Taco Pronto

Music Pairing: Aaron Copland, El Salon Mexico

Story

This is a version of a dinner favorite that saves times and effort but grants abundantly in flavor and satisfaction.  For fellow vegetarians, Afa suggests a version of this Casa Dworkin classic made with any of the great meat alternatives available on the market (Beyond Meat and Impossible Chorizo come to mind first).  This recipe comes from a time when both of our children were still living at home and we worked to create good recipes to share on a weekday evening.  We would get together for dinner, enjoy each other, the food and then an episode of either Modern Family or Big Bang Theory (sadly for us, the kids are all grown and neither enjoys those shows anymore…. excepting a rare moment of bribery and nostalgia).  Both boys enjoy a version that use meat and beans, while we left the beans out.  Note that these can be made with hard shells (preferred by most in this household) or soft corn tortillas (probably slightly more authentic).  The key to it all is flavor: we make a quick version of a Spanish inspired “sofrito” to add abundant flavor to the meat (or the meat substitute).  While the exact origins of tacos are not certain, they are widely attributed to Mexico.  Because these are an improvised version, with a take from a multiethnic household living in America of the 21st century, we like to pair the recipe with Aaron Copland’s El Salon Mexico.

Recipe

  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 whole garlic, grated
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped small
  • 1 piquillo pepper, chopped small
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped small
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or cayenne, if not available)
  • ½ lb. of ground chicken (or beef or meat alternative)
  • Refried beans (optional)
  • Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese to taste (or Queso Blanco, if favored)
  • 6 Taco shells (corn: hard or soft)
  • Juice of ½ lime

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In your favorite pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat
  2. Add the ground meat and begin cooking thoroughly, stirring frequently
  3. In about 10 minutes, add the onion and garlic, cooking through for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the tomato, pepper, spices, cilantro as well as the rest of the olive oil (the sofrito ingredients which will make your meat fragrant and soft).  Squeeze the lime and cook for another 10-15 minutes, constantly stirring
  5. Set your taco shells on a taco holder, so those are ready for the oven.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  6. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, it will turn a generously golden/red color.  Fill your shells with the meat, add optional beans and sprinkle with cheese
  7. Bake for about 7 minutes
  8. Serve hot with a side of rice or as a stand-alone.  Enjoy with good stories and company!

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