Posted at 10:03 am by NativeNM, on August 20, 2021
I’ve only smoked meats a few times and while the outcome has always excelled my expectations, the method of using charcoal was difficult. Using charcoal to smoke is tiresome and difficult to regulate the temperature that you need to maintain over so many hours. After many month’s of debate with myself, I decided to get a pellet smoker. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons before deciding on a Z-Grill. I’ve used it 3 times now and the meat has come out excellent, the cleanup has been fairly easy and has made the overall experience of smoking meats much more enjoyable. Recently my sister Kat gave me a bag of Gourmet Pistachio flavored pellets made here in New Mexico. I couldn’t wait to give it a try and thought smoked carnitas sounded so good using a pork butt roast with a red chile rub. I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. After 11 hours in the smoker, it reached the desired internal temperature of 203 degrees. I left it wrapped and set in a cooler to steam and rest for 2 additional hours. The moment I unwrapped the aluminum foil, the aroma of smoked pork permeated the kitchen. It smelled so good and we couldn’t wait to pick off a little piece to try. It was moist and tender and pulled apart so easily. The bark with all the spices is my favorite part. We set aside enough to make tacos and vacuum sealed the rest in half pound packages for the freezer. You can make so many meals with smoked carnitas. Try making tacos, taquitos, wraps, nachos, quesadillas, or a burrito bowl with rice and beans. Maybe I can convince anyone who is considering smoking meats that a pellet smoker is the way to go. It’s like a whole new level of cooking. I find it a fun experience from the first couple of hours when the aroma starts to infuse the air until the moment you take that first bite.
I usually stay away from fried foods but when it comes to fry bread I will always make an exception. Lets face it, you just can’t make that crispy airy bread any other way. And one of the best ways to eat fry bread is to make Indian tacos aka Navajo tacos. This past year with Covid we’ve been ordering takeout instead of eating inside and I haven’t had an Indian taco from a restaurant in over a year. It tastes so much better when it’s fresh and comes out to the table warm and crisp. So I decided to make them at home and I have to say they tasted pretty darn good! The fry bread was a simple prep courtesy of Desert Gardens Fry Bread mix. Just add water, stir and let sit for 10 minutes. I used half the dough and placed the rest in the fridge to make sopaipillas the next day. For the toppings I browned ground beef and added beans and green chile. It tasted so good along with lettuce, cheese, tomato and onion. The one thing I would do is make smaller portions next time. These turned out huge and way more than we could eat but every bite was delicious!
Recently I spent a weekend roasting a chicken and pickling some radishes to make some of the tastiest Mojo tacos around. Have you seen the spatchcock chickens that everyone is grilling these days? I think they look amazing! Mojo chicken can be described as chicken that’s been marinated in orange and lime juice along with garlic and herbs. Making it spatchcock allowed the chicken to lay flat on the grill and cook evenly. The chicken turned out tender, juicy and full of flavor. A whole chicken for 2 people makes a lot of meals; there was enough chicken for tacos along with some wraps, a pot of soup and sandwiches. The tacos can have any number of toppings, I chose some picked radish mix along with cilantro, avocado and crumbled fresco cheese I splurged and picked up some street tortillas in corn and flour that are smaller but fun to eat. We enjoyed these little street tacos with salsa and chips and called it a meal. They tasted like we got them off a taco truck!
Breakfast tacos are easy to make and scrumptious to eat. I like to make them with creamy scrambled eggs and toppings that include cheese, bacon, avocado and tomato with a drizzle of salsa. There are so many options that might go into a breakfast taco . . . maybe some diced onion or red peppers, green chile, spinach, or herbs. When it comes to toppings it’s all up to you. What I really want to talk about is the cheesy hash browns on the side. They are fantastic. If you order hash browns at a dozen different restaurants you’ll probably get a dozen different tastes and textures. I like my hash browns crispy outside while creamy inside. That’s a rare find but I think I’ve found a way to make them at home. After testing boiled potatoes and baked potatoes, I tried using dehydrated hash browns that you find in a box. The dehydrated shredded potatoes were the one that achieved that perfect combination of crispy and creamy hash brown. The addition of flour and butter makes the potatoes crisp on the outside while the cheese and egg keeps the inside creamy. I plan on testing some other additions like sour cream or yogurt instead of cheese to see how that alters the taste and texture. I’ll update you on my findings but in the meantime enjoy some breakfast tacos with some cheesy hash browns on the side.
When I first discovered taquitos they were made with ground beef. These days you will find them filled with shredded chicken or beef and pulled pork. While they are all delicious, I find the ground beef taquitos a classic. And the salsa to dip them in is what makes them taste so good. You have to be choosy when picking corn tortillas for wrapping taquitos. They need to be thin and stone ground. If you have soft tortillas they are more likely to tear when rolling and won’t crisp they way they should. Bueno is my brand of choice here in NM. They are stone ground and a larger tortilla which is always a plus in making taquitos. Pan frying the tortillas in oil before rolling them is also key. Never blot the oil from the tortilla, this is what helps create that crisp texture when baking. Taquitos also freeze well, just double or triple the filling and tortillas and have them whenever you want. Continue reading →
As promised, I have another way to use the sauce that makes the best Al Pastor tacos. Taquitos are something I grew up on and have loved all my life. They are basically rolled tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with anything from ground beef to chicken to pork to steak; really you can fill them with anything that tastes good. And the fun part is that they are the best finger food made for dipping. Usually I dip them in guacamole or salsa but today I am going with green chile dip. Pork is the traditional meat when making Al Pastor and I’m going to take a small pork roast and cook it low and slow until it will easily pull apart with 2 forks. It may not be the traditional way of making Al Pastor pork but it’s just might just be the tastiest to roll up inside a tortilla yet. There’s not much else to say, except you gotta try these! Continue reading →
Posted at 1:52 pm by NativeNM, on January 28, 2019
Tacos Al Pastor are usually made with pork rather than chicken. And usually the meat is sliced thin and wrapped around a large skewer, then grilled on a spit. To me it resembles the way gyro meat is cooked. I love these tacos but for me, it’s really not feasible to make them the traditional way, especially for just the two of us. The sauce used to marinate the chicken has many of the ingredients of a Mexican adobado sauce, including dried chiles, achiote paste and pineapple juice. I made enough to put up in the freezer just like I do for red or green chile sauce. I didn’t have pork on hand but did have a large chicken breast that I thought would be a good compromise. I brushed a good amount of the sauce over the chicken and let it marinate overnight. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to grill it outdoors since it is Winter after all, but we were blessed with a day full of sunshine that made it possible. Who knows when we will have another day as nice as this! I heated the grill to about 325 degrees. The chicken was quite thick and needed to cook a bit slower and longer to keep the moisture inside. It took about 25 minutes to reach the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees. I turned it often so as not to burn the marinade, but rather let it caramelize and seal in the juices of the chicken. These chicken tacos taste so good paired with a citrusy tropical pineapple and mango salsa and a spritz of lime juice. With quite a bit of sauce left over for future recipes, I’ve been contemplating all the possibilities in which to use it. I’ll keep you posted . . . Continue reading →
This is another “Food Paradise” favorite that I found on the Travel Channel. It comes from the Taco Guild Gastropub in Phoenix, AZ, ranked No. 2 on their countown. One of their signature tacos uses a rub that coats big chunks of beef with cocoa powder, espresso powder, Ancho chiles, plus a few more flavorful ingredients. Once the beef is saturated with the rub it goes straight onto a hot grill to sear. The beef is turned over each side to sear until it is a bit charred and dark in color. Next place the beef in a roasting pan and pour brewed coffee over it. Cover it with aluminum foil where it goes into a 300 degree oven for 5 – 6 hours. It is so tender and so flavorful when it comes out of the oven and virtually falls apart at the slightest touch. Taco Guild serves their tacos with a mango salsa topped with cotija cheese. I have to say they were spot on as the mango salsa added just the right amount of sweetness to balance the cocoa and coffee flavors. There was a lot of shredded beef to go around. I don’t know exactly how many tacos we ate but for several days we were in taco heaven. Continue reading →
If these flautas look familiar it’s because they are very similar to my Barbacoa Taquitos. The difference between flautas and taquitos are the type of tortillas. Flautas are made with flour tortillas where as taquitos are made with corn tortillas. Corn tortillas are my first love but sometimes I make flautas to please my hubby. The thing about making flautas is cooking the tortilla to that perfect crispness. If overcooked they will be overly crunchy and taste like a cracker. And the filling should be somewhat dry so that the tortilla won’t become soggy. I went back to an old favorite, a seasoned slow cooked chuck roast flavored with Frontera’s Barbacoa sauce. Chile de Arbol salsa and Molcajete Guacamole are the perfect condiments to dip your flautas in. Enjoy! Continue reading →
Posted at 9:43 am by NativeNM, on February 24, 2017
This might be one of the tastiest tacos ever! They were so good I can’t wait to make them again. This Mole sauce has so many flavors to awaken the taste buds including dried chiles, spices and dark chocolate. The pulled pork was the star of this taco so there was no need for a lot of toppings. A fresh Pico salsa with crumbled Queso Fresco is all you need. Continue reading →