Craving Street Tacos?

I love getting beef tacos from vendors on street corners in Acuña, Mexico. I can't precisely reproduce their tender and succulent beef or their soft, warm, delicious corn tortillas, but here's my version anyway. We like these tacos just fine, we gobble them right up, and they're certainly cheap, fast, and tasty!

You will need some tenderized beef, about 0.5 lbs to feed yourself or about 1.5 lbs. to feed the fam,

and

1 batch of Pico de Gallo
garlic powder
salt
oregano
one lime
corn tortillas
half an onion--thinly sliced (less, obviously, if you're just making a couple of tacos for yourself)
a microwaveable tortilla warmer (they start out at .99 cents in many stores) or enough oil to fry tortillas into crispy taco shells.
A grill, a wok, or a large iron skillet.

These tacos are so fast and easy that it's totally worth it to whip them up for just yourself.

For this particular mess of tacos, I used chuck-style boneless beef ribs. I bought it because the price was right but I discovered that it was so easy to remove the excess fat and gristle and cut the meat to exactly the right size with this cut of meat.

Tenderize the meat a bit, not too much--you aren't making chicken fried steak. Then slice it very thin in bite size pieces. Remember to cut the meat against the grain so it will be more tender, not hard to do with this cut of beef.

Sprinkle meat with salt, garlic powder, oregano (rub it in your hands so it's more powder than leaves before putting it on the meat), and a few squeezes of lime juice. Don't add too much lime juice or your meat will simmer in the pan instead of stir-frying in the pan later. Add the thin sliced onions and mix well then allow it to marinate for a few hours if possible.

Pico de Gallo is a key ingredient to my "street tacos" but some minced cilantro and minced onions offered on the side as a condiment will also work. Remember that Pico de Gallo is best when it's had at least 30 minutes to a few hours to 'homogenize.' You can, of course, use whatever taco toppings make you happy.

If cooking the meat inside, take the battery out of you smoke detector for the preparation of this meal. Don't forget to put it back in later. Open some windows or set your a/c on fan to keep the air moving.

Set a large iron skillet over high heat and allow it to heat for at least seven minutes. It will smoke and this is good. Get a large square of foil ready to receive your meat after it is ready. Once at least 7 minutes have passed, toss in your marinated meat and stir-fry it until done. Don't overcook it. When it's ready, put it in the foil and wrap it up. The steam created inside this foil pocket does nice things to the meat.

You can fry your tortillas up for crunchy tacos, or dip them in hot oil for soft tacos OR, for soft tacos without the fat, place a paper towel in your tortilla warmer and however many tortillas you will need. Cover and microwave for one minute. The hot steam inside the tortilla warmer makes the tortillas pliable enough for tacos--if they aren't warmed up right, they will tear and you'll have a huge taco mess on your plate.

As soon as your taco shells are ready then it's time to put together some tasty tacos. I like them fresh and simple but you can use whatever taco toppings you like.

In Mexico, these tacos are handed to you with just the meat inside the tortillas (always homemade and to die for). Some vendors cook the meat with onions, others don't. Condiments are few but fresh and delicious--the choices are minced cilantro, minced onions, minced serrano peppers, and lime quarters. I have never seen Pico de Gallo offered by these vendors but the Pico is very good on them and I always find myself wishing the vendors offered it.

Extra Tips:

Beef milanesa is a good cut of meat to make these tacos with, just cut across the grain into strips. Tacos are always a good way to stretch a pound of meat.

You can fry flour tortillas into extremely tasty taco shells if you prefer them to corn. If you are using store-bought taco shells, well, shame on you. Yuck!

You don't have to cook the meat in an iron skillet. You can use your grill, in which case you should probably slice the meat after you've cooked it instead of before. You could also use your electric grill (George Foreman anyone?) or you could let your wok get smoking hot and use that instead.

We make these tacos with chicken frequently. I find that boneless, skinless thighs are the tastiest bit to use but use whatever part of the chicken that makes you happy.

4 comments:

Sue said...

Man, this entry makes me hungry!!!!

Genie said...

I could live on those tacos. I wish someone in Brackettville would open up a really good taco stand.

Angie said...

The tacos look so good! I love tacos!

Genie said...

They'd have been worlds better if I'd made some fresh tortillas (or bought some, mine aren't so great yet).

We made these again with crunchy fried tortilla shells and they were SO good.

Thanks for stopping by!

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