Taco truck

The first few paragraphs of this blog make me sound like an insufferable braggart. Please bear with me, because there is a humblish point to it all, and a really great recipe for you. Mmmkay?

I wonder if I’ll soon reach the point where I don’t have want for any more kitchen gadgets. With the wedding and my birthdays and Christmases and general enthusiasm, I am starting to be in the incredibly confusing position of owning most everything I could dream to own. Sure, there are some missing players. A juicer, perhaps. A soda siphon, maybe. An ice cream maker that doesn’t require pre-freezing, sure enough. But I’m already in need of a butler’s pantry to hold all the things I have right now, and it’s highly unlikely I’ll have a butler’s pantry anytime soon.

This Christmas heralded the addition of several new, major kitchen players. A meat slicer, which threw me into a spontaneous song and dance number. A beautiful, blue Le Creuset tagine, which has already unloaded some pretty badass Moroccan food into my waiting maw (Maw as in “mouth”, not “mother”. Although she’d be welcome to come have some Moroccan food, too). The new Cuisinart rotisserie, which made a roasted bird that would bring tears to your eyes.

Ingredients came trotting along next to the new appliances. Gorgeous Lehua honey, a can of truffle juice (an ingredient I’ve long wanted to experiment with, but could not afford), a box of New Moon conversation hearts with pictures of Taylor Lautner on the front…riches, I tell you. Riches.

It’s baffling to me how blessed I am, given that I’ve done almost nothing to deserve any of it. I wonder if God has a special culinary plan for me. Maybe cross-breeding a truffle with slab bacon. Or inventing a way to make rotisserie chicken stretch for even more than the current four meals, like loaves and fishes. Or maybe providing you with a great recipe for tacos that will stampede onto your tongue, kick you in the sour region, cup the balls of your salty region, deal a reach around to your umami region, and then parade down your belly in a fanfare of glory and spice and maybe trumpets. Yes, that’s probably it.

Enter–the meat slicer. It’s not a crazy-heavy-duty model like you’d find in a deli or major meat-packing plant. It’s almost understated, with it’s lil’ 8 inch blade and dialy-knob. But it’s perfect for us, having never had a meat slicer.

Actually, I’m a little scared of it. You see, I have it under good authority that the human body is comprised of meat, and that the slicer is not programmed to discriminate between already dead meat of the animal variety and very-much-alive meat of my personal hand.

But it does its thing, and it does it well. The day I brought it home, I sliced up a Nieman Ranch ham chunk into lunch meat. I love lunch meat, but it’s difficult to find the good, natural stuff at a reasonable price. This particular 2 lb hunk of ham was FREE with purchase of a single bone prime rib from WhoFo, which was also on sale. But the ham would have cost $8 at full price, and that’s for the NR brand, which I adore. A single pound of mediocre, factory lunch meat can cost $8, and it’s nowhere near as fresh. WIN!

We had prime rib the other night, as a special treat, but only ate 1/3 of the meat. The rest was wrapped up for leftovers. Which came in very handy.

Yesterday I had a hankering for tacos from the taco stand by our house. We drove over after kickboxing, but it was closed. The indignity! The horror! After sulking home, an idea began percolating in my skull. Maaaaaybe we could make tacos at home. Maaaaaybe we could do it with leftover prime rib. Maaaaaybe I’ll be awarded the nobel prize for being a complete badass of leftovers. You know, just maybe.

I sliced an onion paper-thin with the meat slicer, then sliced the 1.5 lbs of prime rib into as thin of slices as I could manage. It sort of fell apart as it sliced, given the fat marbling and rareness of the meat, but worked out just fine in the end, because God loves tacos, too. and Now here’s an important point. If you have any level of sanity in your kitchen, and if you don’t have so many gadgets that you belong on an episode of Hoarders on TLC, then you probably don’t have a meat slicer. THIS IS FINE. Just use one of these options:

–Ask your butcher to bone the prime rib and slice it raw. If he’s going to charge you for the bones anyway, make sure he wraps them up for you to take home and turn into soup.

–Go to the deli and get the rare roast beef sliced paper thin instead of using prime rib at all.

–Bone your prime rib, wrap it in saran wrap tightly, stick it in the freezer until it is slightly frozen but not solid, then slice with a sharp knife as thinly as you can manage.

–Use a mandolin or a sharp knife to slice your onions as thin as possible.

–If you can’t afford prime rib, feel free to use these same methods for incredibly thinly sliced sirloin or round roast or whatever you want. Just make sure you slice thin enough for the slightly tougher cuts of meat.
See? You can do this at home with out pulling a hamstring. Ha! Get it? Ham??

Now that you have your piles of onion and meat–

Marinade

-1 poblano (or similar) pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded
-1 chunk of onion (about 1″)
-1 T salt
-Juice from 1 lime
-2 t chipotle chile flakes (if you don’t have this, substitute 1/2 t smoked paprika and 1 t red chile flakes)
-3 T water
-1 t cumin
-1 t coriander
-1.5 T apple cider vinegar

Stick it in the blender and blend until smooth-ish. Taste for flavor/salt, then toss with meat and onions to coat.

The rest of this is so easy it’s laughable.

Assembly

–Heat a cast iron or similarly heavy skillet until very, very hot. Rub with a touch of oil if it’s not well-seasoned. I don’t recommend a teflon-type nonstick skillet for this.
–Toss your whole bowl of onions, meat, and marinade into the skillet. Make sure it’s not too overcrowded in the pan. This means using a large enough pan.

–Allow to sizzle for a moment before tossing with tongs. You want a touch of crust to develop, but not too much.
–Then toss fairly often, until the meat is all cooked but not rubbery. A touch of pink is still okay and better than all grayness.
–Place spoonfuls of meat into fresh tortillas with salsa (I used a super-simple homemade roasted tomato salsa).

–Wrap up and eat

You can do this, I swear on it. It’s not the most traditional of flavors, but it’s got such a nice tang from the vinegar, which I’ve been really into lately. And the slight smokiness of the chipotle (or paprika) with the brightness of the lime really wakes you up. And if you’re liberal with the salsa and stingy with things like cheese and/or sour cream, it’s a well-balanced, filling meal with few enough calories that you won’t wake up tomorrow with floppy back-titties like Glenn Beck. No promises on your personality, though. That’s in God’s hands.

6 thoughts on “Taco truck”

  1. I just got a meat slicer for christmas too! And I love tacos. And DH loves to cook big chunks of meat. It's fate. Now I just need some tortillas.

    And btw, Love your blog. I clicked through from tastespotting and started reading. I recognized a kindred spirit (it was the cracker post that did it. I love to win potluck.) and promptly added you to my reader. Definitely a new favorite. Keep it up. :)

  2. I asked for a meat slicer for Christmas. Mike told me he was getting me a meat slicer for Christmas. Mike told everyone else that he spoke to that he was getting me a meat slicer for Christmas.

    But I didn't get a meat slicer for Christmas.

    (Please pardon the rain cloud over my head right now)

  3. In his defense, he had done a lot of research on meat slicers and the only ones he could find had plastic parts or wheels that were prone to breaking so he decided against it….and bought me a gorgeous red Le Creuset Dutch oven. I love it so much that I literally carried the lid around with me for the better part of the first day. So, yeah, he did okay.

    (But I still want a meat slicer, and intend to smuggle one home when he's not paying attention)

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