Taco Tuesday is a breeze once you have the right meat locked down. The meat I’m talking about here is what goes on the classic Americanized taco. I’m talking about the tacos I ate growing up. The ones with the pouch of meat seasonings, Ortega hard shells with layers of diced tomato, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese from a bag. Some sour cream may have been used. A generic hot salsa from a jar was considered “daring” … ha!
The classic meat is basic but it brings comfort to the senses if this is what you’re accustomed to. My taco making has transformed since moving to Astoria, New York in 2004 as I was introduced to more authentic tacos. So naturally, I wanted to bring that classic taco meat up a notch without changing it too drastically. Because I was exposed to more authentic ingredients from Mexican and Latin cuisine in Astoria, giving this classic preparation an upgrade was a no-brainer.
Be sure to check out my other taco meat options, like Spicy Shredded Stewed Beef, or my Smoky Sofrito Stewed Chicken Breast. Also you can simply remove some fresh chorizo sausage from it’s casing and fry it up in a pan.
So, time to ditch the pouch of seasonings. The ingredients to this taco meat recipe are pretty much similar to what I used in my Mexican Shepherd’s Pie with Braised Beef, except I use a mixture ground beef and turkey. Mixing in some lean turkey provides for a more lighter experience in your stomach.
A key ingredient in this taco meat upgrade is culantro. It’s similar to cilantro but much more potent with a clean aroma. This hard-to find herb combines beautifully with chipotle peppers as successfully as tomatoes do with basil. So when you see it in the store, grab it while you can.
I can’t say enough amazing things about Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (pictured above). Chipotle peppers are jalapeños that have been dried and smoked, so they naturally impart a smoky flavor to your taco meat. The adobo sauce already has “spices” (salt included), tomato sauce and vinegar. So when put in a food processor it serves as the perfect starter for many quick recipes. It’s like instant flavor! If you’re not too much into spicy food, simply decrease the amount of chipotles and add more plain tomato sauce.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 can Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
- 1 cup finely sliced culantro, firmly packed
- 1 heaping tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 2 cups plain tomato sauce
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat canola oil to medium high. Sauté the onions until translucent. Meanwhile, break down the chipotle peppers in a food processor.
- Stir the chipotle peppers, culantro and ground cumin into the sautéed onions until evenly distributed.
- Add the ground beef and turkey, then break it up. Stir in the plain tomato sauce and cook until the beef is fully browned.
Yied: One almost-full 12-inch skillet