Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Beef Chronicles:Tacos with Salsa Cruda

What are these Chronicles all about? Here's an intro.

It's generally easier to eat in than out when you are toting around small children. That was my thinking when I grabbed a package of ground beef from the freezer on my way out the door on a recent visit to my sister's place . Although her downtown apartment is just up the street from the oh-so-dangerous Bofinger, I vowed to cook our supper, rather than order take-out.

I'd forgotten what it's like to cook in a tiny apartment kitchen and the challenges it brings: minimal counter space, über-high cupboards, many many stairs to climb with groceries...Oh, and don't forget the two (of four) furry friends waiting for you to drop something just outside the kitchen. I am totally not used to cooking under such scrutiny.

The 'cousins': Roxy & Tulip

Fortunately my sister had a kicking food processor which more than made up for the cramped quarters and left me asking myself why I don't have one of these modern conveniences; it sure whipped our salsa into shape in record time. If you're decent with a knife and have the time, this salsa is better chopped by hand--and looks prettier--but this lazy version is just fine to serve up when everyone is starving after a long, hard day of shopping.

Lazy Salsa Cruda

4 medium tomatoes, washed and quartered

1/2 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 Serrano or jalapeno chilies, quartered and seeded

3/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and stemmed

1/2 cup water

juice of 1 lime

Coarse salt

Combine tomatoes, onion, chilies, cilantro, water, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt in a food processor. Pulse until the salsa is chunky and well mixed. Add lime juice and pulse again. Season with more salt to taste.

OK, so around here we eat a lot of tacos. For some odd reason, Noah will eat pretty much anything as long as it is wrapped in a tortilla, so I stock up on corn tortillas from my favorite Mexican shop (Tortilleria Maya for you locals) and freeze them for dishing up later with re-fried beans, shredded chicken or spiced beef. Tacos are our cheap, fast and easy weeknight dinner and not really something I'd think of blogging about, but I'm committed to chronicling our local beef; hence this post!

Spiced Taco Filling

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon dried garlic
2 tablespoons water

For spice blend:
Heat a large cast iron on medium heat until quite hot but not smoking. add cumin seed and toast gently for a minute or two. Remove cumin from pan and cool. In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, combine cumin, black peppercorn, dried oregano and dried garlic. Grind to a powder. Add chili powder and pulse just to combine. Set aside.

Heat the same skillet again and add oil. When oil is hot, add onions and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño-if using- and spice blend. Cook another minute or so.
Add meat to the pan, crumble with a wooden spoon and stir well to combine with onion mixture. Stir the meat while it is cooking to help it brown evenly, breaking up any large chunks.
After meat is well browned and sticking to the bottom of the pan a little bit, add the water and scrape the pan vigorously to remove all the browned bits. Turn heat to low and simmer until liquid has evaporated. Season well with salt.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas, plenty of shredded cheese and salsa cruda.
Margaritas are optional.

Just so I don't get into trouble, I better add that my sister's high-ceiling-ed, creaky hardwood floored apartment is actually pretty awesome. I miss those days--even if the storage is atrocious.
And look, she was even able to pull together a peach & ginger pie while I was preparing the tacos, so the kitchen is somewhat workable.

Gosh it was good; we must be related.

More Beef Chronicles:

In Which we Buy A Cow
An Introduction
Rib Steak With Red-Wine Butter
Rosemary-Garlic Marinated T-Bone
Cumin-Scented Kebabs
Sesame-Beef Lettuce Wraps


Roving Lemon said...

I justify my (secondhand) food processor almost entirely on the amount of salsa I make with it. Chopped by hand may be more aesthetically pleasing, but in my kitchen, chopped by food processor means that it actually gets made. Maybe the next batch will go on some of those beef tacos....

melissa said...

I'd have to process my salsa too. My husband does not like chunky salsa (chunky anything, really). I'm a master mincer! In fact it help w/ my knife skills when I was in culinary school. :)

I'll have to try these tacos-we eat tacos alot around here.

Elizabeth said...

MMMmmm, I'm a taco kind of girl too. It could be my parents live in Mexico for 6 months. When they get back, my Mother indulges our cravings with Pico de Gallo, Fish Tacos, chiles Rellenos and all other sorts of South of the Border goodness.

That pie looks awesome too, no recipe? :)

Cheryl Arkison said...

I totally get missing the small but character apartments! Sometimes I look around the house and wonder how we ever did it and secretly kind of wish I could go back to something seemingly simpler.
Tacos look great, no luck here with hand held food and The Monster.

NKP said...

Tasty and family friendly, what more could you ask for!
I love the pups' eyes, so striking.

Barbara said...

Great taco filling recipe. I use my processor, but pulse so it's a little chunky.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

These tacos look awesome! I love all the spicy flavors....yum!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Tacos are one of my favorite lazy evening meals. They don't take much work at all and Samuel gets so excited about them. Plus you can throw all sorts of leftovers into them to clean out the fridge. :-)

Andrea said...

Soft tacos are big around here too - heck we even make our ham and cheese sandwiches in tortillas! There are always at least 2 packages in my freezer - kids do seem to like them! Loving the beef chronicles!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm definitely a speed salsa maker, so the food processor is essential equipment.

Deborah said...

You would not believe how much this has just made me crave tacos. It's past midnight, and now I feel like I need tacos!

Kelsey B. said...

very nice! I can already think of a dozen things I want to eat with salsa cruda!

test it comm said...

Those tacos look tasty! I can always go for tacos and I like to experiment with the filings.

Julie said...

Ooh, I'm going to try this with bison. (As for the salsa - I always get Mike to do the fine mincing! He's my manual food processor!)

Emily said...

Hey! I'm just like Noah. That is one smart boy.
This looks very delicious. Especially with the fresh salsa. Mmm.

Miranda said...

Youre lucky the dogs werent IN the kitchen! Yeah its a little bit hairy ( literally) in our place!


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