~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Taco Seasoning ~
Taco (tah-koh). The definition is a simple one: a grilled or fried, soft or crispy, corn- or wheat-flour tortilla filled with a host of grill or stovetop cooked meat, sausage, poultry, fish, seafood or vegetable fillings and an array of condiment toppings. The tortilla (the empty, portable, holder) turns into a taco when it gets filled. Once filled, the taco is picked up by folding it in half and eaten with the hands. Once filled, the taco usually takes on a specific name: tacos al carbon (skirt steak), tacos al pastor (pork), tacos de pescado (fish), tacos de camarones (shrimp), etc.
Tacos are simple, versatile, portable fun -- just ask any child!
The first tacos I learned to make were tacos al carbon. It was in the latter 1970's, and, my training was hands-on standing next to my friend Toni (Antoinette), a Mexican-American woman from San Antonio, TX. As with all authentic versions of Texican fare, she changed her proportions and blend of spices depending upon what she was preparing -- no different from other cultures (Asian, French, Indian, Italian, etc.). It seems that only us Americans are obsessed with standardizing everyone's cuisine!
Fast forward into the 1980's and 1990's: reality check. No matter how much I learned about food from family, diverse friends and extensive traveling, this was the period of my life when I had to sit across the dinner table from our three children. Standarization hit me like a brick to the head. Frozen food, school cafeterias and fast food joints had taken over the USA and they were interfering with my food world. My boys were comparing my shrimp to Gortons, my mac and cheese to Kraft, and, my Tacos to Taco Bell. My boys were being introduced to "this stuff" everywhere, even in our own neighborhood. Desperate times call for desperate measures:
And so it began -- fusing what I knew to be true ingredients with what my boys liked. The kids wanted hard-shelled tacos with deep-fried corn tortillas and filling made with ground beef instead of shredded steak. I'm ok with that. What I wouldn't buy into were overpriced cardboardesque boxed taco shells and 1-ounce, foil taco seasoning packets. I began mixing my own spice blends for fajitas and tacos and keeping them on hand in my pantry. For my recipe ~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Fajita Seasoning ~ (pictured here) click on the Related Article below.
Meet my kid-friendly, homemade taco seasoning blend!
3 tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Six Seasonings*
1 tablespoon generic chili powder
1 teaspoon each: coarse-ground black pepper and cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
~ Step 1. Measure and place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir. You will have 4-ounces or 16 tablespoons. Cover or transfer to a jar, cover, and keep on-hand in a cool, dry pantry for up to 6 months. Look at that red color!
* Note: Available online at http://www.applecanyongourmet.com (Albuquerque, New Mexico). Spice blends in my taco seasoning? You betcha. The chile blend is a melange of pure, dried and ground chiles, along with New Mexico's famous red chiles and contains no salt. Six seasonings is a melange of pure and dried herbs, all favorites of Sante Fe, NM. It would not be cost efficient for me or you to order all of these pure and unadulterated ingredients separately and grind them at home. For authentic flavor, I highly recommend you give these products a try!
For those of you who don't know, when a product says "chile powder or chile blend", spelled with an "e" at the end, that denotes pure, powdered chiles. When a product says "chili powder or chili blend" with an "i" at the end, that is an Americanized product containing other additives.
~ Step 2. Use my taco seasoning as directed in my recipes, and, I use 2 tablespoons of my blend for every 1 pound of ground beef in my recipe for ~ Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Ground Beef Taco Filling ~ which can be found in Categories 2, 13, 19 or 20. Note: A 1-ounce packet of store-bought taco seasoning contains 4 tablespoons and uses 1 packet per 1 pound of ground beef.
You made the seasoning, now it's time to go make some tacos!
Special Equipment List: measuring spoons; 1-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)