It’s Tuesday so, we gotta taco ’bout something.
I’ve brought you here today for an “intervention”… if you will.
I’m just gonna come out and say it.
You may have been making tacos WRONG this whole time!
That’s right. No, no, no, don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault! Society has been teaching us all the time the wrong way of how to make tacos; leading us to believe we have been doing it the RIGHT way. But, I am here to tell you that your next taco can be SO.MUCH.MORE.SATISFYING!
I want you to get the most out of your taco Tuesdays, Sundays, Fridays – or whatever day’s of the week you eat tacos. Because every day is a good day for a taco feast!
Let me ask you this… don’t you just get SO frustrated when you go to eat a taco and all the meat is on the bottom and all the cheese and sour cream, guacamole and other goodies are on the top? If you are like me, you take a bite and it’s nearly impossible to get a bit of every tasty topping. Take that bite without the taco falling apart, or having to get too much food in your mouth at once that you can barely chew. That, or the WORST part, you get in a situation where all you have left halfway through eating is the shell with some cheese and lettuce… UGH! RIGHT?
Tacos are one of America’s favorite foods!
(there is probably a legit statistic for that somewhere, but Ima go out on a limb and say it’s probably true.)
As I am sure you might have figured out by now, tacos are one of MY favorite foods lol.
In this kitchen – you know, the “BS kitchen”; we have gotten to a point where taco making is an art form. People come over for taco night and they’re watching us in awe as we craft the perfect, most crispy, crunchy, creamy, evenly distributed so that you get some of every ingredient in every bite, best taco ever.
Well, have no fear… I plan to coach you through the art of how to make tacos. Ready for class?
Here we go! – Hold on to your Butts!
Making the Best Tacos to ever grace your taste buds:
Make The Meat!
This is the most crucial step to a tasty, awesome taco! In our house, we will make a few different meat/filling variations depending on our mood or what we have.
a few options we enjoy:
Sometimes, we add Black Beans to our ground meat.
Shredded Chicken (my personal favorite lately).
Making Shredded Chicken:
The easiest way to do this is ahead of time in a crockpot or instant pot. The low and slow cooking method is best to get the chicken nice and tender and juicy. I personally buy my chicken in bulk from Costco and freeze it. I take it straight from the freezer and stick it in the crockpot with some chicken broth. Sometimes, I will season it with some paprika, garlic, onion powder, s&p, and maybe some salsa or something if I have it. I may just keep it plain so it can be used for other things too.
This method will take a good day or so to finish up but it’s my favorite because it’s set and forget until it’s time to eat. If you are needing something a bit quicker you can just easily stick some chicken breasts or a whole chicken in a pot of water/broth and boil it for approximately an hour. Then shred it up. An Instant pot, being that it has many cooking features could also cut the time down significantly.
Ground Meat (whatever type you choose. We prefer venison!)
I know that there are plenty of people out there that are not condoning of hunting practices. However, we will always try to use as much as possible of any animal we kill I agree that if you are going to hunt just for the sport that is wrong, but if it’s to feed your family that is ok.
My husband is an avid hunter. He travels regularly to different areas of the country to hunt, as well as spending the season hunting a private family property. If you are interested in this type of stuff you can read more about his stories at his website TravelForABuck.com. He typically brings home a couple decent sized dear each season.
This year we had four deer to fill our freezer with! Hubby processes the animal himself, and then deep freezes the meat for use as needed. Typically, the scraps and fatty pieces are saved to make treats for our dog. Hunting, processing, and storing our own meat helps to save us money. Venison is very versatile too, as is any other type of meat. A deer can provide multiple steaks, roasts, brisket, ground, sausage, etc. Plus, there is nothing fresher or more organic aside from hunting and processing your own wild game.
What does it taste like?
There’s something about venison honestly; Some would call it the “gamey-ness” but to me, that is FLAVOR. When you get used to eating deer meat and then go back to eating beef you realize that beef just doesn’t really taste like much. (unless you are getting your beef from a better source than the typical grocery store)
Venison has a flavor to it that I can’t really describe in words. Perhaps this is what the Japanese refer to as Umami? But, deer meat has just the perfect flavorful edge when you are making tacos, steaks or whatever else – and that flavor really sets a meal apart.
How to make taco meat:
Ok, so whether you decide to choose: deer meat, beef, turkey, or whatever ground meat you like for tacos; this is how to prepare it:
Brown the meat in a pan with some jalapeño juice, jalapeños, and some chicken broth. (skip the jalapenos if you don’t do spicy)
You might be thinking right now, “Britney, WHY do you use chicken broth?” Well, because that is what I have on hand. I buy broth in bulk from Costco. It’s the Signature Organic Chicken Stock, 32 fl. oz. , 6 Count. Buying chicken broth in bulk is a cost-effective way to make sure I have broth on hand for any type of cooking. Broth has a pretty long shelf life. Because I buy in bulk, I am certain that I will have some on hand when needed. Sometimes, I will make my own if I have the time.
An honest thought here: it doesn’t matter what broth you use to cook with in my opinion. You could use water if you prefer, though it won’t give any flavor to the meal. In the end, it doesn’t even matter, you’ll just need some liquid. (Did anyone else start singing Linkin Park after reading that?)
Personally, I DON’T like fatty, chunky, chewy meat AT ALL. I am one of those people that if I get something like that in my food – I’m done. Appetite? Gone! Game over… nada, NOT HUNGRY. So, the liquid step is SUPER important to me when making the taco filling. The broth or liquid allows the meat to becomes tender, juicy and soft. Exactly the way it should be.
While I have the meat, jalapeño juice (liquid flavor!) and broth in the pan I will add my spices and flavorings. Spices and amounts can change each time because I honestly have never written them down. Nor do I typically measure anything out when seasoning. My mindset is – shake/pour/squeeze some in there and if it looks good, it IS good!
Spices I use for the making the best taco meat:
I will list the ingredients in the order of how much I think I use. (most at the top, least at the bottom).
yet again, Cumin – Cumin is what makes tacos taste like tacos
lime juice (Start with half a lime and go up from there)
Optional Ingredients: (I sometimes use these)
literally good for everything
Sometimes, I will put some tomato sauce in with the meat, but it is NOT necessary. The tomato sauce just helps with the whole liquid thing, and of course, adds another dimension of flavor.
I know that most people don’t typically buy or have Nutritional Yeast just lying around. If you want to get some, I recommend Thrive Market, because they will deliver it straight to your door. Plus Thrive has a lot of other healthy and hard to find items that are much more expensive in stores.
The nutritional yeast can impart a cheesy like flavor. It also acts as a bit of a thickener which can be helpful. One word of caution about nutritional yeast though: if it’s not properly mixed in, or you use too much it can become gritty. Start small, like a light dusting, or a tablespoon and go from there.
Beans give an extra, soft texture to the meat. The beans can make the filling go further too, so I mix them in with the meat while it is cooking so all the flavors meld.
Mix the broth and the meat and the jalapeño juice and spices really good. I put jalapeños in mine, and as they soften I will chop them up with the spatula, spoon or whatever I am using. If you don’t like spicy you can omit this. Let the meat and all the liquids and spices simmer down uncovered until most of the liquid is cooked off.
Heat the Taco Shells
Take out your taco shells from the pack, I prefer Old El Paso Crunchy Taco Shells. Place them in a cookie pan. I will spread them out to where they are in a straight line but still one inside the other. Hope that makes sense. (I don’t have a picture but I will remember to add one next time I make them). Also, I like to put a little glass dipping bowl inside the first one (or something oven-proof that can hold up the top part of the shell). Otherwise, the first shell will close up on itself when it gets hot and you won’t be able to use it without breaking it. This is also why I keep the shells somewhat inside one another.
Put the shells in the oven and THEN turn the oven on. Set it to 350°
You will take them out as soon as the oven reaches 350°, they will be heated juuust right.
Sour Cream / Avocado or Guacamole / Mayo
Get all your fixin’s and utensils out ahead of time so they are ready to go:
Spread the sour cream / Chipotle Mayo inside the shell with the back of a spoon, a knife, or a spatula.
Note about mayo: I will make homemade mayonnaise that is dairy free, sugar-free, whole30 compliant. It is wayyyy better than any normal store bought mayo you could ever buy. I like to make a chipotle mayo that is similar to the Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo. This is a SUPERB way to get some flavor and creaminess onto your taco when you aren’t eating dairy!
After you do the sour cream to your liking, add a couple small slices of avocado to the bottom of the taco. I prefer using just straight slices of avocado. Sometimes I will buy guacamole – it just depends ( avocados are 2 for $5 right now!!! Wholly Guacamole was 2 for $4 on sale the other day… ummmmm that is a no-brainer right there).
Step 4 :
Salsa Part 1
Add salsa. I like to use two different types of salsa. Traditional chunky, mild or medium red salsa and verde salsa. I will put the red salsa on before the meat and the green on top. Sometimes, I flip-flop ’em. It’s not really that “deep” – just pick one and roll with it.
*If you are doing my recommended cheese alteration this is where you would do that too.
Add The Filling
This one is pretty straightforward… you spoon some of that juicy, soft, flavorful, meaty (or if you aren’t doing meat you can do sofrito or beans or something else vegetarian – I don’t judge). Load that tasty goodness into the sour cream and avocado prepared shell.
Salsa Part 2 and Cheese
I like to use two different types of salsa. Traditional chunky, mild or medium red salsa and verde salsa. Typically, the verde salsa goes on top of the meat filling, and then if I am doing cheese that goes next. ( if you prefer tomatoes put those on last ::shrugs::).
Another note on cheese. Hubby doesn’t like doing it this way – however… I do so mahhhh 😝😜😛
IF you buy cheddar cheese or whatever type of cheese slices you prefer. Go back to step 3, after you put the guacamole in the taco, fold the slice of cheese in half. Depending on the taco size, a half a slice will do or you can do half a slice plus a half of a half of a slice (HA! say that five times fast. seriously though – 3/4 of a slice of cheese). and lay that on one side of the taco wall. Then proceed with the steps as normal. I like doing it this way because the cheese is evenly dispersed throughout the whole taco. Cheese in every bite!
Time to eat!
Well, there we have it. How to make the BEST tacos. Now, enjoy those tacos and let your MIND. BE. BLOWN! A little bit of everything in every bite! Best tacos evarrr!
Side note… notice how we are using a rectangular tupperware to assemble the tacos? Through trial and error, THIS is the easiest way to keep the shells all standing up and all the fillings inside. Try using a plate and those shells flop all over, fall over and break, and the cheese goes flying everywhere. It’s just a mess! I have also tried the stand-n-stuff shells, as well as a taco plate (has ridges in it to hold the tacos) but, this is the best way in my opinion. Plus as you eat, the toppings that fall out the sides of the shell… cause you know that it’s gonna happen… will all fall back into the bowl. Then you can make nachos or more tacos!
We even have a taco truck…. wait, that’s not the same kind of taco you say? Well, I say taco, you say Tacoma. You know, same difference.
#tacotuesday (it’s a thing, ask uncle google)