Growing up, holidays were all about tradition. Remember dressing up for dinner? It wasn’t till high school I figured out EVERYONE didn’t start a holiday meal with lasagna, then turkey and all the trimmings. You mean you didn’t eat like that? You must not be Italian. 🙂

We would all gather in the kitchen until the man in the apron (that’s Uncle Al, next to Nanny) could no longer get things done with everyone underfoot. “Would you get the hell outta my kitchen?!!!”

But sometimes, the holiday gatherings of old just don’t materialize, and you find yourself…inviting your uncle to join you for something completely UNtraditional. Tacos! Yes, we did!

I’ve wanted to talk to you about tacos for some time now, knowing so many really good home cooks only make them with “the packet.” Long ago, my Aunt Pegi taught me how to make ’em–just meat, tomato sauce and seasonings. It’s that easy! Over time, I’ve added my own twists to her original recipe, but it’s really the same idea. You can add and subtract from it as you like.

TACO MEAT

1 – 1 ½  lbs. ground chicken (AP used ground turkey, feel free to use ground beef if you prefer)
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
beer (or water)–1/2 tomato sauce can–the rest is for the cook!
1 tablespoon chili powder* (mine is Penzey’s medium hot)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon epazote (optional)
1 teaspoon cilantro (optional)
add salt to taste

*Or use Katty’s magic formula: 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon chipotle, 1 teaspoon ancho

Grab a large skillet, add some olive oil and ground chicken (or whatever meat you choose) with a teaspoon of adobo sprinkled over the meat. Break the meat into small pieces with your spatula and cook till there’s no pink. Drain juices.

Lower heat to medium, add can of tomato sauce. What better way to rinse the extra tomato sauce outta the can than with a little beer? A little beer for the tacos, a little beer for the cook. Cheers to that!

Then add all the spices–most of them should be in your spice rack already. The only exceptions are the epazote and cilantro. Nice to add if you have them on hand–no big deal if not.

The tomato sauce and beer will cook down and look like this.


I put together a QUICK GUACAMOLE, too:
one avocado, cubed
handful of grape tomatoes, quartered
a couple of slices of sweet onion, diced
a couple of slices of lemon, squeezed (lime is traditional, lemon is what the kat had in the kitchen!)
a bit of adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo)–I usually use sriracha–any hot sauce will do

Mix and serve. It’s tasty as a snack before the tacos are ready, or as a topping once they’re out of the oven!

But back to the taco meat…you can stuff taco shells, top them with shredded cheddar and bake them, as we did…

Or you can make nachos…or even taco salad…


Don’t forget–taco meat over cheesy eggs for breakfast the next day is always a treat.

Be sure to have lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream on hand–whatever toppings you like–for your tacos. Olives, anyone?

While not the feast of childhood days with my family, we had a great meal and a nice time together…right down to when my uncle’s phone rang, playing this Skynyrd song, and it took me waaaay back! Turn it up!

So, speaking of Skynyrd, here we are: Skynyrd and I in front of the garage on 216. Was it 1981, maybe? Older and wiser now, for sure, but still that same girl inside.

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