For those of you who know me as a home cook or who follow my Instagram page of cooking and recipes and food interests in general, you probably know I love a good taco.
I think it’s one of the best foods you can make at home and quite honestly, one of the easiest. It’s like having street food at home all the time once you get a good recipe under your belt. The trick is definitely in flavoring the meat just right.
That said, I’m going to explain it all right here– and then how to build the taco once you’ve got the meat flavored properly.
First, in order to do it, you have to season the meat with things that are in the recipe below. My trick or secret is that I roast the meat with these spices, honey, and vinegar. It gives the meat have a deep, dark smoky flavor, in my opinion.
Once that’s done, you’ll move the meat to a Dutch oven and cook for a couple hours or until the meat pulls apart. If you’re not having any luck with the meat pulling apart easily, bring it out of the pot and pull it apart with a fork and a knife or two forks, whichever is easier.
Bring it back to the pot to continue cooking, stir it in and keep it hydrated until it’s ready to serve.
A few tips on taco building, and with all of the possible toppings, a little of everything goes a long way…
Warming the tortillas, don’t cook them. Whether made from scratch or bought prepared, they are already cooked prior to warming and should not be eaten straight from the package. I recommend eating only the ones with these ingredients at most: corn, lime (cal), and salt. Warm either over an open flame or on a comal, or thin steel pan, for no more than 20-30 seconds per side, warming two at a time. Once they’re nicely scorched, but not too much, wrap them a medium thick towel or place in a tortilla warmer.
Once you’ve made your own cooked beans, dollop a tablespoon of bean purée (refried-style) in the center of the tortilla and spread outward in a circular fashion, leaving about an inch of tortilla exposed. The layer of beans just coats and helps to keep the other ingredients in the right places.
On top of the beans is the single most important ingredient. Meat eaters top with meat. Non-meat eaters, top with fish or veggies. Shredded meat or chunks of meat allow the taco to be eaten bite by bite without playing tug of war with your teeth.
Garnish your taco with colorful, crisp vegetables such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and chopped onion, or simply pico de gallo or some sort of salsa. Pinch each topping with all four fingers and thumb and place by spreading on top of meat, fish or veggies.
A teaspoon of sour cream adds a little weight on top of the vegetables, contrasts the ingredients above and below, nourishes with dairy and cools the edge of the next topping.It also looks nice.
Salsa & Hot Sauce
Choose from your favorite flavors and styles. Popular ones include chipotle or tomatillo and Green tomatillo based salsas lighten the taco and give it a bit of refreshing flavor, in my opinion. Garnish on the sparse side with a few specks so as not to miss out, but not to overwhelm, either.
Citrus & Cheese
Squeeze a small wedge of lime on top of your masterpiece. If you have it, crumble a bit of Mexican cheese, too.
So, there you have it.
You may have just built one of the most remarkable and versatile three or four bites of your culinary life. Enjoy for breakfast (suhoor), lunch (after Ramadan), dinner (Iftar), late night snack (after Taraweeh night prayers), and of course with friends and family. This may not be your favorite Mexican restaurant’s tacos, but which would you prefer?
At home street food can now be a real thing…
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1-1/2 pounds fully trimmed beef brisket
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil + more for sautéing
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 4 cups water
- Black beans
- Sour cream
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Minced yellow onion
- Tomatillo salsa
- Hot sauce
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In medium bowl thoroughly mix dry ingredients with the honey. Add the meat, vinegar and olive oil and rub this mixture into the meat on all sides. Place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Once removed from the oven, transfer the meat to a large Dutch oven with a little olive oil. Gently heat the oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper then add the meat. Next add the water and Knorr halal beef bouillon. Mix thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
- Use two forks to pull apart the meat in preparation for the taco building. Heat the tortillas and prepare all the sides to build the perfect taco.