10.08.2012

Turkey Tacos

Tacos. Kids like traditional crunchy shells. I prefer soft corn tortillas. Husband Todd eats whatever's there. That's the easy part.

The hard part is creating a meat mixture that's not overly salty, greasy or spicy. Using a seasoning packet is one way to go unless you're reading this post. If you live in a taco house (figuratively speaking) keep cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and dried oregano on hand. C'mon who doesn't?

I have my new internet friend Cook's Illustrated to thank for this concoction. Also my human friend Gayle who raved about Cook's Illustrated Best Recipes Cookbook (it's made from paper) then shunned me for not owning a copy. I Googled CI to see what the fuss was all about and found their online magazine. After a free two-week trial I was hooked. Now I'm a full member and have yet to dislike a recipe. Well worth the 30 or so bucks.

Recipe
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Beef Tacos 

CI's version calls for one pound ground beef. I use three pounds ground turkey thigh (I live with three boys) and increase the seasonings only a bit. Kids like it bland. What can I say? If you are all grown up try tripling the seasonings and adding a bit more onion. What in the world is a bit? Give this David Lebovitz article a quick read for his soothing thoughts on the subject. I sure felt better after reading it.

Heat in a large skillet over medium heat:
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

When hot stir in:
  • 1 small onion, minced until you can't mince no more

Cover the pot and turn heat lower so onions sizzle without burning. Stir every minute or so letting liquid from the lid drip into the pan. Keep this up for about 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add and stir constantly for about one minute, until fragrant*:
  • 2 teaspoons each ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I skip this)

Add:
  • 3 pounds ground turkey thigh

Mix everything together and arrange mixture evenly in pan. Let it cook without stirring for a minute or two. Flip a section at a time with a spatula (pancake flipper type). Repeat this process a few times. Then break the meat up into taco shell ready chunks.

When meat is just about cooked stir in:
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2-3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (start with 1/2 cup and add more if it's dry)
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat enough to keep it simmering but not boiling. Stir and continue breaking up meat for about ten minutes. The liquid will reduce and mixture should thicken but not be dry. Taste meat and add more salt if you like. Cover meat and turn off heat.

I usually make this a few hours before mealtime. Helps thicken up the stuff. Totally optional.

Taco shells:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Arrange crunchy taco shells on a cookie sheet.
  • Heat in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Toppings:
  • Pico de gallo salsa from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Pete's Fresh Market
  • Chunks of avocado
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Romaine lettuce sliced into thin shreds
  • Shredded cheddar of course!
**Extra! Extra!**
  • If everything is pasty and dry add 1-2 tablespoons water to loosen it up.