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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Taco Meat

Taco Night!
Let's Dish

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The key to a really great taco is the meat. Simmered low and slow with a lot of bold flavors can take a taco to the next level. Don’t stop there, pick your choice of a vessel to serve your tacos, also important. Finally, finish by using your favorite ingredients full of bright colors and textures to fill your tacos. The best phrase I can think of to describe these tacos is eye candy.

This is my recipe for Homemade Taco Meat.

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Guacamole-13

Oregano

I’m using two fresh herbs for my tacos. Oregano from my Hanging Herb Garden and fresh cilantro.

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Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans

If you want my recipe for Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Pico de gallo

If you’d like my recipe for Pico de Gallo, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

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If you’d like my recipe for Chunky-Style Guacamole, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time: 42 minutes
Total Time: 52 minutes
Yields: 4 servings (12 tacos)

Note: A variety of fresh salsas and Pico de gallo are now available in the refrigerated section of the produce department in most grocery stores. Take advantage of these products to use as ingredients for taco meat, even guacamole.

Ingredients For Taco Meat:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 pounds of ground pork (substitute ground chicken, lean ground sirloin, or turkey)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced (substitute jalapeno)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons of taco seasoning
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups of beef stock, unsalted
3/4 cup of  store-bought fresh Pico de gallo
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup of sliced green onions, reserve green tops for garnish, thinly slice the tops on the bias

2 boxes of crunchy taco shells (substitute corn tortillas)
2 8-ounce packages of Mexican blend shredded cheese
2 limes, cut into wedges to serve with tacos
Cilantro for garnish
Green onion tops for garnish

Note: 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning per pound of ground meat.

Ingredients For Taco Seasoning:
1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

Directions For Taco Seasoning:
Add all the ingredients for the taco seasoning into a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Tip: Store taco seasoning, in an airtight container, in a dry cool place.

Directions For Taco Meat:
Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork, diced onions, diced green onions, minced Fresno chili, minced garlic, dried oregano, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper into the pan. Using a wooden spoon break up the meat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and fresh Pico de gallo, stir to combine. Next, add the 4 tablespoons of taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and beef stock. Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes.

At this point, all the liquid and seasonings have absorbed into the meat giving you a deep beefy flavor. Turn the heat off and add in the sliced green onion tops and cilantro leaves, mix to combine.  Transfer to a large serving bowl. It’s Taco Night!

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans

Chunky-Style Guacamole

My Hanging Herb Garden And Summertime Flowers

Pico de Gallo

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Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions

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It was touch and go for a while there, but, I was finally able to retrieve my last set of pictures for this recipe. It’s funny, you get so used to your computer, like a comfortable shoe. This one has been with me a long time so I have to make this post the last one that I will ever type on”old Betsy” before I put her to pasture.

Anyway enough will all that let me tell you about my Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions #sweetandsmokeyribs.

First, I’m going to show you how to turn your oven into a make-shift smoker.

Second, you need to know, that when you buy ribs, there is some preparation that you need to do before you can begin to spice up your ribs.

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Applewood Chips

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours to overnight
Cook Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, foil, 2 large mixing bowls, 3-quart saucepot

Ingredients:
2 racks of St, Louis Ribs, each rack 1 1/2 to 2-pounds
2 large sweet onions, thick slices
1 bag of Applewood chips, 3 cups for this recipe
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground Chipotle powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 28-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s
2 to 3 dashes of liquid smoke
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apricot jam

Directions:
First, turn the rack over and on the underside remove the silver skin. You need to remove this because it will help you spices penetrate through the meat, and this piece of silver skin is not appetizing at all.

Take your fingers at one corner of the back side and start to separate it from the ribs, kind of like your starting a piece of tape on a new role you want to get started. Once you grab a hold of it, it should peel right off for you, as you can see in the picture above.

Next, trim off a couple of the end rib pieces. This rectangle style that St. Louis ribs are known to have will ensure for even cooking. Now, if you like those end pieces, you can, by all means, leave them on. It’s also a good idea to trim off some of that extra meat that’s on the back side, as seen in the above picture. I like the ribs to be neatly trimmed of any excess fat as possible. The picture on the left side showing the rack of ribs (without the spice rub) is an example of how I like my ribs to look.

To make my oven into a makeshift smoker. Add 3 cups of apple wood chips to a large bowl. Add enough water to cover the wood chips and let sit for at least 1 hour.

While that’s happening you want to get the spice rub ready for the dry rub. In a bowl, add garlic powder, ground Chipotle powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, ground mustard, Kosher salt. cayenne pepper, Ancho chili powder, dried oregano (optional), dark brown sugar, sweet paprika, and fresh ground black pepper.

I know that’s a lot of spices but remember it’s for 2 racks of ribs. Whisk all the spices together then rub them all over both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs on the pans and refrigerate for 2 hours, overnight is even better.

Note: All of this can be done in advance if you know you going to be making this recipe.

On each of the baking sheets lay another piece of foil twice the length of the baking sheet. Spread out 1 of the sliced onions on each of the pans. The onions will act as a bed to set the ribs on so the heat can transfer easily around them.

In the pictures following, you can see to fold the extra foil over the ribs and fold up all the sides around the rack to trap in the heat. This will allow the ribs to steam for 1 1/2 hours at 275-degrees F. Low and slow.

Next, uncover the ribs, place the wood chips in an oven safe vessel, and place the wood chips below the oven rack holding the ribs. Turn the temperature down to 230-degrees F. and let them smoke for another 3 hours.

I like my ribs to be tender but not to the point where they will fall apart when you cut them. This means they are overcooked. If after the 2 1/2 hours you see the ends of the rib bones are exposed on one end, they are done. If not, continue smoking. Watch for the internal temperature to reach 180-degrees. Take a knife sticking the point of the knife between the bones and if the knife comes out really easily they’re done. There are just so many variables when cooking ribs, it just takes some practice. Getting to know your oven is important. The goal is to get the internal temperature of the meat to 180-185 degrees because the barbecue sauce stage is next.

You can see in this picture above shows the rib bones are exposed, and the ribs are still intact. Remove the foil pouches. Transfer the cooked onions to the bottom of the sheet pan and again place the ribs on top.

I’m not making barbecue sauce from scratch but I am adding a few ingredients to the bottled sauce I’ll be using.

In a large bowl, add a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. To the sauce, add real maple syrup, liquid smoke for some smokey flavor, and apricot jam. In a saucepot on low heat, simmer the sauce, occasionally stirring, to allow the flavors to combine, around 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven. Brush this delicious sauce all over the ribs on both sides. Remove the wood chips, they’ve done their job. Set the oven on broil and put both racks back in but I leave the oven door cracked. The reason for this is so that the sugar in the sauce will burn really quickly so it’s important to keep an eye on them, it doesn’t take long maybe 10 minutes. Take the ribs out of the oven because they’re ready.

These Sweet And Smokey Ribs With Caramelized Onions are ready. Serve with some of that awesome barbecue sauce in case you want some extra to dip your ribs in. Talk about finger-lickin’ good!

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Asian-Style Sticky Wings

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Wings are my “go-to” for any type of getting together. There are so many different ways you can prepare them. These Asian-Style Sticky Wings are my favorite. Let’s start with the fresh produce I bought from the farmers’ market.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 2 large mixing bowls, whisk, three 1/2-size sheet pans with racks, aluminum foil, tongs, plastic wrap, 3-quart saucepot

Ingredients:
3 packages of chicken wings (approx. 2 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons of Five-Spice powder
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of onions powder
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
3/4 cup of soy sauce, low sodium
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon of garlic, minced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
3/4 cup of light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons of honey, organic
1/2 cup of roasted salted peanuts,  roughly chopped (optional)
1/4 cup of green onions, thinly sliced on the bias

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
For the marinade, start with a large mixing bowl, add Five-Spice powder, ground cumin, sweet paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and vegetable oil, whisk to combine.

Transfer all the wing into the mixing bowl and toss with the marinade making sure all the wings are well coated. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

For the sicky sauce, start by adding the low sodium soy sauce into a saucepot. Next, add the garlic, ginger, Fresno chili, light brown sugar, and honey, whisk to combine. Turn the heat to medium-high until the sauce comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally, simmer until it reduces by a little more than half about 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering remove the marinaded wing from the frig. On a rimmed baking sheet pans covered in foil with a wire rack in place, using a pair of tongs, arrange all the wings onto the rack and allow all the excess marinade to drip off the wings.

After the excess wet rub has dripped off of the wings, arrange the wings on 2 similar sheet pans also covered in foil with racks spreading the wings out where they do not touch each other. This will allow the heat from the oven can flow all around the wings and they will cook evenly.

Tip: For this next step, keep the oven door slightly ajar during the broiling process. Keep a close eye on the wings so they don’t burn from the sugars in the marinade.

Bake the wings for 35 minutes turning the wings over halfway through. Switch the oven to the broil setting. Broil for 5 minutes getting a good caramelization on the outside. Flip them over and broil for another 5 minutes.

Once the wings come out of the oven,  transfer them into a large mixing bowl and pour that wonderful sweet and spicy sticky sauce all over the wings. Using a pair of tongs, toss until all the wings get completely coated.

Arrange all the Asian-Style Sticky Wings onto a large serving platter. Garnish with chopped peanuts and thinly sliced green onions. These wings are sweet from the brown sugar, slightly salty from the soy sauce, sticky from the honey, and spicy from the Fresno chili. I promise you won’t be able to each just one.

 

 

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