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Christmas taco bar recipes with Irish relatives

We decided to go out the box this year and having a taco bar for Christmas. Family is all Irish except me so it has to be mild. :(. . Any suggestions?

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  1. you might get more responses by posting this on the Home Cooking Board.........

    2 Replies
    1. re: Madrid

      Thanks first day here. Now to find the home board.

      1. re: Sanbin

        sorry....this is the home cooking board

        http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/31

        come back here if you need help finding ingredients!

    2. I attented a taco party over the summer. We brought a half tray of refried beans from tacqueria mexico in waltham. They were a big hit and finished off before we left the party. Their chips and salsa were also a hit, but the salsa will probably be too spicy for you.

      1. My family does a taco spread sometimes, and most of them are German or Irish. They do a bowl of ground beef with extremely mild 'taco seasoning' (paprika, cumin, garlic), bowls of chopped tomato, lettuce, and onion, a bowl of chopped jalapenos, and a selection of salsas (corn salsa, mild tomato salsa, hot chipotle or tomatillo salsa).

        1. I love pickled red onions on my tacos. And lots of cilantro.

          1. You might want to get one of Rick Bayless' cookbooks. I have the one called Fiesta at Rick's. There are some great recipes for taco fillings. One is with scallops, chorizo and potatoes. Another one is with pastor-style pork steaks marinated in achiote -- really good.

            Many of the recipes are also on his Web site.

            1. How about putting together a few meat options? Pork carnitas, seared flank steak, and maybe ground chicken w/ mild taco seasoning? Then you could do tons of fixins. At my house, those would be:
              Pico De Gallo
              Verde Salsa
              Restaurant Style Salsa
              Crema or sour cream
              Avocado hunks w/ lime juice and cilantro (kind of like guac)
              Shredded Cheddar
              Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
              Sliced black olives

              Plus we'd have a few dips for chips, so probably a bean dip, queso, and a restaurant style salsa.

              9 Replies
              1. re: LaureltQ

                Sounds good! Do u put out plain shredded chicken then sauces on side?

                1. re: Sanbin

                  What is taco seasoning anyway? Is it really better than adding individual seasoning to flavor the dish?

                  I do actually like a Doritos Loco taco, but maybe you could have that kind of taco seasoning taste be one of many you put on the table.

                  1. re: calumin

                    I wasn't sure what "taco seasoning" is either.

                    I would use only soft tortillas. Not just for "authenticity" but because, IMO, they're better. Plus they can be such a mess as they fall apart.

                  2. re: Sanbin

                    I would do ground chicken taco meat a la the 80s.

                    1. re: LaureltQ

                      Why not just grilled chicken that is then roughly chopped?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Just a different texture.

                        And "taco seasoning" is whatever blend you generally use. Generally some combination of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and whatever else seems reasonable.

                  3. re: LaureltQ

                    I agree, a few different kinds of protein. Just because it is tacos it doesn't need to be just ground beef. I would probably do seasoned shredded chicken to replace the ground beef, a sliced seared flank steak and a fish or shrimp filling.

                    LaureltQ had a great list of toppings to add. You could replace pico de gallo with bowls of chopped fresh tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers, chopped cilantro and pickled jalapenos. Maybe add a dry Mexican cheese in addition to cheddar. Consider shredded cabbage as a replacement to or in addition to Iceberg lettuce.

                    I would also serve a rice dish, like a red tomato rice and some slow cooked beans, either pintos or black.

                    If you have vegetarians, consider some kind of mushroom or zucchini/summer squash filling for the tacos.

                    For taco shells, I would offer a combo of crunchy, soft corn and soft flour tortillas. I would probably also make some corn bread made with some whole corn mixed in, just because I can.

                    1. re: Springhaze2

                      What a great idea. "Deconstructed" pico de gallo. Love that idea.

                      I've NEVER done ground beef for tacos. Our most common meats are grilled chicken and beef, chopped. Love shrimp and fish but IMO they suffer if not served right when cooked.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I agree that shrimp and fish could suffer if not cooked and served immediately. However, shrimp might still work if cooked and served chilled, People could eat the shrimp as an appetizer with a salsa style "cocktail" sauce or add them to the tacos.

                  4. How many people? Any vegetarians?
                    I would do two protein options- grilled chicken with a tequila/lime marinade and either red meat or fish/shrimp for the other.
                    For toppings:
                    Refried beans (vegetarian without lard if needed)
                    Rice- stir in fresh cilantro and lime juice after its done cooking
                    Shredded lettuce
                    Sour cream
                    Guacamole
                    Pickled jalapenos (in case someone is adventurous)
                    Pico salsa- just make it with tomato/onion/cilantro
                    Lime wedges
                    Corn/black bean/ bell peppers chopped, mixed together with a lemon vinegrette

                    On the side a big salad with chopped cucumbers, jicama, cilantro, green onion, pumpkin seeds

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Definitely do the lime wedges - they're cheap and add such a bright flavor to all of the offerings.

                    2. 1 vegetarian rest are normally well done meat lovers

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Sanbin

                        If you have well done meat lovers, I'd skip the steak and go with a meat that actually tastes good well done - pork carnitas would be perfect, in addition to your standard American ground beef filling (both can be made mild). Shredded chicken would work too. The vegetarian will be fine with beans/rice and grilled vegetables (I would include grilled onions and bell peppers in your fixings). Lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, a couple of types of salsa, sliced olives, diced tomatoes, a couple of types of cheese and some lime wedges and you should be good to go. Oh, I'd also offer both hard and soft shells. Sounds like a great party!

                        1. re: Sanbin

                          Just make sure the beans and rice are vegetarian (if you buy refried beans look for "vegetarian" rosarita brand or amy's is my favorite- otherwise they contain lard....

                          1. re: Sanbin

                            Well-done meat begs for grilled chicken/beef fajita meat ....

                          2. We prefer whole beans, usually black.

                            I agree with grilled meats and/or seafood. I don't put sauce on them. People can add what they want. Pico de gallo can be made with and without jalapeno.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: c oliver

                              or have sliced jalapeno on the side and perhaps, pickled (my favorite way)

                              1. re: JerryMe

                                LOVE pickled! Good rec.

                                I'm hoping OP won't play it TOO safe. As long as the spicy things are separate, I'd let it rip!

                            2. In my Irish family, there must always be a potato dish. Here's one that will fit your theme [cheesy papas]: http://beyerbeware.net/2011/11/abuelo...

                              P.S. Abuelo's is a regional Tex-Mex restaurant chain in Oklahoma/Texas

                              1. Don't forget the guacamole. My favorite.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chefwant2B

                                  For tacos I actually prefer sliced avocadoes. Easier to put in place.

                                2. A nice beef molido picadillo? Ground beef, mild chile powder or make a chile sauce for it with mild dried chiles, that will taste better than American-style chili powder. You can add flavor without heat by using part sweet paprika, get a fancy fresh tasting brand (Penzeys is good) Full of little chunks of potato, maybe some raisins and peas for sweetness. I make this quite often to take to work for lunch. Edit: I have found that a little acid makes this taste better, some vinegar or something. I must say that the times I have used Taco Bell brand taco seasoning, and did not make my own, children and grandparents LOVED it. It's got msg and malic acid for pure gustatory pleasure. But I am too proud to do this on purpose.

                                  Chicken breast for the timid.

                                  pinto bean and nopalito (the pickled sort) is a good taco filling, and vegetarian. Also straight potato with maybe some cumin and a little chile, maybe mild green ones just for a nice flavor. Ooh, or rajas, strips of ancho and cheese. That might be too hot though.

                                  Get the best corn tortillas you can find (fresh ones if at all possible). Fry up a few for those who want crispy tacos.

                                  1. To season meat for tacos:

                                    Ground cumin, fresh garlic, Ancho chile powder, salt and pepper.

                                    1. I am guessing your goal is Tex-Mex style tacos, not so much like the tacos you'd find in Mexico. And who doesn't like Tex-Mex? So this means you'll probably have flour tortillas, ground beef, maybe some chunks of chicken or beef, guacamole, sour cream, and the requisite Tex-Mex shredded Monterrey Jack/Cheddar cheese. I'd call it a "Tex-Mex bar" rather than a taco bar, though I suppose if people put the above-mentioned items inside a tortilla and fold it over, it's a "taco." Whatever you call it, enjoy.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: LorenzoGA

                                        I'm curious why you think OP is looking for Tex-Mex. "Real" Mexican tacos go so far beyond that. Scroll down on the Wiki link for some varieties.

                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taco

                                        I make these kinds not the "Tex-Mex" described.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          I've been to Mexico many times and traveled the length and breadth of the country, but don't get me wrong--I LOVE Tex-Mex food, as do quite a few Mexicans I know. The OP mentioned "mild" and implied the Irish relatives are not that familiar with Mexican food, so I'm guessing--and I could be wrong--that the tacos they know and love are of the type that the majority of people on this thread are describing. If I'm wrong, I'd be more than glad to discuss any kind of tacos.

                                          As for the word "authentic," I refuse to use it with reference to ANY cuisine!--it's opening a can of worms.

                                          1. re: LorenzoGA

                                            You'll notice that both "real" and "authentic" are in quotes :)

                                            I don't disagree with the choice but sure do think it's quite, well, boring. Ground beef, shredded jack cheese, refried beans. Sure have those things but add in the others and maybe be surprised at what gets eaten. We're not talking expensive or labor intensive foods so I'd go for it.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              YOU may think ground beef, shredded jack cheese, refried beans, lettuce, sour cream, "taco seasoning," flour tortillas, etc., are "boring," but if the number of replies in this thread in which people recommended just such tacos is representative of the general population, I think lots of people do not find it boring. I don't find Tex-Mex tacos boring at all, and it's fun to set up a taco bar with these ingredients and let people make their own. The replies here look good to me, and seem to have satisfied the OP. Cheers!

                                              1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                And it's fun to branch out and see if others like those things also.

                                        2. re: LorenzoGA

                                          I guess Tex Mex it is; sounds like just what I need; Taco-ish but not too spicy. I will put some spicy salsa out for the few who, like me, will want some spice in their life. Thanks for the replies

                                          1. re: Sanbin

                                            "Authentic" Mexican food need not be spicy.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I do not disagree in the least ... but I'm respectfully staying away from the word "authentic." See my reply above to your other comment.

                                        3. Sorry to start a fight over TexMex vs. "real" tacos. Just kidding thanks for all the responses and have a better idea of how to head.

                                          1. My family is very heat adverse, even mild salsa is spicy to a few. Mom's version of tacos is seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced onions, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, black olives, soft tortillas, hard taco shells (make sure you bake these first to crisp them up!). Add some refried beans and Mexican rice and that's the meal. No pretense of this being any where near authentic Mexican, but none of us care.