Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Say No to Taco Seasoning

It's been a couple of years since I last wrote about tacos. We had them for dinner last night and I was recalling how they've been in regular rotation for, like, ever in my kitchen. With all the fixins - guacamole, salsas, beans, shredded lettuce and cheddar - you really can accommodate anyone who comes to the table.

I've been picking up 96/4 lean ground beef at Trader Joe's since we moved to Chicago. It's much leaner and makes a fine burger, and is super for tacos. If you use the leanest ground beef you won't have grease seeping out of the meat and into your coronary arteries, or worse, your taco shell.

As for the taco shell, I like the Bearitos ones at the generic 365 label at Whole Foods. Trader Joe's recently put some on their shelves that I plan to try. I always warm them up in my trusty toaster oven - just warm them in whatever oven you use for a few minutes to freshen them up.

The filling for tacos is easy to prepare. You need fresh garlic, onion, and chili powder and ground cumin - no silly jarred taco seasoning. I do it this way: saute the garlic and onion in a wee bit of canola oil. Then add the beef and brown it. Once it's cooked through I like to strain it, collecting the juices to feed to my grateful dog. Then, return the beef to the same pan and add the spices. The amount of spice will vary depending on how intense your spices are. I love my medium hot chili powder and cumin from The Spice House here in Chitown. For one pound of beef, I shake on about one tablespoon of chili powder and two teaspoons of cumin. Dry cook the spices on the beef to really bring out the flavors. Taste the meat after a few minutes, and add more spices and salt as you like. Then add about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and continue to cook for a few minutes. At this point it's done. I usually turn off the heat, cover it and let it sit while I make everything else.

One easy salsa I love for tacos and carnitas is this: chopped onion mixed with cilantro. I use it often in the winter, when fresh tomatoes have traveled too far for their own good.

Here are the recipes for a great meal:

Lean Beef Tacos with Black Beans, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, and Spanish Rice.

1 comment:

AC said...

On lean ground beef. I was disgusted with ground beef at the local markets, 80-90% lean, aka 10-20% FAT! Not to mention what else might be ground up in there. Then I remembered my mixer's meat grinder attachment. Picked up a nice lean sirloin steak, pork tenderloin and boneless chicken. Ground it all up to make the best meatballs ever. I don't think I'll ever buy pre-ground meat again.