Who doesn’t like tacos? Just about everyone, right? Tacos are the perfect food. Think about it – all the major food groups are found in a taco. Fruit (tomatoes and avocados), vegetable (lettuce), grain (taco shell – okay, that might be a stretch, but work with me here), dairy (cheese and sour cream) and protein (filling) – yep – it’s all there. There are chicken tacos, beef tacos, fish tacos, shrimp tacos – even bean tacos. Just about anything folded into a warm corn shell can be called “taco”. (Hey, I’ve even seen Ice Cream Tacos – like a drumstick, only the “stick” is shaped like a taco shell). Tonight I whipped up a skillet of chorizo tacos. Love good chorizo – especially in tacos.
Some people add chorizo to ground beef for a little added “zip” to their tacos. I know I do. But there are times when I skip the ground beef and go straight for the chorizo. One of these days, I’ll make some chorizo sausage from scratch – at least that’s what I keep telling myself. But when it’s so easy to get good bulk chorizo at the meat counter of any Mexican market . . . ease of convenience wins over ambition. But one of these days . . .
There are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to buying chorizo. Do buy bulk whenever possible. Don’t buy chorizo typically found in American markets that is packaged in long plastic tubes. The typical chorizo (usually labeled “Beef” or “Pork”) found in most grocery stores is more fat than meat, and will yield a skillet that is almost entirely hot, orange grease. True chorizo is made with ground pork, so don’t let the beef variety fool you.
Good chorizo will cook up like ground beef, perfect for tacos. Most people drain their ground meat BEFORE adding things such as taco seasoning. I’ll admit, it is the healthier method. While good chorizo (like good quality ground beef) won’t be a skillet of melted fat, there will be some grease in the skillet. I like to add my taco seasoning BEFORE draining the skillet. Why? Because in the grease, there is flavor. By adding the taco seasonings before draining, the season will absorb some of the grease, and thereby retain some of the additional flavor. Let it sit for a few minutes, the drain. It rendered a more flavorful taco filling.
One thing my father taught me was to NEVER, EVER drain a skillet into the sink unless you want to eventually clog your pipes with grease build up. Pouring off the grease into a coffee can isn’t always practical or easy. Here’s an easy trick: put a metal colander inside a large metal bowl. Dump the ground meats into the colander and let it drain. You could even press down on the meat with your spatula to drain well. Then dump the meat back into the skillet to keep warm or add other ingredients, and pour the grease collected in the bowl into your coffee can to dispose of later.
Chorizo tacos serve up nicely with all the usual trimmings such as lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Unlike ground beef tacos, chorizo tacos also go well with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.
Ingredients – Taco Filling
2 Lb Bulk Chorizo Meat (the good stuff)
2-3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
2 tablespoons water
1 Teaspoon Tomato Paste
In a large cast iron skillet, crumble the chorizo meat. Over medium-high heat, brown the meat, 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. Using a metal spatula, press down on the meat to squeeze out the excess grease. Once meat has completely drained, return to the skillet. If there are any large pieces remaining, break them into small pieces. Add water and tomato paste, stirring to combine completely. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
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.
Ingredients – Taco Garnish
½ Lettuce head, shredded
½ Cup Cilantro, chopped (optional)
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
Avocado or Guacamole
2-3 Limes, cut into wedges
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!
Here’s a great bonus – leftover taco meat is great in scrambled eggs, or used as an omelette filling.