Taco night

Taco night

In my house, we don’t entertain, we just have people over. And I treat it like a huge family meal, which it always is – real family and our family of close friends. I cook the same as I would for our family of six (just two or three or four times of it), set it all out on the kitchen island and let everyone help themselves. I find that when feeding a crowd, you really don’t need to impress people with the kind of food you’re making – everyone is just impressed that you can make so much of it.

Ingredients

  • In my house, we don’t entertain, we just have people over. And I treat it like a huge family meal, which it always is – real family and our family of close friends. I cook the same as I would for our family of six (just two or three or four times of it), set it all out on the kitchen island and let everyone help themselves. I find that when feeding a crowd, you really don’t need to impress people with the kind of food you’re making – everyone is just impressed that you can make so much of it.
  • So even though we were a little crazed with end the of school year and packing up for our transition back to California, we had the family over for an impromptu gathering before we took off. Taco night was easy and relaxed. All I cooked was the meat, and the rest was assembly – big salad, grated cheddar, and tortillas, guacamole and salsa from the store.
  • There’s always a nostalgia value to foods of our youth, and tacos are one of mine. My nostalgia foods are a funny mix of my mom’s Chinese home cooking and American dishes from the 1970s that my mom would dutifully prepare for my brother and me using popular convenience mixes and ground beef.
  • These days I prefer the lighter taste of ground turkey instead of beef, and I like to recreate old favorites – sloppy joes, spaghetti with meatballs – without additive-laden seasoning packets. Monosodium glutamate, or MSG – hiding out as “natural flavoring” or “hydrolyzed soy protein” – is only part of the issue.
  • Seasoning packets, like other processed foods, contain at least twice the sodium you would use at home and a hefty dose of sugar as well. In processed foods, it’s alarming how much salt is in sweets and how much sugar is in salty products: each serves to hide the excess of the other. The problem with this overdose of additives is that while foods taste good while you are eating them, they make you feel bad afterward – heavy, tired and probably really, really thirsty.
  • It’s much easier, cheaper and healthier to make ground meat tacos with a few spices you probably already have in your pantry. I use chili powder, cumin and oregano.
  • Spice purists may turn up their noses at chili pepper – a blend of dried chiles combined with other spices, often oregano, cumin, garlic powder – as quality varies greatly. More options are now widely available for better customization – you can buy different single-chile powders, such as ancho or chipotle, and combine them with other spices yourself. Paprika, also made from dried peppers, also works, and smoked paprika would be great too.
  • But for the time-pressed, a good-quality chili pepper blend makes an easy start. And if you have it, a little extra cumin and oregano are nice. You could even add a bit of cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • But my spice combo is pretty much what I like to use in turkey chili, which makes me either very consistent or very boring. In probably-misguided frugality, I only keep a pared-down collection of favorite spices so that everything stays fresher.
  • I only discovered in recent years that you really don’t need oil in the pan first when browning ground meat.
  • Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it’s no longer pink.
Read the whole recipe on chinese grandma