Can we chat briefly about tacos? They are on my “If you were on a deserted island and had to pick only three foods to eat for the rest of your life, what would they be?” list. If the cleanup were less catastrophic, I would make tacos every. Blessed. Day. Of. My. Life. But sweet Lord, they require every pan that I own. It’s a good thing too, because I would be off the rails if this weren’t the case. Tacos are like hairstyles, I think. Everybody does them a little different and some are amazing…others are tragic. I have strong opinions about tacos and I think mine are the hairstyle equivalent of the messy bun. They are the go-to, the comfy, the coy. You can dress them up for the evening or literally roll out of bed into them for breakfast. They really are everything. Tacos have three basic elements: The shell, the meat and the toppings. We will be working backward here because we can.
There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to taco toppings. I will share with you my favorite because frankly, I have eaten MOST of the taco toppings on this green earth and I have narrowed it down so just trust me here. DEFINITELY try my Next Level Guacamole - you can whip that up quick and it will just be completely over for you in the very best way. The Black Bean Corn Relish is our starting point.
I have never loved the word “relish”. I’m not sure why but it’s just not my favorite. But this relish IS my favorite. The longer this mix has a chance to consummate in the fridge (I’m telling you, something special happens in there), the better. Make this first, even earlier in the day to give it the max in lovin’ time. Grab a block of Monterey Jack and shred it. Yes, SHRED IT. Yourself. This is one of the easiest ways to up your taco game. That pre-shredded stuff is Gross with a capital G. Cheese is not supposed to be covered in powder. You can use the bagged stuff if you want. This is a free country. But please, if you love yourself, take the 26 seconds and grate it. Chop you up some fresh cilantro because Jesus made it for you. Chop a tomato. Grab some Tequila Lime salsa and bless my children.
And the salt shaker – everything hinges on the getting enough salt on there to make the flavors dance the hula on your tongue. Perhaps the most pivotal of taco toppings are The Beans.
This is how I do them – again, it’s a free country but once you make these, you will open every can of beans for the rest of your life wishing you had just made these ahead of time. I’m not kidding. They could not be easier. You can even make them the same day if you rise with the dawn. You’re welcome.
The meat. Please do not even THINK about ground beef here. It’s basically heresy to the taco. I’m not sure who decided ground beef was even allowed in tacos but they were likely depressed. Because I am whenever I see ground beef in a taco. I have made these tacos with chicken (please), pork carnitas (amazeballs) and The Best Chuck Roast You’ve Ever Put In Your Mouth (←). Tonight, I did the latter and it was well with my soul. This is a leftover hack – I made the roast during the day yesterday and it was our dinner with carrots and mashed potatoes. There are numerous delightful things you can concoct with leftover T.B.C.R.Y.E.P.I.Y.M. but this is one of my favorites. Just put it in the skillet and you do not even have to season it. If you must, throw a little cumin and garlic salt in as it’s heating in the skillet but STOP YOURSELF THERE. Seriously, it stands alone. You can even see some carrots in
If I’m doing chicken, I cheat and shred a rotisserie from the store or do my own in the crock pot if I’m feeling domestic. Again, heat it in the skillet with come cumin and garlic salt. The point here is to let the flavors complement each other, not just season everything the same way. For roasted pork, I like to hit it with some Cavender’s Greek seasoning and add fresh squeezed lime at serving. The recipe for my Crock Pot Carnitas is in the pipeline but I can only do so much at a time, people. In closing of the meat section, just don’t do ground beef under any circumstances. It is the frozen pizza of tacos.
The shell. This is California Style. I don’t know if that’s a thing but I’m from California and I do it so I’m rolling with it. In an ideal world, I would live next door to a sweet Mexican lady named Margarita who would make me fresh corn tortillas in exchange for snow-blowing her driveway all winter. But I don’t. It’s ok, though, because California Style redeems even the store bought shell from its otherwise bland and flavorless existence. Get out your biggest skillet and heat up about ¼ in. deep of peanut, canola or some other vegetable oil over medium.
Then put those sorry little packaged shells right in there, fold them in half and fry till they’re JUST starting to get tan. Then flip, cook the same on that side and set them on a paper-towel covered plate to let the grease drain off. I just ate these an hour ago and I’m already hungry for them again. You can do flour shells if you must. I’m a corn girl thru and thru because my Daddy raised me right. I live in a house divided on this point and all is fair in love and tacos. Except ground beef and powdery cheese. Now for the fun part…stuff it. All.
Please do not feel like a failure at life when you struggle to get all the goodness inside of your shell. This is an art form that takes some a lifetime to perfect…be patient with yourself. Trust me, this labor of love rewards you with every bite. Shake up a few of my Next Level Margaritas and get down on it!
P.S. Please promise me that tomorrow morning you will put all of this in a skillet over scrambled eggs. Rejoice and be glad.
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