Taco Party!

For my mother’s birthday I had the opportunity to prepare tacos for the event.  I set it up as a taco bar with options so everyone could prepare their tacos as they saw fit.  For those who saw my Taco Man video on YouTube and are here for the particulars, I’ll get right to it:

 

Toppings:

Onions, diced

Cilantro, stems removed & chopped

Jalapenos, chopped and sauteed

Cabbage, shredded

Cheddar or “Mexican Blend” Cheese

Crumbled Cotija cheese

Salsa Verde (Green)

Salsa Rojo (Red)

Mexican Crema (Sour Cream)

Simple Guacamole:

    Avocado, cubed and mashed

    Salt

    Pepper

    Garlic Powder

    Onion, minced or dried flakes

 

Corn Tortillas

    Heat over a griddle on medium/low with vegetable or olive oil until edges start to brown and the tortilla starts to get crispy.

 

CARNE ASADA

 

3 lbs Beef, Flap Meat, Flank Steak, or Stir-Fry Meat (with high fat content)

Carne Seasoning

1 Onion, diced

1 Bunch Cilantro, stems removed & chopped

Red Wine Vinegar

 

Using flank steak, flap meat or pre-diced beef like stir-fry beef or bistec picado (minced steak) season liberally with prepared carne asada seasoning or salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano. Splash with red wine vinegar, and cover the meat with diced onions and cilantro. Whether cut into thin steaks or pre-minced, the meat on the sheet pan should be no more than 1” deep. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Keep all juices with the meat until ready to reheat. At this point if the meat is still in thin steaks, mince until most meat is in aproximatley ¼” cubes. A food processor with a “pulse” function may be used at this step if you chop the meat into manageable chunks, but be careful not to chop it too small. 

 

Reheat on hot griddle, using a metal turner to separate the meat back into a loose mince if refrigeration has congealed the pieces together.  Serve warm when the edges of the meat have browned and become crispy.  Be careful to not allow the meat to dry out.  If you have saved the juices from the baking you can add it back to prevent drying out

 

CHICKEN

 

3 lbs Raw Chicken

Pollo Seasoning

1 Onion, dIced

1 Bunch cilantro, stems removed & chopped

2-3 Limes

 

Using a mix of boneless white and dark meat or pre-minced raw chicken, season liberally with prepared Mexican Pollo seasoning or salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano. Squeeze the juice of 2-3 limes, and cover the chicken with diced onions, cilantro and the lime rinds. Whether pre-chopped or whole,  the meat on the sheet pan should be no more than 1” deep. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Keep all juices with the chicken until ready to reheat. At this point if the meat is still whole, mince until most meat is in aproximatley ¼” cubes. A food processor with a “pulse” function may be used at this step if you chop the chicken into manageable chunks, but be careful not to chop it too small. 

 

Reheat on hot griddle, using a metal turner to separate the meat back into a loose mince if refrigeration has congealed the pieces together.  Serve warm when the edges of the chicken have browned and become crispy.  Be careful to not allow the meat to dry out.  If you have saved the juices from the baking you can add it back to prevent drying out

 

CARNITAS 

A Pork Shoulder or Butt

Kosher Salt

2 Onions, diced

1 Bunch cilantro, stems removed and chopped

¼ Cup fresh oregano

2 Oranges, quartered

6-8 Whole bay leaves

 

Cut a pork butt or shoulder into 2” cubes. Trim off most of the meat around any bones present; larges bones can be left with a layer of meat still attached. Sear about half of the pork cubes in a piping hot steel or cast iron pot (NOT TEFLON- 450+ degree temperatures required to sear meat will ruin Teflon pans and cause the non-stick coating to flake off into your food.) Move the cubes of pork around so several sides of the cubes can come in direct contact with the hot metal until most sides are brown. 

 

You can transfer the meat to a slow cooker at this point (be sure to deglaze the brown bits off the bottom of the searing pot with cold water and pour all the resulting liquid into your slow cooker) or continue in the same pot if it is large enough and you have a lid to cover it. Salt the pork liberally, then add two diced onions, a cup of chopped cilantro, a quarter cup of fresh oregano, and then squeeze the juice of the quartered oranges into the pot and then put in the orange rinds too.  Set a sprig of bay leaves on top and fill the pot with water nearly to the top of the ingredients. Cover the pot with a lid but make sure to leave it off set just a bit to allow for evaporation. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to very low simmer and let it cook for 6-8 hours, making sure that there is always water in the pot. Stir occasionally For a slow cooker, just set it to Low.

 

When the pork pulls apart easily and falls off any bones, remove the chunks of meat from the pan and strain the juice from all the onions, oranges, and herbs and discard. Keep the juice. Use forks to pull apart the chunks of pork.

 

Reheat on hot griddle, using a metal turner to separate the meat if refrigeration has congealed the pieces together.  Serve warm when the edges of the pork have browned and become crispy.  Be careful to not allow the meat to dry out.  If you have saved the juices from the slow cook, you can add it back to prevent drying out.

 

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