4 Tips For Terrific Tacos

Very few dishes have a day of the week in which they are routinely associated. That just goes to prove how tacos – and thusly Taco Tuesdays – are embraced by many American families. It’s hard to argue with their devotion, either. With its mix of spicy meat and savory vegetables – not to mention a relatively easy assembling process – the taco is a great combination of simplicity and flavor. Yet there is so much more to tacos than slapping some meat and lettuce onto a tortilla. Here are just a few pointers the next time you’re preparing for Taco Tuesday:

Consider the shells
Generally, tacos are only made with soft shells; for those who insist on hard shells, you’re technically cooking a tostada. However, not every tortilla is made for a taco, and it’s important you consider the length. Six inches is standard, but filling these shells to their brim can result in structurally unsound tacos. That’s why celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez suggested using 4-inch corn tortillas. These not only keeps everything together, but you can usually eat the taco in just two bites. No matter the size, you always want to warm up the shells beforehand, heating them on a griddle over a mixture of oil and water.

There is never enough cheese
In many ways, cheese is not just a condiment for tacos – it’s almost mandatory. For one, it helps to keep the rest of the ingredients together, resulting in far fewer instances of spillage. However, that’s only if the cheese is melted through. Not only is cold cheese not as effective as a culinary glue, but the temperature can dampen the sizzle of the remaining ingredients. Because you want it to melt, always use plenty of cheese; a good rule of thumb is at least two tablespoons per person. The best cheese for tacos is mozzarella or spicy Pepper Jack, but always feel free to experiment.

Be specific with your veggies
Like cheese, vegetables are an important part of most taco recipes. As opposed to structural integrity, veggies are a great way to enhance the flavors of the meat, cheese and various spices. That means you need to try and find specific veggies to include rather than grabbing whatever is in the fridge. For one, opt for white onions over Spanish onions, as they have a much more subdued and mild taste. If you use cilantro, try and keep the stems intact, as that adds a bit of zest. Looking for something slightly left of center? Chef Sanchez uses pickled chard stems to balance the taco’s smokier flavors.

The meat always matters
In taco making, there are basically two schools of thoughts. The first involves the use of ground beef and comes with its own unique considerations. Namely, you want to avoid dry meat by cooking with beer or tequila, which has the added bonus of lending unique flavors. Additionally, ground beef is going to require plenty of seasoning and spices in order to dress it up. In the other school of thought, chefs ignore beef entirely and instead use slow-cooked beef or lamb shoulder. These are tasty options that require not only similar spice considerations but also a bit more cooking time overall.

Make it Taco Tuesday every day when you enroll in culinary academy.

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