the limes on your counter and microwave them for 1 minute. Halve the limes and squeeze the juices with a juicer into a 1-cup glass measure.
After squeezing the lime juice, run the garlic cloves through a garlic press into a one-quart glass measure. Immediately pour in the lime juice, then the olive oil, soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, cinnamon, mace, cayenne, ginger, oregano, pepper, and hot sauce droplets.
Score the steak lightly in a cross-hatch pattern on both sides, and place it in a large sealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over, and refrigerate, turning it once or twice, for 4 hours. Let the meat spend a half-hour at room temperature before searing. That seems to relax it. Reserve the marinade.
Prep all vegetables and garnishes. Heat a large empty cast-iron skillet for five minutes over high heat. Add a slicking of oil, lower the heat to medium, then carefully lay in the steak. Cover the pan, unless you dearly love smoke. Cook for no more than 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and keep it warm.
Lay the scallions into the undrained pan, and pour in the reserved marinade. Cook, covered, stirring once, until the scallions are lightly browned and tender, 7-8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a few teaspoons of peanut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tortilla and fry until just pliable, 10-20 seconds per side. Be careful not to let them get too stiff. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding a little oil as needed.
When the scallions are done, place them in a serving bowl. Carve the meat across the grain and at a slight angle into 1/2” slices. Cut the slices crosswise into 1/3” cubes. Place on a heated serving plate and serve immediately, with the grilled onions, salsa, chopped jalapeños, chopped olives, grated cheese, and sour cream.
Yield 10-12 overstuffed tacos
I think you can spark "taco night" without going to a lot of trouble.
Consider making soft as well as hard tacos (small flour tortillas, or corn ones if you like them).
The filling need not be spicy but you could get away from hamburger - consider using strips of boneless chicken breast (or boneless thigh) just cooked in a skillet with something to give it a little flavor (salt/pepper/cumin) and make your tacos new again!
Add some greens: either strips of cooked green pepper done the same way as the meat, or fresh cilantro leaves as a garnish (or even a bit of chopped parsley) or, instead of the guacamole, just some strips of plain avocado (if you can get them ripened just right to cut wedges, or chunks if you can't)
We prefer the soft shells (avoids all the breakage) but our fav taco lately is broiled scallop tacos. A little cabbage, avocado, lime juice and montrey jack and you've got one great meal.