I don’t know about you, but there are days at my house where dinner is a matter of what’s thawed and what can I make of it in a hurry? You know these days when there are soccer games and school projects and life all happening in a blur. One of my favorite go tos on these days is tacos in various shapes and sizes.
Tacos are quick to make, and you can use just about any ground meat or beans as a base and you’re in business. Now, I learned a long time ago that you could make the creation of tacos even -faster- by using a taco seasoning mix. Just dump it into a pan of browned meat and onions, add a few beans and you were in business. The problem I had was that most of these mixes were really heavy on the salt, and sometimes they had an off flavor, or not enough of a flavor I liked. So what’s a girl to do?
Well, I’ll tell you. We came up with our own mixes, and started adding either Ultra Gel or Thick Gel. Why add the starch, you ask? There are two really good reasons for this. Reason the first, if you have a starch in the mix and add a little additional water or broth to your taco meat you get juicier meat. The starch thickens that additional liquid around the meat and catches all the lovely seasonings in it and… it’s so very very yummy. Reason the second is that the starch helps in keeping the spices from clump and helps the dispurse evenly when you pour them into your taco meat, soup, etc. They’re very clever kitchen helpers!
So here’s my mix. And unlike the store one if you try this mix and find you want a little more cumin, or a bit less chili powder or want to add hot peppers you have the power! I tend to make these mixes in snack bags or small candy bags 12 at a time. Why 12? Because I set out a muffin tray and put an open bag in each hole. Then, I go around and add each ingredient to each bag. When I’m finished pop a label on it and I’ve got 12 taco seasoning mixes all ready for use or ready to add to a gift for a friend. It’s a win all the way around.
The mix had the strongest flavor for about 2-3 months. After that it’s still good for another 3-4 months but the quality starts to suffer and the combination of flavors isn’t as strong.
Taco Seasoning Mix with Ultra Gel
1 Tablespoon chili powder (mild or hot, you choose)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I like a fine salt for this, versus a kosher or coarse salt)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika (I like a smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Omit this for a mild batch)
2 Tablespoons Thick Gel or 3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel
Combine all ingredients in a small plastic bag. Seal, label, date and store in tightly covered container.
So there’s your mix. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we’ll talk about some ways to use this mix that take ordinary tacos and make them fabulous!