Taco Night! Say it to yourself…doesn’t it bring a smile to your face? There is just something most people enjoy about Taco Night – getting to pick their own toppings from the assortment of little bowls and dishes, assembling the tacos themselves…probably the same way we all love a make-your-own-sundae bar. The first time my husband requested Taco Night, I had a vision….a vision of organic whole grain soft tortillas, loaded with chunks of grilled and seasoned fish, fresh pico di gallo, homemade guacamole, maybe some sauteed onions and red peppers…my husband’s vision, however, consisted of this:
Obviously, some compromise had to be found. Since his first Taco Night request, a good deal of tweaking has been done to perfect the event, and I have discovered through much trial and error, that, in my husband’s mind, 2 rules do exist when it comes to Taco Night. Rule # 1: Tacos contain red meat. (ground beef, sliced steak: yes….fish, chicken, duck: NO) Rule #2: Tacos should be served in hard/crunchy corn shells. Rule #2a: If the wife insists that we are having Soft Taco Night, only white, flour tortillas are acceptable.
Surprisingly, Taco Night, despite it’s rules, has evolved into a dinner that manages to get quite a few veggies into my husband’s belly. I have also found ways to successfully avoid using any of the MSG laden, extended 10 year shelf life taco dinner products that you find in the grocery store.
On this particular evening, I started with the refried beans. My husband actually likes refried beans, so as far as I am concerned, they are a vegetable. I also happen to make kick-ass refried beans:
Kitty’s Kick-Ass Refried Beans
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 canned chipotle peppers, in adobo sauce, finely chopped
ground cumin, chili powder, Adobo powder – to taste
1/2 cup stock (chicken or veggie, water if no stock on hand)
1) Saute the peppers and onions in some olive oil, adding the garlic after a few minutes. Add your ground seasonings, giving them a few minutes to toast. Add the chipotles (one for mild, 2 or more for spicy, but remember, a little goes a long way!). Allow chipotles a minute or so to incorporate with the veggies.
2) Stir in the beans. It should look like this:
3) Add stock or water, partially cover, and leave on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid has mostly absorbed.
4) Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until it is almost smooth, but leaving the appearance of crushed beans. You may either serve it as-is, OR, what I like to do is:
5) Spoon mixture into a small casserole dish, cover mixture with shredded cheddar cheese, and place in a 300 degree oven, covered for 10 – 15 minutes. Mmmm…
Next, I browned some organic, grass-fed ground beef, and seasoned it heavily with cumin, chili powder, and, one of my all-time favorite seasoning blends, Goya Adobo powder, a perfect blend of salt, garlic & onion powders, and tumeric. (Do you remember that Goya commercial from the 80s, with the happy Hispanic family showering their mother with praise at the dinner table, after which she throws up her hands with a smile, bewilderingly looks at the camera and says : “All I did was Adobo the chicken!”. Adobo, ladies and gentlemen, is so good, it’s a verb. And Goya’s Adobo is NOT to be confused with another unfortunate Goya product, called ‘Sazon! ‘. ‘Sazon!’ is pure evil/MSG in a foil lined packet. Trust me, you don’t want to Sazon! anything). Once the meat is browned, simply add 1/2 cup of water and let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until most of the water is dissolved. This will leave you with perfect taco meat.
Add to the mix some shredded cheese, guacamole for yours truly, organic white flour tortillas, and some leftover roasted tomatillo sauce, and you have a perfect little taco night. Look, his and hers tacos:
Pinto beans are loaded with cholesterol-lowering fiber, and heart healthy magnesium and folate. They also contain 170% of the daily requirement of molybdenum, a trace mineral which helps to rid the body of sulfites. My husband ate plenty of the beans, and don’t forget, they were also cooked with peppers and onions. I also convinced him to add a little of the tomatillo sauce, which, as we discussed last week, is brimming with good stuff.
On our official veggie fake out broccoli rating scale, I give this Taco Night 6 out of 10 heads of broccoli.