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"Tacos Guanajuateños"

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Curious to see what everyone thinks of this recipe of my own creation/adaptation.


This is a Holiday/Special Occasion favorite back home in California. My Stepfather is from a little town called Aldama in the state of Guanajuato in Mexico and he once told me this was the best taco he had ever tasted. The original recipe my "Abuela" (Grandma) taught me was a little different because some of the things she put in these delicious tacos are nearly impossible to find here in the states. Some of the peppers she would put in this recipe would require a new roof to installed in your mouth if you ate them so I have made it less hot.

Ingredients
Marinade
1 Papaya, diced
1 ½-2 cans of Old Style Beer or 2-3 cups of water or 2-3 Beef Stock/Broth
3-4 shots of Patron Tequila (or whatever kind you have)
1 tsp. Achiote (Annatto) Seeds
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
1 tsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
2 Garlic cloves

Main Dish
2 lbs. Skirt or Flank Steaks
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
½ large Spanish onion
5 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Yellow Pepper, diced
½ cup Cilantro, chopped
3 Limes cut in half

Grind the annatto seeds, cumin seeds and whole peppercorns, in a mortar and pestle, molcajete y tejolote, spice grinder or coffee grinder. If you don't have these you can substitute pre-ground spices or crush all the dry spices under a saucepan.

Mix the dry spices with the other liquids, salt, papaya and garlic in a blender until well blended.
Put meat into a large Zip-lock baggie and pour in marinade. If the liquid is not enough to cover the meat add more water, stock or beer. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Strain out meat from marinade and cut cross-wise against the grain in fine strips 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and set aside

In a large hot pan or skillet (medium-high heat) drizzle olive oil then add the red pepper flakes and onion, sauté till onion starts to brown. Add meat first then garlic and stir together. Cook until meat begins to brown on all sides. When nearly done add in peppers and stir together. Once the meat is desired doneness fold in chopped cilantro and remove from heat. Squeeze limes evenly over meat and stir it all together. Add salt, cumin and pepper to taste.

Spoon meat into corn tortillas (homemade preferably), diced tomato, diced tomatillo, lettuce, Crema Mexicana (or Sour Cream), Chihuahua cheese, Ranchero cheese or Queso Fresco or whatever you like on your tacos. Serve with Spanish, or Spanish Saffron Rice and garnish plate with some snipped cilantro sprigs and a dollop of Crema Mexicana on top of the rice with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

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post #2 of 19
I'm not seeing enough acid to really trigger the achiote. It's certainly not necessary to "trigger" the achiote as would happen in so-called 'Pibil" style dishes. I just happen to like that effect with achiote.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 19
Looks pretty good to me! :lips: (hic!) And it'sa nice touch to use the papaya, which acts as a natural tenderizer on the tough cut of meat.

But you seem to have taken out ALL the heat :cry: Or is the "yellow pepper" supposed to be an aji amarillo?

Phil -- I didn't know that you need acid to get the color out of achiote! :confused: I thought that grinding it makes it easier for it to work.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 19
For color you don't.

Jane Butel's writings indicate that there is a mild vegetal flavor that achiote will produce when combined with enough acid. Thus the common pairing of achiote and naranja agria. There's so much other flavor going on in that situation that it's hard to be sure. I think there's a flavor benefit, but it could just be the power of suggestion and color.

Wikipedia describes achiote as "nearly flavorless".

Maybe it's a weak umami/glutamate source? Not flavorful itself, but an enhancer?

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Like bitter orange or vinegar you mean. Hmmm I wonder... one of my issues is that I don't normally measure stuff out while I cook so when I write out a recipe it might not be exactly accurate. So... calling on your expertise would you say 1/4 cup of lemon juice or orange and 1/4 cup white vinegar would do the trick? I would use Naranja Agria (bitter orange) but can't find it locally.

Speaking of "Pibil" I have the recipe from Robert Rodriguez for Puerco Pibil as featured/mentioned in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" but have not attempted it. Partly because it calls for 5 pounds of meat and partly because I can't find banana leaves (or at least I haven't yet).

Actually to put this recipe in context I omitted the Habaneros and chipotle I would normally throw in there because this recipe is being featured in my company's newsletter "Toque Talk" and most of these people in the office can't handle heat.
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #6 of 19
Ah, so it's more a flavor thing. Makes sense.

If you do add acid, just be careful that you don't add too much along with the other tenderizers, or marinate the meat so long that it gets mushy.

But I still want to know when you're inviting me over to taste this! :lips:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #7 of 19
Here's Jane Butel's page that started all this for me. Not a great scan, but legible enough.



It's a good recipe too!

Lemon or Lime juice straight is probably acidic enough to trigger it.

What I haven't figured out yet is this. My best source for annato powder (until recently) is an Asian grocer. I just haven't seen an asian dish that used it. Although I suspect real tandoori paste might.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #8 of 19
I'm in agreement with the idea of adding orange. I also have one question. Your recipe recommends including the garlic during the process of browning the flank steak. In my experience, overcooking garlic (which would be the case if it were left in the mix all during the browning of the flank steak) makes it quite bitter and unpleasant. Is my bitter garlic experience uncommon?
On the other hand, fire up the grill and let's make dinner. Looks like this one is worth working with.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
You might be right. I have done it this way several times and not burned the garlic but if anyone wants to play it safe add the garlic with the peppers instead. Or you could skip the garlic since it's in the marinade and instead add in some Chipotle Hot Sauce or use crushed garlic and mix it in at the end or... oh no now I am over thinking it.
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #10 of 19
I'm only an eater of this fine cuisine, daily. I do notice that when we're getting food prepared for us any seeds that are used they are put on the tortilla slillet to smoke before use.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #11 of 19

acid

Hi,

I definitely would love to try the tacos recipe. Sounds awesome. Had an idea for adding acid to the annato seeds. It came to me when a previous poster mentioned they could only find the annato seeds in asian markets. How bout adding a little yuzu juice instead?? That stuff is really potent. Any thoughts?

Cliff
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Good suggestions Cliff. Yuzu would definitely have enough acid to activate annatto seeds. I don't really want to add a lemon lime flavor without tweaking this recipe a bit but it could work well in a variation. It's a Japanese citrus but I don't really stick too heavily to "regional integrity" so much as "flavor integrity". :)

I have been wanting to try it with fish recipes lately.
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #13 of 19

Variation

Yes mredikop. I see what you are saying. A sour lemon flavor from Asia would not necessarily go with the cumin seeds. I'm thinking a nice variation on that would be to switch out the cumin seeds for some fresh rosemary. Julienne the red and yellow pepper. Add a julienned daikon in there, some soy sauce, and wrap that baby up in a spring roll!
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
That sounds pretty good. It could also be changed around into a fusion Latin Japanese sandwich wrap. Thin slice kobe beef steak instead for kitsch factor.

Pare it down to;
Papaya
Annatto
Yuzu Juice
Tequilla or Sake
Beer or Stock
Shoyu Sauce (Soy Sauce)
Habañero Pepper
Salt
Pepper

Marinate thin steaks (or use Bistek instead) for about 3-4 hours then pan sear the meat in olive oil in a hot pan.

Wrap in flatbread or flour tortilla with Daikon leaves, tomato, jasmine rice and juliened red and yellow peppers. Serve hot with Orchata to drink and some steamed Daikon slices in a shoyu, rosemary and ginger reduction over white rice.
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #15 of 19

nice

When are we going into business?
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
When you relocate to Chicago I suppose we can talk. I have ideas and I have a few chefs in mind who I think would be great Sous Chefs. Muah ha ha™
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #17 of 19

chicago

am actually heading to the windy city this weekend for New Years Eve at Charlie Trotters. Maybe I can talk him into being one of your sous chefs!
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Good question. I have people in mind out here that would be great Sous Chefs...
Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Mike

“If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.” -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
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post #19 of 19
This is to answer a question Phil asked a way back: most commercial tandoori spice mixes are colored with :eek: food coloring. But now that you mention it, maybe next time I make my own, I'll try using achiote.

Why can you find it in an Asian market? Maybe they want to sell to all kinds of customers? :look: Actually, I think McCormick markets ground achiote; but I can't recommend it: I got a sample bottle a couple of years ago, and it was, um infested. :look: :cry:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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