Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Tacos al Pastor (at home!)

I was able to find a recipe from Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, and when you get a great recipe like this one, don’t mess with it!  I’ve tried to make tacos mimicking the tacos al pastor from Mexico before, but without that upright spit to grill it all on, it is very difficult to achieve. We found this to be the closest thing I could do at home.

Serve it with Mexican Pickled Vegetables, Pickled Red Onions and it is a real hit.

INGREDIENTS

  • A 3 1/2ounce packageachiote paste
  • 3canned chipotle chile en adobo, plus 4 tablespoons of the canning sauce
  • 1/4cup vegetable or olive oil, plus a little more for the onion and pineapple
  • 1 1/2pounds thin-sliced pork shoulder (1/4-inch-thick slices are ideal—the kind Mexican butchers sell for making tacos al pastor)
  • 1medium red onion, sliced 1/4- inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1/4of a medium pineapple, sliced 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 20 warm corn tortillas
  • About 1 1/2cups raw tomatillo salsa
tacos al pastor 1.JPG

If you have a great butcher, have him slice the meat super fine – you’ll be thankful!

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender, combine the achiote paste, chiles, canning sauce, oil and 3/4 cup water. Blend until smooth. Use 1/3 of the marinade to smear over both sides of each piece of meat (refrigerate the rest of the marinade to use on other meat or fish). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

tacos al pastor 3

Marinate for at least an hour, but I did this overnight.  The flavour gets right through the meat.

Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with gray ash but still very hot; bank the coals to one side and set the grill grate in place. Or, heat one side of a gas grill to high. Brush both sides of the onions slices with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay in a single layer on the hot side of the grill. When richly browned, usually just about a minute, flip and brown the other side; move to the cool side of the grill to finish softening to grilled-onion sweetness. Oil and grill the pineapple in the same way. Finally, in batches, grill the meat: it’ll take about a minute per side as well. As the meat is done, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it up (between 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces). Scoop into a skillet and set over the grill to keep the meat warm. Chop the onion and pineapple into small pieces as well, add them to the skillet and toss everything together. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Serve with the tortillas and salsa for your guests to make soft tacos.

Tacos al Pastor

When in Mexico, one of our favorite street foods is Tacos al Pastor. We can’t equal the flavour at home without an upright spit to grill it, but this is a close second!

A plate of pork, seasoned with Tacos al Pastor flavours and just waiting for fresh corn tortillas!

A plate of pork, seasoned with Tacos al Pastor flavours and just waiting for fresh corn tortillas!

1-4 lbs pork “butt” or blade roast (just make sure it is a cheaper cut, well marbled)
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
2 ancho chiles
2 guajillo chiles
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
5 clove garlic, peeled
A few sprigs of oregano (or 1 tbsp dried oregano)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 large onion, sliced
Slices of pineapple
4 – 6 carrots, peeled and kept whole

1. Put the ancho and guajillo chiles in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the chiles to steep until they are rehydrated, about 30 minutes. Discard the seeds and stems and toss the chiles in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients, except onion.

2. Slice the roast into 3/4inch thick slices, but not all the way through.

3. I usually put on plastic gloves for this part – the marinade REALLY stains …Slather the marinade between each layer until all the meat is covered. Stack the onion and pineapple slices in between the slices of meat. Tie the roast back together. Cover it and allow it to marinade for at least 3 hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 245 °C (475 °F). Put the roast on a row of carrots in the bottom of a roasting pan and add water to the bottom of the pan (this is to keep the drippings from smoking). You can use a meat rack if you want, but those carrots will be incredibly delicious if you use them for a roasting rack! Roast for 30 minutes at this temperature then turn down the heat to 160 °C (300 °F). Roast until the meat is very tender (about 3 hours).

5. After removing the meat from the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

6. Pull or shred meat apart

Out of the oven, and ready to rest for 30 minutes or so before shredding.

Out of the oven, and ready to rest for 30 minutes or so before shredding.

Serve with:

fresh corn tortillas
minced white onion
roughly chopped cilantro

Zihuatenajo

Something about beach life just makes everything slower …. like sleeping 9-10 hours a night …..

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

In the past we have stayed at Angela’s Hostel – it is now named Angelita’s Hostel – but closed and up for sale. We chose a smaller hotel right down the street – Fiesta Paraiso. The beds are super hard, but otherwise the rooms are comfy and clean – and the pool is delightful. If we only had a kitchen it would be great for a longer stay. And – 400 pesos per night which is pretty close to perfect.

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso - pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach ...

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso – pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach …

Along with beach towns comes a more limited menu and every little beach palapa will pretty much have the same thing on the menu, so pick the place with the comfiest looking chairs! We did yesterday – at Los Gatos beach and enjoyed a great day in the sunshine, swimming, reading and chatting with Canadian neighbours … yes, only Canadians at our little chosen spot. The couple next to us – Alison and Rauz, are a retired couple from Kelowna and they stated we have given them the encouragement they needed to explore a bit more, in particular Mexico City. No doubt we will get together at home to share a few notes! (and maybe a glass of wine)

The beach at Los Gatos - an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo - beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in - just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat - they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!!  (whether or not you need it) :o)

The beach at Los Gatos – an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo – beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in – just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat – they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!! (whether or not you need it) :o)

After our return from the beach we wandered up to a place recommended – Taqueria Papas Loca. This place takes baked stuffed potato to a whole new level. They had a whole row of baked potatoes ready to go, which they then stuff with your choice of fillings; I chose bacon, shrimp and tomato, Grant chose tacos al pastor, pork and pineapple. They were delicious! Huge too … we really should have shared!

These guys work crazy fast - choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

These guys work crazy fast – choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

As you can see - you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot.  There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan.  This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around.  Just as many takeouts as eating in.

As you can see – you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot. There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan. This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around. Just as many takeouts as eating in.

Today’s activity was much like yesterday …. beaching it! We walked to La Ropa beach and sat ourselves on the lounge chairs, much like the other Canadian and American tourists and sunned ourselves, swam in the waves and read our books – this after a 10 hour sleep!! When we were exhausted form all that activity we dragged ourselves upstairs and enjoyed a massage with the sound of the waves crashing while we had a very therapeutic massage – those girls really knew what they were doing.

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

ahhhhhhhh

ahhhhhhhh

Walking back we noticed an Italian getting his place ready to go, so ordered a Napolitano pizza (he is from Naples, and this is his specialty), tomato sauce, anchovies and capers. It was delicious, and we ate that as an appie beside the pool.

Tomorrow we are heading out – perhaps to Barra de Potosi, a very small beach town not far from here …. if it has adequate internet access you will no doubt hear from us there!

Barbacoa (Mexican Beef Tacos)

If you love beef tacos, don’t look any further than this recipe.  We have enjoyed more than our fair share of Mexican street tacos, and these fit right in there.

6-8 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp mexican chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup cider vinegar

3 chipotle chiles, in adobo sauce

1 tbsp mexican oregano

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2-3/4 cup chicken stock

Blend all ingredients together in food processor – be sure to taste it and adjust seasonings.  You really want it tangy and full of taste – if you are cooking this the next day put roast in a ziplock bag with the adobo sauce and marinate overnight.

Taste the sauce before putting it over the beef – if necessary you may have to adjust a bit – keep tasting for balance of flavour!

3 pound bone in chuck roast – MAKE SURE YOU USE A CUT WITH SOME FAT RUNNING THROUGH IT – a leaner cut of beef won’t give the same result!

Put roast in the bottom of a slow cooker, and then pour adobo sauce over.  Add enough water to come half way up the roast.  Put lid on and cook on slow for 6 hours.

Remove liquid from cooker and reduce in saucepan until sauce has thickened and is deliciously rich.  Shred beef with two forks.  When liquid has reduced by about half, return liquid to meat.

Serve with fresh tortillas, cole slaw, pickled red onions, and slices of avocado.  You will think you are on the streets of Mexico City!

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled onions

Cebollas en Escabeche

Makes 1cup

 

INGREDIENTS

1 small red onion, peeled
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Salt

 You really need to use fresh squeezed lime juice for this – nothing in a jar!

DIRECTIONS

With a knife or food processor, thinly slice the onions.  Scoop into a non-reactive bowl.  Pour boiling water over them, count to 10, then immediately pour the onions into a strainer.  Shake off all the water, pour the onions back into the bowl, pour on the lime juice and stir in the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

These will last for a week or more in the refrigerator. (I usually make a big batch and they last weeks)

Pollo Verde y Cerveza or Beer Braised Green Chicken

This is a quick and easy dish – try making enough for a couple of meals and you have filling ready for quesadillas or tacos later in the week.

quick and easy chicken in salsa verde

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup chopped white onion

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ancho chile powder

1 tsp dried Mexican oregano, crumbled

1/4 tsp salt

1 12 ounce Mexican Beer (I like Dos Equis)

1 11-12 oz can of tomatilloes (or if you have your own salsa verde already made – use that)

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1 pound chicken breast – cut into tenderloins

In heavy sauce pan sauce onion in oil until soft and translucent, add garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.  Add butter, spices and oregano.  Cook and stir just until the butter has melted.

Add beer, tomatillos (or salsa verde) and jalapeno pepper.

Bring broth back to boil, stir in chicken and turn temperature down to allow chicken to simmer.  Cook gently for about 15-20 minutes, just until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from liquid, and allow liquid to boil until it has reduced and thickened – about another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, shred it and return it to the liquid mixture.

Absolutely delicious as a taco or quesadilla filling, or served with homemade tortillas, mexican rice and vegetables.