Do you want to cut your beef consumption and save money? Here’s a tip; use ground turkey to make tacos, instead of ground beef. Frozen ground turkey is about half the cost of ground beef, and it delivers solid nutrition, as well. If you want to cut the cost still more, add a can or two of organic drained black or pinto beans during the last five minutes of cooking. This gives you several more servings of meat filling, along with fiber.
By using different shell types and condiments, you can personalize your taco selection to suit various tastes. This allows you to satisfy the different appetites of your family and friends with one basic meal. Here are an assortment of tacos that you can make using this basic turkey taco meat recipe. I let each person fill their own shells and dress their tacos in their unique style.
Pass these taco fillings around the table or put them onto a buffet table. The meat may be prepared a day ahead of time and kept in a microwaveable bowl with a lid. Re-heat it just before serving. A bowl with a lid helps it stay warm at the table. Suggested condiments for the different tacos include shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, alfalfa sprouts (for folks who are bothered by lettuce), chopped sweet onion (Vidalia or Texas Sweet), chopped tomatoes, salsa (your favorite or Jack’s Special Salsa from the Garden Fresh Gourmet), sour cream or Fage Greek yogurt (a lower fat option), pickled jalapeno peppers, and shredded cheese.
Crispy Corn Tacos--Either fry corn tortillas according to the package directions, or use a pre-made crispy corn tortilla. I like LaTiara brand. They are a lot easier to use than frying my own. After crisping the shells in the oven according to the package directions, put them on a platter. Serve them with shredded lettuce or sprouts, tomato, salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, and cheese.
Tacos Auténticos--Heat corn tortillas in an ungreased heavy skillet until they are warm and pliable. Put the warm corn tortillas on a paper towel (I use Viva) that is inside of a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the corn tortillas in the towel to keep them warm and pliable. Alternatively, use a tortilla warmer. (I use the Norpro Tortilla Pancake Keeper.) To the warmed corn tortillas, add meat, chopped cilantro, and chopped onions. That’s it!
Soft Tacos-- Heat flour tortillas in an ungreased heavy skillet until they are warm and pliable. Place the warm flour tortillas into a Norpro Tortilla Pancake Keeper or wrap them up in on a paper towel (I use Viva) that is inside of a clean kitchen towel. Fill the flour tortilla up with meat and condiments. Flour tortillas can be wrapped up with a full complement of meat and extras! If you don’t want the carbs from a flour tortilla, use a low-carb and high fiber tortilla. La Tortilla Factory makes a tortilla that has only three net grams of carbohydrate and 50 calories per small tortilla. A large one has 6 net grams of carbohydrate and 80 calories.
Turkey Taco Meat Recipe
2 pounds frozen ground turkey-thawed (You may use fresh ground turkey, but it is more expensive.)
2 tablespoons of olive oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon of chili powder (I use William’s or McCormick)
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1-5 ounce can of V-8 or tomato juice (optional)
3 cups hot water
1 envelope of onion soup mix
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, add one tablespoon of the oil and heat it over medium heat. Don’t let it get to the point where it is smoking. Turn the heat to high. Pull chunks off of the turkey roll and drop them a few at a time into the oil. This keeps the pan from cooling, and the turkey will actually brown. (I used a 12-inch skillet, so that I would have plenty of surface area to cook on.) Wait until the chunks have browned, then turn them over. Keep turning them in the oil until they have browned. This takes about 8-10 minutes for the first pound. I added one pound of meat, browned them and pushed them to one side of the skillet. Then I drizzled the second tablespoon of oil onto my skillet’s cooking surface and added the other pound of meat. When all of the meat has browned, use your spatula to start breaking the chunks up into very small pieces. Browning the meat takes about 15 minutes. After the first pound has browned, and you are cooking the second pound, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, so that you won’t have a burned crust on the pan.
Also, remember, until the meat is totally cooked, don’t taste! Raw meat contains bacteria, and ground raw meat is especially dangerous to eat unless it is fully cooked.
Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder and stir the spices into the meat for about 30 seconds. This gives the spices a chance to release their flavors. Add the V-8 or tomato juice, if desired, and stir it into the meat mixture. Then, add the one cup of the hot water and bring the meat to a boil over high heat while scraping the bottom of the skillet. Add the other two cups of water and the onion soup and stir it in. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the meat, uncovered. Stir the meat occasionally, and work on breaking the chunks up with your spatula, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. It took about 30 minutes for this step. This gives an incredibly tender and flavorful taco meat that will melt in your mouth. If you want to add cans of drained beans, do it in the last five minutes of cooking.
You can easily size this recipe up, so that you can feed a crowd. The Turkey Taco Recipes will work well for family dinners, an office taco party, or a youth group meal. Until I told colleagues at a luncheon that the meat was turkey, they had no idea! The coloring from the onion soup and the spices takes away the pale coloring that screams, “I am made from turkey burger!” Enjoy the taste and the knowledge that you are stretching your food budget with this frugal, yet tasty, meat offering.
When I mention products by brand name, these are the ones that I use. I have not received free products from the manufacturers, nor have I been paid to mention the products by name.
If you want an easy way to keep your tortillas warm, try this!