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Nov 8, 2012 10:17 AM

How long do you simmer taco meat?

Every week, a bunch of my colleagues and I get together after happy hour for taco night (think: traditional Taco Bell, packet-style, American tacos with ground beef and sometimes shredded chicken though I do make my own spice mixture). In my surprise, last week there was pretty lengthy discussion about the "right" way to make the taco meat. Clearly we are into these greasy tacos. The traditional box mixes instruct you to simmer for 20 minutes or so however there was a strong contingent that believed you should add more water and simmer for an hour for that perfect taco meat. I'm sure most Chows make "higher standard" tacos that don't require a simmer but for those that do how long do you do it?

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  1. I think the simmer is necessary to thoroughly integrate the spices and develop a little sauce. I don't like the end result to be too dry. I brown the meat in a skillet with a chopped onion. I keep the heat medium so that things don't actually get too brown, just cooked through. If chorizo or ground beef is involved, I drain off the fat. Then I add my spice blend and some water to nearly cover the meat, then continue to cook, uncovered and stirring periodically, until water is mostly gone. This usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. S&P added at the end depending on taste.

    Edited to add that I drain by tilting the pan to spoon out fat so a little bit remains. I like taste better that way. Usually I use ground turkey or chopped up chicken so draining step is skipped completely.

    1. We love those kind of tacos too. I brown the meat, drain in colander, put back in pan, add seasonings and water and let simmer for aprox15-20 minutes. Too much longer and it starts to dry out and adding more water dilutes the flavors.

      BTW, I buy a HUGE jar of taco seasoning from BJ's so if you do this a lot you should consider it. Pennies a serving as opposed to the 50-99 cents a packet and easy to adjsut based on the amount of meat. Yts also good to add to meatloaf.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodieX2

        Well it seems that 15-20 minutes is the standard. The argument was that a longer simmer with enough water that it doesn't dry out results in finer textured beef.