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Tacos--Cook-Off 39


jsmeeker
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Welcome to the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off! Click here for the Cook-Off index.

A couple of days ago, we were trying to figure out a good cook-off topic for late April/early May, and someone suggested tacos. Shortly thereafter, Mark Bittman of the New York Times decided to weigh in with this article, titled "Sunday Morning, Yucatán:"

[O]f all the wonders of Mérida that Mr. Sterling showed me, the one that most grabbed me was the cooking of Ana Sabrina Rivera del Río — called, simply, Sabrina — who is from what many Yucatecs consider another country: Mexico.

I encountered Sabrina at Santa Lucia Park, a few blocks from the splendidly restored building that houses both Los Dos and Mr. Sterling’s home. ... My friends were already there, munching on tacos, and we joined them, ordering a bit of everything: a kind of salad of nopales (cactus leaves); an incredible mix of poblanos, potatoes and corn; a similar dish with chorizo; some warm mushrooms; a straightforward but quite tasty picadillo, ground meat with carrots and potatoes; and the seasonal romeritos, made from a plant that resembles rosemary but tastes like nettles. All were served on corn tortillas, which Sabrina brushed with lard before browning on the comal, a metal griddle heated with charcoal.

Bittman shares three recipes, as well, for Taco Filling With Poblano Strips and Potatoes, Mushroom Taco Filling, and Nopales Filling.

Meanwhile, over at Bon Appetit, Steven Raichlen writes about the food of the Yucatan, including, naturally, tacos. Finally, someone pointed out that the 5th of May was coming -- you know, Cinco de Mayo.

So tacos it is: soft or hard, corn or flour, meat, fish, or veg. As always, we've got a few topics to get us started, including these on tacos al pastor, how to create a DIY taco stand, cabbage in tacos, and fish tacos. There are also tortilla recipes here and a reheating tortillas discussion here.

From cheap on the low-down to gussied-up, tacos run the gamut. What are your go-to recipes? Any that you've been dying to try? You can do better than a big fast food chain place, even if you want that ground beef Tex-Mex style of taco. Let's get cooking.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Excellent. I spied some nopales pads at Sanchez Market on Atwells Ave the other day, and I'm working on the fresh masa project. Oh, did I mention that my wife's mom contributed her flour tortilla recipe to The New American Cooking by Joan Nathan? She makes it with shortening; perhaps it's time to take a crack at a lard version.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Oh man, this thread is going to kill me! I've loved tacos ever since I started making my own corn tortillas last summer... But rolling them out is such a hassle to me, with all the sheets of plastic wrpa... At the same time the regular tortilla presses don't get them thin enough. I know someone on another site who got a cast iron tortilla press, and I am sorely tempted -- anyone here have one? Perhaps one good word about how easy and effective they are would throw me over the edge...

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Oh man, this thread is going to kill me! I've loved tacos ever since I started making my own corn tortillas last summer... But rolling them out is such a hassle to me, with all the sheets of plastic wrpa... At the same time the regular tortilla presses don't get them thin enough. I know someone on another site who got a cast iron tortilla press, and I am sorely tempted -- anyone here have one? Perhaps one good word about how easy and effective they are would throw me over the edge...

The thinnest tortillas I've been able to make were made using a heavy cast iron dutch oven. I put the ball of masa between two sheets of plastic (I like to cut apart freezer bags for this since they're thicker) and smash the dutch oven down on it. It makes a heck of a lot of noise, and a really thin tortilla :smile: . It's a good way to release some pent-up aggression, too!

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I can soo kick some taco ass

this one is on me ...my tacos ...

well you have not lived ...

sorry I can not plate artfully or take great pictures...but I can make some fantastic tacos... I will some this week and try to show how it is done ...really done ..

and I do serve them with real guacamole ..not avocado dip :raz:

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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At the same time the regular tortilla presses don't get them thin enough. I know someone on another site who got a cast iron tortilla press, and I am sorely tempted -- anyone here have one? Perhaps one good word about how easy and effective they are would throw me over the edge...

Mine is tinned cast iron and works like a champ.

This will be a great cook off.

As it happens I was planning to make some tacos later this week :).

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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In my culinary world "tacos" are almost a verb- the act of putting a tasty filling in a well made/heated tortilla. Have no comal, so I heat mine either on the rack of the toaster oven or on the grid of the stove. This last week was a mix of squid and shrimp as the protein, homemade salsa and because the avocados were still ripening - tzazki as the creamy element (hey garlic & crunch!), plus some spring greens. I look forward to seeing what you guys pile onto your tortillas.

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I'm in. Crema, crema, crema. You haven't lived until you have dolloped live cultured crema on a hot taco!

This is so American (and I mean "American" in the sense of originating in the America's - both north an south, and including central.) Such wanderers. Portable, includes all the food groups and nutrition, and darn good as well.

Tacos this week!

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I'm excited about all the response so far!

Don't fret if you can't make corn tortillas at home. It's OK to use store bought. That's what I do. Most cities will have a local tortilla factory, too. You can always go there if you don't want to buy the large national brands. (and I've used those too with success, especially for frying up my own hard taco shells)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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What a coincidence - I was about to post some taco pics in the dinner thread!

We really like the various seafood tacos we get at South Beach Bar & Grille here in San Diego, so we have re-created them at home.

Here is a grilled fish taco:

gallery_58047_5582_6547.jpg

and a shrimp taco:

gallery_58047_5582_87458.jpg

The key for me is the fresh salsa - tomato, onion and red cabbage with a nice vinegar bite to it. I'm not a big fan of the traditional white sauce - particularly on grilled (rather than battered and fried) tacos, so we leave it off when we make them at home.

We use "snack size" flour tortillas. For other kinds of tacos I generally prefer corn, but I really like flour in this case.

Food Blog: Menu In Progress

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For those of you who want to make home-made tortillas, but don't want to use up precious space for a true tortilla press, Bruce came up with a good solution -- see it in action here.

And, BTW, those bags that cereal come in inside boxes make an excellend sub for plastic wrap!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Here is a fish taco I did about a week ago. The recipe came in an email newsletter from CAH. Its a baked tilapia w/ a mango relish. As you can see, some of the coating is still dry. I liked the relish, but I much prefer grilling a meatier fish.

gallery_25969_665_329020.jpg

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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mindblowing lamb roasting for tacos now ..this however may take a while to show off

..I dont know how you all do this coordinating pictures with posts.. with cooking stuff? I get so sucked up in the process of aquiring all the things I need putting them together and then preparing them ..I forget to take pictures

ps I go to a taquerilla to get my corn tortillas ...no way will I make them when someone down the street can kick anglo butt

I do make flour ones but corn I leave to the pros..I know they are better than I am!!! no shame in that!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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mindblowing lamb roasting for tacos now ..this however may take a while to show off

..I dont know how you all do this coordinating pictures with posts.. with cooking stuff? I get so sucked up in the process of aquiring all the things I need putting them together and then preparing them ..I forget to take pictures

ps I go to a taquerilla to get my corn tortillas ...no way will I make them when someone down the street can kick anglo butt

I do make flour ones but corn I leave to the pros..I know they are better than I am!!! no shame in that!

I agree with the hummingbird.Ive got so many great tortillerias around my home that I never have to make corn tortillas.

"We do not stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing"

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Jeff either you were reading my mind or there is some kind of cosmic alignment going on here. The other day I stopped at the store for the ingredients for picadillo, refritos and fresh corn tortillas. I have a new dutch oven to season so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and make tacos.

Edited: for spelling, 4 years of 1st year Spanish down the drain.

Edited by JimH (log)
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I know you're not talking about me, around here it's too easy to get take out from a taqueria. Mmmmm barbacoa & lengua for breakfast tomorrow and I'm not cooking it!

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mindblowing lamb roasting for tacos now ..this however may take a while to show off

..I dont know how you all do this coordinating pictures with posts.. with cooking stuff? I get so sucked up in the process of aquiring all the things I need putting them together and then preparing them ..I forget to take pictures

ps I go to a taquerilla to get my corn tortillas ...no way will I make them when someone down the street can kick anglo butt

I do make flour ones but corn I leave to the pros..I know they are better than I am!!! no shame in that!

I agree with the hummingbird.Ive got so many great tortillerias around my home that I never have to make corn tortillas.

you gonna make some tacos Chef?

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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oh oh wasn't before but some how I am now getting a little nervous at my competition

All of this talk about tacos made me do a mercado run.so tonight is carnitas taco nite at the chefsteban casa. The pork is slow roasting right now. The tortillas are fresh from Lily's tortillas on University Ave. here in San Diego. I am cooking pinto beans that shall become refries to go with the tacos.

I've already made a tomatillo salsa.nothing, but nothing, is better with carnitas than a salsa verde con mucho sabor. I still need to chop onions, cilantro and tomatoes for the toppings, and, of course, ripe avocado rounds out the plate.........

"We do not stop playing because we grow old,

we grow old because we stop playing"

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Our go-to is the local carniceria's ranchera marinated beef. why fix it if it isn't broken! Plus they have this pork that is marinated with peppers and pineapple that is to die for. There is also something intriguing about the deep fried chunks of pork belly with skin too, not sure I am brave enough for that

Although for a recipe we have been known to take flap meat, coat it in carne asada seasoning purchased from a different carniceria - el Mexican Marquez Brothers brand (San Jose CA) (which lists chili pepper, onion, salt, garlic, cumin, lemon, beef base, paprica & sugar), add lots of cilantro, 4 or 5 limes squeezed over the top, plus 2 beers (Tecate or Pacifico). Let that marinate a while, then grill over hardwood charcoal

And they make fresh salsa, tortillas, beans, and soft telera rolls for the torta leftovers. All we do then is make fresh guacamole with avocados from my mother in law's trees.

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