Authored by Geoff Vaughan in Food and Cooking
Published on 12-27-2008
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of making truly delicious tacos is coming up with the right seasoning for the meat. All too often, people just cook the meat and throw it into the taco shell with some vegetables, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Although the mixture of different ingredients together creates a nice taste, it’s the seasoning that really makes the taco and gives it its kick.
There are two schools of thought with respect to acquiring taco meat seasoning – making it from scratch or buying it from the store. For busy people such as working parents, packets of pre-made taco seasoning can be found at any grocery store and are very convenient. They are typically bought individually and often come with easy-to-follow directions explaining the entire process of making tacos. One packet will normally season enough meat for a family dinner.
Many people choose to forgo this convenience, however, and create their own taco seasoning from individual ingredients. Some like to avoid the preservatives and monosodium glutamate (MSG) of the pre-made seasonings, and others simply want to create their own seasoning taste. When deciding what sort of spices to use, it’s important to consider the type of meat being used in the tacos. For instance, one may not want to season ground beef tacos the same way as those made with chicken. For ground beef, a good bet is to use a combination of several spices, including chili powder, minced onion and/or onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Many recipes will also include other spices such as paprika and cumin, and even sugar. A quick search of the internet will turn up many such recipes for this type of seasoning. To season ground beef with the finished product, one should brown the ground beef first, and then add the seasoning and some water, typically one cup per pound of ground beef. This mixture should then simmer until most of the liquid has cooked away, typically about twenty minutes.
While one can make chicken tacos with a similar technique, many people choose to marinate the chicken first. The combination of spices will be somewhat different from those in the ground beef seasoning to complement the flavor of the chicken, and often the marinade will be based on lime juice. As with recipes for ground beef seasoning, an internet search will give one access to many different marinade recipes for chicken tacos. To marinade chicken, one should mix the ingredients together and soak the chicken pieces in the mixture for at least a few hours in the refrigerator, although sometimes the recipe will even call for marinating the chicken overnight. It is also important to discard the rest of the marinade to prevent any illness occurring since the marinade was in contact with uncooked chicken.
Whether seasoning your ground beef tacos, marinating your chicken tacos, or some combination of the two techniques, with the right group of ingredients your creations are sure to be a hit.