Monday, August 31, 2009

Taco Night

We have Taco Night about once a month.  It is a bit of work, but so good it's worth it.

First, you need beans.  Frijoles, as they are known here on the Border.  It's very, very important to start with good product, and it's well known around here that the absolute best pinto beans are from Dove Creek, Colorado.  We look for sacks of beans that look like this.

Then you wash your beans. Best done in a colander under flowing water.  Swirl them around a while under the water and watch the dirt come out.  Very satisfying.

Then put them in a pot with a nice smoked ham hock.   In a pinch you can use bacon, or nothing at all.  I always add a clove of garlic. This part of the country doesn't subscribe to a lot of doctoring of the beans.  But no salt yet!!  Wait until they are cooked.

Cover the beans with water and cook slowly on the stove or in the pressure cooker, my favorite way.  If you use a pressure cooker,  cover the beans as much as you can but not more than 2/3 full.  If you do it in a regular pot, you'd better start early in the day.

If you use a pressure cooker, cover them up and let 'er rip.  Remember to turn down the pressure cooker when it gets mad.

Then cook up a couple of pounds of ground beef.  I add a little garlic powder, sometimes onion, sometimes not.  Usually with a little Great American Steak seasoning.   Make sure it's well browned.

 Let it drain on brown paper or paper towels.

I love brown paper and keep a lot of it handy.   Better and cheaper than paper towels for jobs like this.   Or,  you could save grocery store brown bags like my Mom did.  I worry about critters getting into my house like that, though.   Eeeuuuuw!

Now for the taco shells.  Pre-made taco shells are nasty. 
I like to pour about an inch of Tequila in a glass first. Then...
Get about three inches of peanut oil shimmering hot, using a heavy sauce pan.  Make sure the pot handle is well out of the way.  Take pincher tongs and grasp the corn tortilla and slowly dip the whole thing into the way-hot oil.  Continuing to hold on, and pull the edge toward you to fold it in the middle.  Keep holding for a minute!  Then you can turn loose.  Then flip it over for a few more seconds.  Then you can take it out.

This takes a little ....practice.  You'll have to figure out how you like your tacos, crispy or slightly soft or chewy.  I make mine slightly soft and then they crisp up some when they are in the oven waiting for dinner.  

Now you can stuff the cooked beef into the shells.  Later, you'll need chopped iceburg lettuce, chopped tomato, grated monterrey jack cheese and of course, salsa to eat with the tacos
Your beans are ready now!   Be sure to run cold water over the pressure cooker until it stops hissing completely and gasps a death rattle.  Then you can open it up safely.
This is the reddish brown color you should be looking for.  NOW I add about a half dollar size pile of kosher salt.

Oh yeah.  We luuuuv tacos!


craig said...

Hi Jan... my mom turned me on to your blog and ive really enjoyed it. Have you ever tried making your own tortillas..corn or flour? I have tried half a dozen times and had very little success, and would love any pointers you might have. Thanks - Craig

Jan said...

Hi, Craig! I'm so glad you like my blog. Maybe one of my guys will try to make something one day!
Anyway, the answer to your question is yes, I have made some fairly decent flour tortillas with the White Wings mix, but here you can buy such good ones, I hardly ever do it.
In the absence of the mix, here is a link that might help.

Jan said...

PS to Craig
I think the corn ones are actually easier to make with the mix, but you have to have a press and use some plastic wrap (and I don't mean glad wrap, but you have to experiment to find the best thing) to use on both sides of the iron, in other words sandwich the masa between it.