Quite a lot of Mexican food finds its way onto our table. Tacos are by far the most prevalent. Carnitas, carne asada, eggs + chorizo, tinga, fresh seafood, nopales, barbacoa, smashed avocado, brisket, lengua, duck — you name it, our tacos have been filled with it.
But when it comes to deciding which is the ultimate vehicle for all these delicious fillings, we’re embroiled in a never-ending food fight.
He’s a crunchy hard shell guy, whereas I’m a sucker for a soft corn tortilla hot off the griddle.
Like any healthy relationship, there’s an equal amount of give and take. No place more than the kitchen, between two people who seriously love food, is it necessary to be aware of your partner’s feelings. The one exception to this rule is tacos. You read it here first.
It’s not something I’m proud of, really, but I’m all take in this instance. I’d rather eat my taco as a taco; not watch it crumble into taco salad. And in my defense, my loving fiancée is never one to turn down any taco placed in front of him.
Below are a few of our favorite tacos (perfect bites for tailgating!):
+ beer and chipotle-battered fish taco — spicy + delish
+ crispy taco picadillo with salsa picante (see, I do relent) — a Tex-Mex knockout; recipe below
+ Peking duck sweet potato hash in soft corn tortillas — our own creation, this was insane
+ Brazilian beer-marinated chicken taco with cantaloupe avocado salsa — zingy + refreshing
And if you’re in the mood for a road-trip:
+ barbacoa taco from The Donut Hole (Corpus Christi, TX)
+ puffy taco from Ray’s Drive-In (San Antonio, TX)
+ chorizo and egg breakfast taco from Taco Taco (San Antonio, TX)
+ either the grilled ponga or fried calamari taco from Tin Fish (Minneapolis, MN)
Texas is heavily represented in our favorites. I know many of you are nowhere near Texas, so I apologize and would love to hear about your ultimate tacos! Is there a little shack by the beach, tucked away from tourists? A trendy joint smack in the middle of a bustling food district? Maybe it’s a corner diner serving everything under the sun that just so happens to have the best darn taco you’ve ever tasted. Or do you work the taco magic in your own home? I’d like to know!
Crispy Tacos Picadillo with Salsa Picante [serves 4-5]
For the picadillo:
1 t vegetable oil
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped (3/4 c)
1/2 lb ground beef chuck
2 t minced garlic (1 small clove)
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped (1 1/4 c)
3/4 t paprika
1/2 t ancho chili powder (or sub 1/4 t cayenne + 1/4 t smoked paprika)
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 t freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
3/4 c water
1 t white vinegar
+ + +
For the tacos:
8 to 10 store-bought hard corn taco shells; or as Martha suggests, make your own
shredded lettuce, like iceberg or romaine
chopped white onion
salsa picante, recipe follows
shredded mild cheddar cheese, such as the longhorn variety
sour cream (optional)
To make the picadillo: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until just starting to turn translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add beef and cook, breaking up pieces with the back of a wooden spoon, until beef has browned, about 4 minutes. Spoon out excess fat so only 1 T remains. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, paprika, chili powder (or sub cayenne/paprika), oregano, salt, pepper and cumin. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until thick and very little liquid remains, about 18 minutes. Stir in vinegar.
To assemble the tacos: Spoon picadillo into each taco shell, and garnish with lettuce, onion, salsa picante, shredded cheese and/or sour cream.
+ + + + +
Salsa Picante [makes about 3 cups]
3/4 lbs vine tomatoes (canned works fine)
1 jalapeño, stems removed
1/4 large white onion, cut into small wedges
2 small garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 T water
2 t white vinegar
1/2 t coarse salt
Preheat broiler. Place tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning vegetables often and rotating baking sheet frequently, until tomatoes are blistered with dark spots and flesh is tender, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
When vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel garlic and remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeño. Puree garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, onion, water, vinegar and salt in a blender until almost smooth. Serve warm or chilled. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Adapted from Martha Stewart