I was introduced to Tacos—and Taco Seasoning Mix—by my hubby, Sam. I don’t know if things have changed in the almost twenty (gasp!) years since I left South Africa, but back then there weren’t any Mexican restaurants, let alone seasoning mixes in the grocery stores.
In fact, when my dad was here visiting last week, we took him to our favorite Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, Sol Y Luna, and he trying to persuade the waitress to get the owner to open one in Johannesburg. (I’m not sure if it’s because the food was so delicious, or because she looked just like—and was as bubbly and vivacious as—Sophia Vergara.)
So, for my friends around the world—here’s an easy way to recreate those delicious Mexican flavors, and it’s healthy to boot!
I used to make a version of this using ground beef or turkey and Taco Bell or McCormick’s Taco seasoning (which you can of course use if you’re strapped for time.)
Then I found a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes for Ground Beef Tacos, using real ingredients. I lightened it up with turkey and changed up a few other things, making this version fresher, more delicious, and much healthier than those sodium-loaded packages.
Orna’s Taco Turkey
For husband/family, serve with:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Scrub two large russet potatoes. (Or more if required.) Dry with a paper towel.
Rub all over with olive oil, lightly.
Sprinkle all over with Lawry’s Seasoned salt.
Bake directly on the middle shelf for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Put a baking sheet or foil, or even better an oven protector pad on the shelf below. I just got one and I LOVE it! (Chef’s Planet Non-stick oven liner. They make one for the microwave too.)
Avocado, finely chopped
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Tomato, seeded and finely chopped (cut across the equator and remove seeds before chopping)
Shredded Mexican Cheese, regular or light
Adjust amounts as required.
I prefer to just eat it over a green salad dressed with olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar, salt and pepper, for a high-protein meal.
Or sometimes I make a sweet potato or yam for myself; just prick with a fork—no need to oil or season; bake alongside the potatoes; take it out after about 45 minutes.
Inspired by Ground Beef Tacos in Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes, Dawn Yanagihara (November 2012)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or more if you're a garlic lover)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 lb lean ground turkey (recommended: Jennie-O 93% lean with natural flavoring)
- 1/2 cup salsa (recommended: Trader Joe's chunky salsa)
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar (or you could use rice vinegar or even balsamic vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar (I used light, but I don't think it would make a difference)
- Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat; add garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add ground turkey and cook, breaking meat up with a wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom, until turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. (You might need to turn up the heat to medium-high, especially if there is too much liquid in the pan.)
- Add salsa, broth, vinegar, and sugar; bring to simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking up meat so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more brown sugar if needed to balance flavors.