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Yesterday was National Taco Day!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by smokinq13, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. So yesterday was National Taco Day and so of course we had tacos! I made two different types of meats, one with left over Pulled Pork and the other with some ground venison. The leftover PP tacos are by far my favorite( I might even go as far to say even including authentic Mexican restaurants), the amount of flavors that it comes with is out of this world! 20181004_155645.jpg
    I know I might get some backlash for the way I make my PP tacos but I'm telling you, if you never made them this way... you're gonna have to give it a try. So I first start out by warming up the PP and of course cooking the venison. I add water to the PP to help it along by steaming it out and also for when you add the taco seasonings. 20181004_160402.jpg
    When adding the liquids, dont be afraid to add more than you need... I truly believe this is the key to making great tacos. 1. it helps with the dispersion of seasonings and flavors 2. it just lets the meat simmer in its goodness even longer helping with the intensifying the flavors, both of the seasonings and the natural meat flavors with the smoked flavor
    20181004_160601.jpg 20181004_161717.jpg
    Like I said it might look like its too much liquid but trust me... it makes it so much better and will cook down and thicken up(as seen in later picture). When it comes to liquid I just use water but you could use almost anything that would be good with both PP and tacos! Apple Juice would add some sweetness( just dont let the sugar burn) I thought about Corona beer would be fantastic but didn't have any on hand so water it was 20181004_161739.jpg
    The one ingredient I also think really makes with pop is after I get to this point of just letting it simmer, I dust and mix in some BBQ rub, which I love my Everglades Cactus Dust... gives it a sweet Mesquite flavor. After this the key is to let it simmer on a low heat for a while. I mean minimum 1 hour( that's what I did, couldn't wait longer;)) but I imagine longer would be better just not too long like a couple hours. ** another key point is when mixing, just mix by flipping it/turning it over on itself... not by chopping like you would do with regular tacos to break down the meat. you want to try and keep the meat as whole as possible but it will naturally break down little from cooking
    20181004_162134.jpg 20181004_162240.jpg (sorry for the bad picture thought it wasn't blurry) 20181004_162247.jpg
    And of course everyone knows have to make traditional tacos, I add in some minced onion and of course let it simmer on low covered up as well. the simmering is key! 20181004_163231.jpg
    Get your favorite toppings ready, I used mix cheese, Homemade salsa, lettuce and sour cream. 20181004_165048.jpg
    In time it thickened up( could have gone a little longer but couldn't wait) and its ready to serve! 20181004_170334.jpg
    Of course I have to have some beans with it, love my beans! Some people might think I ruined good leftover Pulled Pork by not just warming it up as is and making tacos that way but I'm telling you simmering it with traditional taco seasoning and little more BBQ rub, it adds SO many more Flavors... smoky, sweet, spicy, salty, savory. But everyone is entitled to their own opinions which I can respect. Let me know if you ever made tacos like this! Until another day,
    This is Smokinq signing off!
  2. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As long as it tastes good that matters.

    To do pulled pork of shredded beef brisket tacos I do very similarly to you. I don't had a lot of liquid but I add diced tomato and green chili and that gives me all the liquid I need as I heat/simmer it. Seasonings that get added are ground cumin and chili powder but not a whole lot on my pork and beef tacos, just to slant the flavor towards Mexican/Tex-Mex and taco flavor.
    Now the keys to eating for me is to throw the meat in a real tortilla or a store bought one you warm on a skillet until it starts to get a little stiff, gotta cook the nasty flavor out of it. Add whatever I like or have on hand at that point (onion, pico, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.) but what puts it over the top is squeezing fresh Lime juice on the meat in my tortilla before eating!!!! Heck just the meat, tortilla, and fresh lime juice is out of this world!

    As for ground venison taco meat I've been making a ton of it lately. The key to good ground taco meat (venison or beef) is cumin and plenty of chili powder to make it taste like taco meat. Other seasonings are just SPOG. I also liked to add a little tomato or chicken tomato bouillon as part of my salt component but it isn't too much. Again that gives it great tomato savory flavor but is not mandatory, it's just a trick to help go way above the average taco flavor!

    What is nice is with regular ground taco meat is you can just keep adding chili powder or a little cumin or other seasings, stir in, and taste until you get it right. I usually add a little salsa or diced tomato and green chili in it which gives it a little liquid.
    I often also add cilantro to it as well which is great. I have dehydrated as a back up for when I don't have fresh on hand but fresh can't be beat!
    Again a real or heavily doctored store bought tortilla makes all the difference in the world too.

    Best of luck with your taco meat!
  3. You make those tacos sound really good. Nice way to use pp and switch up regular tacos!

    @tallbm I'm curious now. What do you put in your chili seasoning, if you make it? To my taste, I'm used to putting the emphasis on chili powder when I'm making chili. Admittedly, my favorite taco seasoning is the Taco Bell brand packets. Nothing else I've tried, including making my own, tastes as good to me. Anything with a lot of chili powder tastes like chili to me. In fact, I have to leave it out of my rubs all together.

    Also, what do you mean by "real tortilla," as opposed to a store bought flour tortilla? A corn tortilla?
  4. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Your tacos look fantastic!
    Very nicely done & congrats on making the carousel!!
  5. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My chili seasoning:
    • SPOG on meat while browning (this is huge for great meat flavor and a lot of recipes do not state to do this and end up with bland meat)
    • Black Pepper
    • Onion and Garlic, preferably fresh but seasonings work in small batches of chili
    • Chili Powder - lots of it
    • Paprika - I add it anyhow but if getting too much spice from chili powder I switch to much more paprika
    • ground Cumin - helps give that chili flavor
    • Jalapeno - not a seasoning but is a major flavor component
    • Brown sugar - cuts through tomato acidity and gives you some sweetness that your tomatoes may not be providing enough of, to me also really turns to corner to have your chili taste like a chili. Use as little or as much as you like for sweetness
    • Flour - thickener, does change flavor some to make the chili richer and less soup like, and changes the chili color some
    • Beef bouillon or beef stock for the salt component of the chili - beef salt flavor, I don't add salt outside of when browning the meat.

      (Other things added for flavor as well but not really "seasoning")
    • Beans :eek: - Yep, born and raised in TX and love beans in my chili. Beans add great flavor and depth to a chili. I use dark red kidney (kinda sweet), black beans (adds to richness of liquid), and Pinto beans (preferred bean to eat).
    • canned Whole Peeled Tomato - I throw these in the blender and this is my liquid base
    • NEVER ANY WATER ADDED!!! - The liquid from tomatoes and beans and veggies is plenty. ALSO always simmer beans uncovered to avoid adding steam liquid to the beans. Nothing is worse than a bowl of chili that has a 1/4 inch of water sitting on top :(

    My chili seasoning pretty much has the same seasonings as my taco seasoning, minus cilantro and brown sugar.
    The difference will be in the amounts of certain seasonings used.
    For taco meat or any Mexican/Tex-Mex the ground cumin is a major factor in getting the authentic flavor you are looking for, just don't go wild with it because there is no easy way to dial it back short of adding more food to dilute it's potency :)
    There is more cumin in taco meat seasoning by volume/ratio than than in Chili.

    For example, 1 pound of taco meat might get a tablespoon of cumin (just throwing out eyeball measurements) and a chili that weighs 3-5 pounds would get some cumin as well but not to the ratio of 1 pound of food to 1 tablespoon of cumin.
    The amount of cumin changes the flavor profile changing to be more Mexican/Tex-Mex like on the taco meat vs the chili.

    Additionally with my chili if it starts getting too much heat from chili powder, then I switch to more paprika as the paprika in chili is pretty much a no heat substitute for more chili powder. Taco meat is such a smaller dish in volume that you could add way less chili powder without ever hitting the heat limit causing the need to switch to paprika... don't get me wrong paprika works perfectly fine in taco meat seasoning as well but to me you gotta have chili powder to some extent in addition to paprika or trying to go all paprika and no chili powder (yes I know paprika is a chile as well but it's a little different than chili powder).

    Take a look at the ingredients list of the Taco Bell taco seasoning pack. I bet you money the first 2 ingredients are chili powder and salt (they list from most used quantity to least used). The packet is basically a marked up container of chili powder and some of the other spices, but if it works for people and is convenient than that's what matters most in the end :)

    I'm with you on leaving out chili powder from rubs. It makes things start tasting too Mexican/Tex-Mex to me. If I plan to make brisket tacos or pulled pork tacos then I have no problem adding it to the seasoning/rub BUT as you can tell it is just as easy to add that stuff later if you decide to take regular pulled pork or brisket and make taco meat out of it :D

    As for "real tortilla" I'm meaning something that was basically fresh made. The store bought stuff that sits in a bag on a shelf in the bread aisle all has tooooo much of a Styrofoam taste to me. If you put one of those on a skillet and heat up until it basically starts to get stiff on both sides you pretty much have cooked whatever the styrofoam stuff is out of it but it's still not as good as a fresh made tortilla.
    Corn tortillas are a little bit of a different story. Store bought are not as bad as flour but do the same and heat them up where they get a little toasty and it really helps.

    Here in TX a number of stores carry a few different brands of "not cooked" tortillas in packs in the refrigerated cooler wall areas of the store like with the cheese wall. They are basically tortilla dough rolled out and separated by wax paper. You then throw them on a skillet or a comal (flat tortilla griddle) and cook them up like regular tortillas are done. They produce "real" tortillas as if you bought mix and made the dough and rolled them yourself.
    Also a number of Mexican and Tex-Mex places make fresh tortillas daily around here (with a tortilla machine) and you can go buy a dozen for a few bucks. Taco Cabana, a fast'ish food Tex-Mex place, has a fair number of locations in the Dallas/Ft Worth and surrounding areas and makes their tortillas daily. So if you have one near by you can always pop in and buy a dozen or two and they are good to go :)

    Phew that was a lot of info... slow day at work hahahah :D I hope I covered it all and feel free to ask any questions about anything in this encyclopedia of info I just posted hahaha :)
    KrisUpInSmoke likes this.
  6. R Blum

    R Blum Smoke Blower

    National Taco Day. Now you tell me. Always a day late and a dollar short.
  7. Well, goodness! Thanks for all the explanation, tips and tricks!
  8. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Congrats on making the carousel with some tacos you love.
    You can't go wrong with PP or PB tacos... Well maybe, but ya'd have to try mighty hard.
    Looks good man, much better than what I had for NTD... Nada :eek:

    There is a whole lot of 'Traditional' or 'Authentic' taco sacrilege going on up there... BUT!
    But that's okay, I may like them muy autentico, but I'm not beyond a little heretical cooking of the Latin persuasion.
    Sometimes I use what's at hand and make do.
    The only thing that matters at those times is it tasting good and soothing the cravings.
    One of my classics, I labeled it 'Chile's Pot of Hormel Heresy'.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2018
  9. chilerelleno

    chilerelleno Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    We're not too far apart on some things ;) :rolleyes:
  10. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hahaha Hormel Heresy :)

    Yeah there are many ways to make a chili as with taco meat and all other recipes.
    They main thing to me is that the food tastes good and makes people happy :)
  11. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Those tacos look wonderful to me. Nice Job.

    Point for sure.
  12. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The pulled pork tacos look awesome. Like!
  13. Thanks for all the information and the great ideas! I currently have an 8 pound shoulder on the smoker as we speak, and with just the two of us tonight, there is going to be lots of leftovers.. Im going to try the taco thing for sure now!

  14. JckDanls 07

    JckDanls 07 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Tacos look awesome... My version is... when meat is done simmering and thickened up I add in a half can of refried beans and a whole can of Rotell (drained) .. I actually drain and use the juice for some of the liquid part of the seasoning ...
  15. I saw the Giant sour cream container and had to see your location.. Elizabethtown here.
  16. Not too far from you about 30 miles west of Gettysburg!