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jsmeeker

Tacos--Cook-Off 39

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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.

WHAT??? you go to a shop and buy virtually everything ready made, then you say all you have to do is make guacamole??? I am surprised that you just don't buy the ready made Wholey Guacamole brand or some such.lol.

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the boy from Texas is not going to make any tacos??? :sad:

Oh, I'm making tacos tonight but I don't have anything special to put in them. Tomorrow though, I'll be making a grocery run so perhaps I can come up with something. You know, I might even go get a crockpot tonight so I can make lengua. Although I think the ladies would miss me if I stopped going for breakfast tacos on the weekends. If I have the time tonight salsa verde, tomorrow who knows?

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Has anyone ever made hard taco shells with something other than corn tortillas?  My husband is allergic to corn.  Thus, we never eat tacos.  I've been toying with the idea of a semolina tortilla shell.    :unsure:

I guess that's a 'no'.

I've fried the smaller white flour and whole wheat tortillas before. They don't get quite as crunchy as the corn but they're still good. Definitely worth your time. :smile:

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I've fried the smaller white flour and whole wheat tortillas before. They don't get quite as crunchy as the corn but they're still good. Definitely worth your time.  :smile:

Excellent! Thanks for your feedback.

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I make tacos at home all the time, but in the spirit of the cookoff, tonight I'm pushing the envelope. I've never made fish tacos, though I have them out all the time. So, without further ado...

Fish Tacos, step-by-step

First step to fish tacos is beans! Can't have tacos without beans... can't have beans without pork fat. That's the leftover pork skin from my last batch of bacon:

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Next up, the tortillas: I make them with masa harina since fresh masa is not available where I live. I am not exactly a tortilla pro, so I follow the instructions from one of Rick Bayless's books. You use two different pans, one at medium-low heat and one at medium-high. After pressing out the tortilla it goes on the medium-low heat for 15 seconds, then is flipped onto the high heat for 30 seconds or so. When it gets flipped the final time, still on the high heat, it puffs up like a pita if everything has worked out right:

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Next up, the salsa. Since tomatoes are not exactly in season I use canned tomatoes (don't cringe, they actually work pretty well!). This is sorta based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated...

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Now, the final prep before frying the fish:

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I'm using red snapper tonight, battered using a simple flour and baking-powder batter for an extremely light, crispy coating.

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Finally, the assembled taco:

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Nice job amigo. You just can't beat good home cooking. your finished product had my mouth watering; and I just finished my carnitas tacos, which by the way, were superb.

Again a high five fir a job well done.

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I'm a no good, dirty cheater. The next city over from me has a large population of Mexican immigrants. One of the Mexican markets has fresh corn tortillas daily. Time to time, I also get marinated pork or beef for tacos.

I'm so in for this one.

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Chris,

what do you use to fry? Do you have a dedicated deep fryer? I like to deep fry, but the thought of frying up a tiny amount of fish for tacos for one really keeps me from doing it.

I'll make tacos this weekend. Trying to think what kind I will make. I'm really digging on the idea of some sort of seafood taco.

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what do you use to fry?  Do you have a dedicated deep fryer?

I have one, but I never use it! I usually just put some peanut oil in a 5 quart stock pot. Especially with fish, where it cooks so quickly, you don't need that much oil, in my experience. I use about a quart of oil in my 4.5 qt Le Creuset: maybe an inch? I heat it to about 400 F, drop in the fish "nuggets," the temp drops to maybe 350, but by the time the thermometer has registered that drop, the fish is done. That much oil will run $3-$4 where I am if you buy it one quart at a time, and it made enough fish for about a dozen tacos and could have made more. The per-unit cost isn't too bad.

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Nice job amigo. You just can't beat good home cooking. your finished product had my mouth watering; and I just finished my carnitas tacos, which by the way, were superb.

Again a high five fir a job well done.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm carnitas tacos ........no pictures to share??? Chef I am so bummed! :sad:

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Last night was chicken tacos with guacamole, queso fresco, crema, salsa verde and a side of chilled Tecate w/ a bit of mexican lime in it.

I tried using some fresh masa from the supermercado and honestly prefer the taste and texture I get using maseca. That was kind of a bummer since I was hoping for a nicer tortilla using the "better" product.

The chicken was very nice. I kind of start out the same way I would for Carnitas -

Cube up a couple pounds of skinless/boneless thighs, place in a dutch oven add stock to barely cover. A chopped onion, fresh roasted/ground cumin and coriander, a little chipoltle, 5-6 cloves roughly chopped garlic, a few bay leaves and a couple limes worth of juice.

Simmer for an hour or so partly covered then uncover and consider it ready when the chix is just shy of au sec. This way the meat is nice and moist but not drippy. I've tried taking this to the browning stage and the results were not as tasty, probably doable if fat were added though.

The guacamole was extremely simple just mashed avocado, a little sea salt, knife point's worth of smoked cayenne. No citrus juice added since it would not last long enough to oxidize and I don't especially care for a citrus note in guac anyway.

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Nice job amigo. You just can't beat good home cooking. your finished product had my mouth watering; and I just finished my carnitas tacos, which by the way, were superb.

Again a high five fir a job well done.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm carnitas tacos ........no pictures to share??? Chef I am so bummed! :sad:

Nope..no pics. I consider cameras to be a pain in the patoot.

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Last night we had tacos with skirt steak, corn and tomato salsa, guacamole and salsa verde.

My original idea was to make flour tortillas from an old recipe in Fine Cooking magazine which I'd always wanted to try, but we got a late start on dinner, so we just used tortillas from the grocery store. I'll try making them next time.

The skirt steak was marinated in orange and lime juice, chipotle, garlic, salt and oil. Ordinarily I add cumin, but I forgot.

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Skirt steak searing.

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Heating the tortillas.

Building the taco.

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The salsa verde was charred tomatillos, poblanos and jalapenos, pureed with onion, cilantro, salt, lime and cumin.

The corn salsa has tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, and avocado, seasoned with cumin and red pepper flakes.

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Jaz that looks just awesome. I was about to go out for pho but now I may have to find a taco stand instead.

--yeah I know I had tacos for dinner yesterday but there is no such thing as too often for tacos in my book.


Edited by 6ppc (log)

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I found my new favorite taqueria this morning, Taqueria Marquez. Ok, so I cheated, I'm lazy too lazy to make barbacoa or lengua but they probably make it better than I can. Tender meat on warm corn tortillas with tomato, onion & jalapeno w/ their orange salsa. There was so much meat that I made another taco out of what was leftover. I took pictures of last night's tacos and the cheaters that I bought, but I'm having trouble uploading to imageGullet. I'll try again later.

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You guys are making me drool- looks like I picked the wrong month to quit mainlining pork fat. I made some diet tacos today- my way- hopefully these will qualify as such:

gallery_21237_2573_321592.jpg

That extremely red color is from beets (it's still on my fingers, fwiw). In there are some sliced red onion, jalapenos, cilantro, toasted cumin seeds, perfect avacado slices, and the cheese is feta cuz that's what I had in the house.

The fattiness of the cheese and avacado were a perfect foil for those beets- these things totally rocked, if I do say so myself. :rolleyes:

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Back from the grocery store. I actually had some tacos there for lunch before shopping (tacos al pastor). Very tasty.

Instead of buying stuff to make some sort of seafood taco, I decided to go with beef. I bought what I think is skirt steak, but it was labeled as "Fajita Meat". I'll take a pic of it later when I make the tacos on Sunday. I've got some onions at home. I bought a small avocado to make some guacamole. And some Chihuahua cheese. I'll simply cook up the meat in the cast iron skillet like Janet did. Cook some onion, then assemble with the beef, onions, some guac, and some of the cheese. I've got some sort of bottled Herdez brand salsa. Maybe I'll toss some of that on there, too. Not sure what you call other than "taco"

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I'd like to try define some of the words/terms commonly associated with tacos for people who don't speak Spanish, or for people that just aren't totally sure what they all mean. Is it about an ingredient? A process or preparation? Here are a few terms to start off with. I'll make an attempt to define or describe them myself with the assistance of various online sources, including eGullet forums.

Al Pastor. Al Carbon. Carnitas. Lengua.

al Pastor -- "shepherd style". Some type of marinated pork that is then cooked on a rotisserie and sliced thin. (similar to a gyro, it seems) Also, pineapple is involved somehow. Can you do it without the rotisserie? that's how the ones I had today were make. marinated chunks of pork that were then cooked on a griddle. there was pineapple in there.

al Carbon -- "grilled over charcoal". marinated beef. Then grilled over hot charcoal. Must it be beef to call it "al carbon"? What kind/cut of beef? Can it be "al carbon" if it's not over charcoal?

carne asada -- "grilled meat". how is this different than al Carbon??

carnitas -- "small meats". Usually, pork and most commonly pork shoulder. Seasoned and then braised or slow roasted. Then, chopped up and roasted at high heat for a few minutes to crisp up the outside some.

lengua -- "tongue" . This is about all I know. It's cow's tongue

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Jeff - great overview of a very diverse subject. I'm definitely no expert, but I thought I'd add a few comments based on my experiences:

al Pastor  --  "shepherd style".  Some type of marinated pork that is then cooked on a rotisserie and sliced thin. (similar to a gyro, it seems) Also, pineapple is involved somehow.

Al Pastor is a Mexico City specialty and is, as you say similar in preparation to a gyro. The pineapple sits on the top of the meat and is carved off in little hunks to garnish the tacos. You can see pictures and a video here from El Tizoncito in D.F.

al Carbon  --  "grilled over charcoal".  marinated beef.  Then grilled over hot charcoal.  Must it be beef to call it "al carbon"?  What kind/cut of beef?  Can it be "al carbon" if it's not over charcoal?

It doesn't need to be beef - I had some awesome conejo (rabbit) al carbon a few months ago in Xochimilco.

carne asada  -- "grilled meat".  how is this different than al Carbon??

In my experience with carne asada, which is admittedly more SoCal than Mexican, carne asada is grilled on a griddle, not over coals - hence the difference from "al carbon".

carnitas  --  "small meats".  Usually, pork and most commonly pork shoulder.  Seasoned and then braised or slow roasted. Then, chopped up and roasted at high heat for a few minutes to crisp up the outside some.

I think that "small meats", generally pork is the key. I'd always thought of as carnitas as a discrete thing - as in "I'll have the carnitas tacos, please", until in Oaxaca when I encountered carnitas taco stands where that would be distinctly ambiguous. The most popular were "de todo", which were a mixture of all of the spare bits - mostly head with a bit of offal. Very tasty.


Edited by menuinprogress (log)

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You guys are making me drool- looks like I picked the wrong month to quit mainlining pork fat. I made some diet tacos today- my way- hopefully these will qualify as such:

gallery_21237_2573_321592.jpg

That extremely red color is from beets (it's still on my fingers, fwiw). In there are some sliced red onion, jalapenos, cilantro, toasted cumin seeds, perfect avacado slices, and the cheese is feta cuz that's what I had in the house.

The fattiness of the cheese and avacado were a perfect foil for those beets- these things totally rocked, if I do say so myself. :rolleyes:

I love that you kept the cilantro leaves *on* the stems. Too many folks strip the stems and toss them out.

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Ok everyone's tacos look and sound so fantastic!!! I am on a roll cooking but the posting stuff ...well as much fun as I have had making tacos ... a taco pictorial in this box is making my head explode ..so I made a blog and will add the tacos I make there I guess ...it looks so easy when everyone just whips these things out in picture form!

my first taco is a simple but wonderful Navajo taco

this is easy ..quick to assemble and can be eaten anywhere!

the trick is in the pefect fry bread and the beans (my camera takes very light pictures so I am sorry you can not see my beans are actually dark brown :sad: )


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

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this sounds fantastic ..your guacamole is as guacamole should be .anything more to me is avocado "dip"!

Last night was chicken tacos with guacamole, queso fresco, crema, salsa verde and a side of chilled Tecate w/ a bit of mexican lime in it.

I tried using some fresh masa from the supermercado and honestly prefer the taste and texture I get using maseca. That was kind of a bummer since I was hoping for a nicer tortilla using the "better" product.

The chicken was very nice. I kind of start out the same way I would for Carnitas -

Cube up a couple pounds of skinless/boneless thighs, place in a dutch oven add stock to barely cover. A chopped onion, fresh roasted/ground cumin and coriander, a little chipoltle, 5-6 cloves roughly chopped garlic, a few bay leaves and a couple limes worth of juice.

Simmer for an hour or so partly covered then uncover and consider it ready when the chix is just shy of au sec. This way the meat is nice and moist but not drippy. I've tried taking this to the browning stage and the results were not as tasty, probably doable if fat were added though.

The guacamole was extremely simple just mashed avocado, a little sea salt, knife point's worth of smoked cayenne. No citrus juice added since it would not last long enough to oxidize and I don't especially care for a citrus note in guac anyway.

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the trick is in the pefect fry bread and the beans (my camera takes very light pictures so I am sorry you can not see my beans are actually dark brown  :sad: )

Heidi those look great!

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We made Two kinds.

On the left are Lamb strips marinating in Shawarma spices, on the right, Lamb strips marinating in Mexican Chorizo spices.

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Shawarma tacos were toped with tomatoes, pickled Turnips, Tahini sauce (Tarator), and a parsley/onion/sumac salad.

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Chorizo tacos topped with tomatoes and parsley/onion/sumac salad.

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Chef Crash -- those look amazing! I'm particularly intrigued by your "chorizo spice" rub, as I'm a chorizo junkie! Could you post the recipe for it?

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