Growing up, Dad made the best tacos. What made his tacos so flavorful? It was the blend of meat filling – Ground Chuck and good quality Chorizo. By good quality Chorizo, I mean the good stuff you find in a Mexican Meat Market – the stuff sold in bulk, not in plastic tubes in the grocery store. Dad had a couple of steps in his cooking process that I have eliminated. He cooked the ground chuck in one skillet, the chorizo in another. The reason was simple. My youngest sister was not a chorizo eater. Even today, anything with a little spicy heat, and she simply cannot handle it. Dad would set aside enough ground chuck filling for her tacos, then blend the two meats together for the rest of us. Fortunately, my family loves spicy heat – the more the better. So cooking up both meats in one big, deep Cast Iron skillet is a snap.
Cast Iron – I cannot sing the praises of Cast Iron enough – especially when it comes to cooking up anything “ground”. Nothing else compares – the meat can be easily broken up as it cooks, creating the perfect little balls of seasoned meats. Cast Iron can take the heat of an oven, a broiler, an open flame over a camp fire. I have four and counting.
While the inspiration for my Beef and Chorizo tacos came from my Dad, like any good home chef, I’ve made a few changes to claim these delicious tacos as my own. Dad didn’t add much in the way of seasonings to his meat filling. Taco sauce was served at the table to flavor the meat. I like the spices in the meat rather than simply on the meat. I’ve also added a little splash of beef stock and tomato paste for added flavor, and to create a filling that is moist.
When I make tacos, I don’t like to drain off the fat right away. Why? Because there is a heap of good flavor in the fat drippings, especially in the chorizo. Instead, I’ll add in my dry taco seasonings, remove the pan from the heat for a minute and give it a good stir. The seasoning will absorb some of that fat drippings with all those wonderful flavors and keep it where it belongs, in the meat. Read any packet of taco seasonings – drain and add water. Why water? To moisten the seasonings. So why not use the flavorful drippings in the pan? Okay – if you are looking for a more healthy taco, by all means drain well and add the water. But if what you are going for is full flavor, season first, then drain.
Spicy Beef and Chorizo Tacos
Ingredients – Taco Filling
1 lb Ground Beef (Chuck has the most flavor)
1 Lb Bulk Chorizo Meat (the good stuff)
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
2 tablespoons Beef Stock
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
In a large cast iron skillet, crumble the ground beef and chorizo meat together. Over medium-high heat, brown the meat mixture, breaking it into small pieces as it browns. DO NOT DRAIN right away. Add seasonings to absorb some of the fat (it’s packed with flavor).
Transfer meat to a colander that is inside a large bowl to catch the grease. (This prevents the unwanted grease from going down the sink and making a mess of your pipes. Once drained, simply discard grease into a can and toss). Using a wooden spoon, stir the meat while in the colander to drain completely without squeezing out the good stuff. Once meat has completely drained, return to the skillet. If there are any large pieces remaining, break them into small pieces.
Add beef stock and tomato paste, stirring to combine completely. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
Ingredients – Taco Garnish
½ Lettuce head, shredded
¼ – ½ Cup Roasted Jalapeño Peppers, finely chopped
3-4 Tomatoes, chopped
½ lb Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded
½ Cup Sour Cream
Taco Sauce and/or Salsa
Chop tomatoes, avocados or whatever else your want as a garnish. Sour cream, grated cheese – it’s all good.
To shred lettuce, stack leafs, roll tight (like a cigar) and slice thin. Perfect every time!
Ingredients – Soft Shell
12 Corn Tortillas
Heat a flat griddle over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Lightly spray both sides of corn tortilla and quick fry to soften shell. Stack in a shallow dish or tortilla dish and repeat until all the tortillas are soft-fried.