You might have read my post about tacos the other day. You might have a lot of things to say when I mention that four dollars for a little taco is unreasonable.”Mr. Chartlton is a cheap asshole” or “Mr. Charlton doesn’t respect good cuisine” or “Why the hell is Mr. Charlton making such a big deal about a fucking taco?”
Let’s talk about tacos, shall we? Tacos originally are from Mexico and predate the arrival of Europeans. The local population was stuffing their faces with tacos before the Spanish popped over. They come in a variety of styles, and there hasn’t been a taco I haven’t liked. I’ll admit, the tacos I had last week, although small, were pretty tasty. So what the hell is my problem?
Tacos are really, really easy to make. I’m not talking about the boxed bullshit that comes from the supermarket, where they have a bunch of nasty old hard taco shells with a salty powder you throw in with some ground beef. I’m talking about real homemade tacos, with homemade tortillas and homemade Pico de Gallo and the works. The whole thing is such a straight forward process I’m going to teach you folks how to make it. Can you put a roast into a pot? Can you make pancakes? Can you cut up vegetables and put them into a bowl? Then you have got tasty tacos under your belt already
Tacos de Lengua – Beef Tongue Tacos
The Tongue – Creepy Looking Deliciousness
We’re going to make this tasty
Thigns you’ll need:
- Beef Tongue (go to a butcher and grab one)
- Bay leaves (About 6-7 of ’em)
- Peppercorns (Maybe a teaspoon)
- One Onion, cut into large chunks
- Five Garlic cloves, smashed
- Kosher Salt (or regular salt, I mean, fuck it, it’s not that important the salt’s kosher)
Alright, throw all of this shit into a pot or a slow cooker and cover with water, making sure the tongue is submerged. If it’s in a pot, put in the over and set at 225° F. Leave it in for 6 to 8 hours. You have a slow cooker? Throw it in the slow cooker and forget about it for 8 hours or however long one of those things take. In the mean time, while this tastiness is cooking, you can get started on the other stuff. But the other stuff is really quick and easy to make, so you might want to queue up a movie or go run some errands or have a nap.
All cooked up real good
Once it’s done, take it out of the pot or slow cooker. You see all that liquid left over? Keep it! Or don’t. It’s basically soup. Anyways, there’s a membrane on the outside of the tongue. Cut it down the middle, peel it off and throw it away. It’s tough and nasty, and you’re going to want to get at the tasty stuff inside.
The tongue, with the membrane off.
Cut it up into chunks and set aside. We’ll come back to it later.
Pico de Gallo – Basically Fresh Salsa
Things you’ll need:
- Tomatoes (Five medium sized ones)
- Half an Onion
- Maybe half a Jalapeno
- Garlic cloves
- Lime Juice
You noticed how I didn’t put down an amount for a lot of that stuff? Because it’s up to you. You like garlic? Throw a bunch of it in there. You like heat? Throw in more Jalapeno. I’m leaving this up to you. So people like a bunch of lime juice in there, so they add a bunch. I think cilantro is overrated, but hey, that’s me.
Cut all of that into small pieces and put into a bowl. Oh my God, look at you! You just made Pico de Gallo like a champ!
You cut up the vegetables!
Tortillas – Small Salty Mexican Pancakes
Things you’ll need:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of corn flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 tablespoons of oil (anything works, but lard is best. I used bacon fat)
- 1 cup of water
Mix all the dry stuff in a bowl. Then add the wet stuff. mixed with anything, like a spoon or a stand mixer or your hands. If it’s sticky, add some more flour. If it’s not smooth and holding together, add some water. You’ll notice I’m using both corn and wheat flour. It’s because I want the best of both worlds. And I get what I want (in regards to flour).
Dry stuff, then wet stuff
Once you have a smooth ball of dough, cover the bowl and let it sit for half an hour or more. Then roll that bad boy out, cut out circles (I used a small bowl) and throw on a hot pan, I had my electric range set at medium. You don’t need any oil or butter or anything, there’s oil in the dough and that will be enough. Once it starts bubbling, flip it over and cook the other side.
Cooking it up!
Boom! You have just successfully made homemade tortillas. They will be the best tortillas you’ve ever had, I promise.
Plate of tortillas!
The Finish Line – Putting it all together.
We’re going to fry up that meat. Yes, we’re taking that sweet tasty meat we cooked for 8 hours and we’re cooking it again. Heat up a skillet, on my electric range I had it at a 6 out of 10 for heat. Put some of that meat in the pan and fry it up. You save any of that liquid soup you made earlier? You’re going to use a little bit of that to deglaze the pan, I used a couple of tablespoons of the leftover liquid. Once all the liquid has evaporated, get that meat to the table. Set out a spread and there you are; homemade tacos.
Fry up that meat
Set up a spread!
These tacos are bigger than the ones I had last week. No joke.
The Final Word
Were they any good? You bet. Was it worth the hassle of getting a beef tongue? Not really. If you got a cheap roast instead you would be just as well off. There’s this weird hipster idea that an establishment has to have beef tongue tacos in order to be a legitimate taqueria. It used to be a really cheap cut of meat, but the weird body parts of animals that used to get tossed are becoming somewhat gentrified.
The amount of actual cooking time is less than an hour. You are going to spend a lot of it sitting around. If you want to cheat and grab some store bought tortillas and salsa, I ain’t going to judge. The point I’m trying to make is tacos are so stupidly simple that selling them is almost a crime.
I think I made my point. Tacos are easy. If you folks like this I’ll put up other recipes or write a cookbook or some shit. Let me know.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. Yes, my beef tongue tacos are better than the ones you get at Native Tongues, but only because the tortillas are crazy fresh.