Taco Night is a Fiesta

By: Anne Hynes

Everyone loves tacos. A table laden with condiments and toppings, where everyone can make their own, can turn an everyday meal into a party.Getting everyone involved makes it fun, younger children can grate cheese or set the table and older kids or teens can practice using a knife and learn how to season.  If you don’t have time to prepare your own, good quality salsa and guacamole can be purchased in most food shops (Mad Mexican makes great ones).  I bring out the lazy Susan, so that access is easy and there is more time for eating!

Tacos can be filled with any number of ingredients which makes them a staple in my house.Sometimes we use up leftover roast meats, like chicken or pork shoulder but often we will make a lightly spiced ground beef and pork mixture with beans. At Sanagan’s we always have fresh ground beef and pork as well as ground chicken or turkey. We sell a number of ready to use spice mixes and Mados, a hot sauce that pairs very well with sour cream, for those who like it spicy.

Tacos are a healthy and inexpensive meal that is sure to satisfy every diet as they can be vegetarian and even gluten-free.  In Kensington Market there are a number of places to buy taco shells but my favourite are Alba Lisa’s corn tortillas. These tortillas are cooked quickly in a hot pan for about 20 seconds and then kept warm in a clean tea towel. They are soft and delicious – definitely a way to elevate taco night!

If there are leftovers you can do what I do and have scrambled eggs or omelets the next night. That makes two easy and tasty dinners!

Ground Beef and Pork Taco Filling

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup of cooked beans (black or red kidney beans work well)
1 onion, small dice
2 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
½ cup of chicken stock
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
Juice of ½ a lime
1 tablespoon cilantro, chiffonade (optional)

Method:

– In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, season and brown meat in batches over medium-high heat. Drain fat.

– In the same pan cook onion until translucent, add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add beans and chili powder, let mixture cook a few minutes then add tomato. Return meat to the pan and mix thoroughly.

– Add stock, bring to a boil and then cook in a 350˚ oven until stock has cooked down, approximately 25 minutes.

– Finish with the lime juice and cilantro. Adjust seasoning as needed.

– Serve with warm tortillas, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, lettuce and sour cream and lots of paper napkins.

Smoked Pork Chop Recipe

Opening a new store is both exhilarating and exhausting. Between sorting out the contractors, the artists (yes, artists are involved), the bankers, and the staff (amongst others), I barely have time to remember how to put my underwear on (I believe it’s one leg at a time, but sometimes I try to get athletic). However, no matter what kind of day I had, I find it super important to sit down and have dinner with my family every night. Our son is two now, and I think that creating this custom of sharing food together every night will only positively affect him as he grows. There’s only one problem with this plan. Little man needs to eat at six pm.

Before I had a kid, I would routinely eat with my wife at eight at the earliest.  Now that we eat at the ungodly hour of six, I have had to reset my body clock. It’s totally messed up. If I eat a late lunch I’m screwed. If I happen to stay awake until midnight watching Big Trouble in Little China, I’m starving by the time the batshit crazy battle happens during the wedding ceremony (you should really go and watch that movie. It’s hilarious). A six o’clock dinnertime means that friends don’t come over for dinner anymore. I mean, they’ll come over and drink wine while I’m feeding Des, but no sane non-parent wants to eat pasta at six pm.

The other issue with an early dinnertime means I don’t have a lot of time to get dinner cooking. The easiest thing I’ve made recently is a quick meat sauce, but even that took an hour and a bit. Not logical if you work a nine to fiver. So, I need something that is fast and easy. Luckily, I have just the thing in the shop. Smoked Pork Chops. Also known as Kassler Chops, these chops are cut from the loin, and smoked in the same way bacon is. They are much leaner than bacon though, so you won’t feel guilty about wolfing down one of these. And they are great in any season. All you really have to do is fry them for about four minutes per side on a medium heat, and they can be served with anything. Bonus – they’re already seasoned with the cure used before smoking them. Here’s an easy recipe for the chops with a quick mustard sauce that all kids, both young and old, will definitely love.

Smoked Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

4             smoked pork chops
1 tbsp    vegetable oil
1 tbsp    small red onion, finely diced
1tbsp     red wine vinegar
2 tbsp    Dijon mustard
1 tbsp    brown sugar
2 tbsp    apple juice

Method:

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the chops and fry for about four to five minutes per side, or until golden brown on each side and hot all the way through.

While the chops are cooking, make the sauce. In a small sauce pot, simmer the onions and the vinegar over medium heat for about two minutes, or enough just to soften the onion. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a simmer and whisk until the sugar is melted. Serve immediately with the chops.

These chops would go great with a cabbage slaw or potato salad, or really any kind of nice warm vegetable. Enjoy!