As usual, we had a house full of people chez Pauline for Halloween. That included a passel of kids who needed to be stuffed full of good food before they trekked through the snow to get what they really wanted: candy. This not unfamiliar situation required something easy that could literally sit on the stove, be served buffet style and eaten with the oldest utensils provided by the Bon Dieu, our hands. Voilà, tacos.
I make mine with a little twist and like to add a Creole flare by serving them with Zataran’s Spanish Rice. I’m also not too picky about the “taco seasonings” and tend to use the kind from a bag – Lowry’s or Taco Bell are quite tasty and relatively inexpensive. Note that I doubled this recipe for Halloween.
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bag taco seasoning
½ cup water
¼ cup vodka
¼ cup Bloody Mary Mix (Tabasco’s mix is my favorite)
1 package taco size flour tortillas
1 package crunchy taco shells
Brown the ground beef in oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour off fat and then add the vodka (after turning your burner off momentarily if you are using a gas stove). Let the alcohol deglaze the pan and then add the seasoning, water and Bloody Mary mix. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and cover. This can simmer on the back burner for hours. Add more water if the mixture starts to get a little dry.
For condiments I like:
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Torn iceberg lettuce
Diced yellow onion
Taco sauce (La Victoria medium red is the house favorite)
Salsa (we like the locally made Mexico in Alaska brand)
Pepper sauce (though I’m hooked on Tabasco for just about everything else, I really like Cholula brand from Mexico with Mexican food)
You might also consider:
Grated pepper jack and/or plane jack cheese
Chopped green onion
Sliced avocado or guacamole
Sliced green and/or black olives
Use your imagination!
When it’s time to eat, fill either the hard or soft shells with a little more than a tablespoon of the meat mixture and allow your family and guests to select their condiments before choosing a seat and chowing down. Other variations: fill a hard taco shell and then wrap it in a flour tortilla to avoid your fillings scattering everywhere with that first bite. Add a can of refried beans to the taco meat once it’s done and, using larger flour tortillas, serve burritos.
This feast goes well with just about anything you are drinking but of course a nice Mexican beer would be both authentic and tasty. Bon appetite ~
Header: Medieval cooks from a contemporary manuscript