With the warmer weather approaching, now is the perfect time to plan your Spring/Summer Mexican menu. As I learn more and more about Mexican cuisine (I am obsessed with Rick Bayless BTW) I find myself making more and more of it at home. There are so many cultural tidbits that I didn’t know and love learning. For example, did you know that tacos are traditionally served on soft corn tortillas? In regular taquerías, each tortilla is reinforced with a second one, just in case you have leftover meat.
Your tacos can have all kinds of meat, and it seems that the simpler they are, the better they are. Recently I had lunch at Los Guachos which is a small taquería here that serves authentic al pastor. Al Pastor is rubbed pork put into a tall vertical spit, similar to gyros, and shaved off for tacos. This is typically not easy to find so the alternative, carnitas, can be just as yummy! Carnitas are pulled pork which can be quite juicy when made correctly. Authentic chicken tacos are rolled and fried and are made with pulled chicken, and not grilled. Grilled chicken is left for fajitas. One thing I recently learned that I was not aware of is there is a big difference in the vegetables you put on your taco versus fajitas. Traditional tacos are topped with chopped cilantro and white onions. Leave the peppers and onions for the fajitas and remember to cook them with the meat. Tacos are typically not topped with dairy, no cheese or sour cream are usually added, and sadly neither is guacamole.
Limes are also an important part of Mexican cuisine. Depending on how addicted you are to limes (do not accept lemons), it’s up to you if you want to squeeze a bunch or none at all. Be sure to roll them under your palm on the counter before cutting to burst open some of the individual segments and get the juices flowing. Remember to save some of the lime slices for the tequila. Studies suggest a shot of tequila before mealtime can stimulate the appetite and aid digestion. So sip away, alternating your tequila drinks with a glass of water to remain hydrated. Always choose a high-quality tequila by looking for 100 percent agave on the label. Skip the sugary margarita mixes and mix your tequila with a calorie-free club soda and a lime for added flavor. Remember, it is your party and you can create your tacos any way you want! I love avocados and put them on everything! Here is Bellisari’s version of our favorite taco.
Saigon Brisket Tacos
2 lbs brisket
1 jar Bellisari's Saigon Street Sauce
¼ cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 cup onion
2 Tbsp. chipotle chiles canned
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 pre-made pico de gallo
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. seasoning salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
24 corn tortillas
1 can beer
In a large Dutch oven, brown beef in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Once all of the sides are browned, remove brisket to a plate. Add onions to pan and sauté until lightly browned. Then add beer and deglaze pan. Meanwhile, rub brisket on both sides with minced garlic and salt, then chipotles.
Remove beer and onion mixture from heat and carefully lower meat into pot and cover tightly with lid. Place in a 350°F oven for 3 hours.
Remove brisket from oven, pull it out of the pot and place brisket on a cutting board to cool. When it’s cool enough to touch, shred meat with a fork and your fingers and transfer back to remaining cooking liquid in pot. There won’t be much, maybe a cup. If there is more than one cup in the pot, pour some off.
Mix in lime juice, cilantro and scallions. Stir the meat with the Bellisari's Saigon Sauce and other ingredients until well combined. Add salt to taste. Serve the meat mixture in warm corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo and cubed avocado.