taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences?

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Mosca
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2005/02/12 20:26:23 (permalink)

taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences?

A confession: I'm a "from scratch" chili cook, mixing my own herbs and spices; but I have no idea what to use to season tacos, burritos, or fajitas. When I make Tex-mex, I (shudder) use spice mix packets.

I know that the spice mixes are different, but how?


Tom
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11 Replies Related Threads

    Theedge
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/12 22:59:48 (permalink)
    Taco meat is easy, just hamburger & onion with some chili powder, salt and pepper and a bit of salsa or hot sauce. I'll admit that for fajitas I use McCormick seasoning out the little packets. The one thing I do add to fajitas that makes a big difference is vinegar. The trick is to cook small batches of meat at a time on a super hot surface, this way the meat fries instead of boils. Usually I have a big pan on the stove holding the peppers and onions, fry the meat in a separate pan, and at it to the veggies as it gets done.
    #2
    UncleVic
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 05:22:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Theedge

    Taco meat is easy, just hamburger & onion with some chili powder, salt and pepper and a bit of salsa or hot sauce. I'll admit that for fajitas I use McCormick seasoning out the little packets. The one thing I do add to fajitas that makes a big difference is vinegar. The trick is to cook small batches of meat at a time on a super hot surface, this way the meat fries instead of boils. Usually I have a big pan on the stove holding the peppers and onions, fry the meat in a separate pan, and at it to the veggies as it gets done.


    I also do my taco meat from scratch, I start out like Theedge does, but add cummin, garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne also..
    #3
    Green_Chile
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 05:50:35 (permalink)
    For tacos I start with 1lb ground beef cooked/drained then: cumino, mexican oregano, and garlic(powder or minced not salt). Fresh diced onion or onion powder. Then you add your chili powder(I prefer plain red or green chile powder not the mccormick stuff. Next comes the sauce...either some salsa or tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes. Add water as needed, I prefer a drier style for tacos and wetter for burritos. Salt is last as any canned additions may have made the mix plenty salty. Then you just cook it to the consistency you want. Fajitas are a whole different animal, I start with the meat quick-fry style, Theedge mentioned. Then the veggies go in and similar dry seasoning to the taco/burrito method. Fajitas IMHO need to be moist but not dripping. Fresh salsa on the side for fajitas should make for moisture and the meat should not be overcooked.

    Two Cents
    #4
    Mosca
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 11:34:57 (permalink)
    What I'm getting at is, taco meat doesn't taste like chili. The blend of spices is different, but I can't put my finger on how; less cuminy, more garlicky and oniony?

    I know that fajitas are more gently seasoned; I'd do a marinade only on the meat, but what other than lime juice would I put in the marinade?

    I just noticed, this maybe should be in the recipes section, because it's not road food but only related.


    Tom
    #5
    Adjudicator
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 12:22:41 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Mosca

    What I'm getting at is, taco meat doesn't taste like chili. The blend of spices is different, but I can't put my finger on how; less cuminy, more garlicky and oniony?

    I know that fajitas are more gently seasoned; I'd do a marinade only on the meat, but what other than lime juice would I put in the marinade?

    I just noticed, this maybe should be in the recipes section, because it's not road food but only related.


    Tom


    Tom:

    Cooking tacos vs. fajitas an entirely different story. Green_Chile has a good start for tacos. As far as fajitas go, may I suggest a good .25 inch sliced flank steak marinated to perfection (your choice) & cooked over a high flame grill (for a short, short time).

    My suggestion would be to use GC's basic array of spices; and then experiment on your own. Cumin(o) is one of the best spices I ever found, BTW, for this dish. In the meantime, saute/stir fry up a heap of onions/bell peppers in some BACON FAT. Combine with some good heated soft wraps, a decent hot salsa, and suddenly you are in fajita valhallia. Of course, don't forget the good 'maters (if in season). Some nice chipolte peppers (in sauce), adds much flavor, also.
    #6
    BT
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 23:03:08 (permalink)
    Standard Mexican spices for taco fillings, chile and so on usually include both cumin (comino in Spanish) and oregano. Mexican oregano is somewhat different than Mediterranean oregano so get yours in either a Mexican market or the Mexican food section of a regular market if you can. Those two plus pure powdered chile (NOT American chili powder which contains a lot of flavorings besides powdered chiles. Various types are available but New Mexico variety chile powders are maybe the easiest to get.

    Note--both tacos and burritos can be filled with a large variety of meats--from beef in a red sauce which is what the spices described above would produce to chicken in green and red suaces to tripe, brains, marinated and unmarinated roast pork (carnitas) etc. My personal favorite taco is made with carnitas (plain roast pork--no spices), a sprinkling of chopped jalapenos en escabeche (marinated jalapenos with carrots and onions--comes in cans available nearly anywhere that sells Mexican foods) and a little tomatillo (green) salsa (with cilantro).

    I'm not a big time fajita eater, but my understanding is that a bit of lime juice is a common flavoring of same.
    #7
    BT
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 23:10:17 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Mosca

    What I'm getting at is, taco meat doesn't taste like chili. The blend of spices is different, but I can't put my finger on how; less cuminy, more garlicky and oniony?

    I know that fajitas are more gently seasoned; I'd do a marinade only on the meat, but what other than lime juice would I put in the marinade?

    I just noticed, this maybe should be in the recipes section, because it's not road food but only related.


    Tom


    If you are trying to duplicate the taste of packaged taco meat mix, the package will list the ingredients which include things like onion powder and such. But I don't see WHY you want to be so faithful to this Americanized product which, to my taste, is "yucky" and only a desperate Mexican would touch (Yes, I've seen Mexicans wating at Taco Bell in my southern Arizona town--I can't explain it). Trust me, taco meat made from scratch with honest ingredients (such as skirt steak, actual onion and garlic, cumin, oregano, powdered chiles, maybe a bit of vinegar) is better.
    #8
    Mosca
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/02/13 23:18:02 (permalink)
    OK.

    I've always mixed my own chili powder, and I have a good source for Mexican oregano. I know that tacos can have whatever you want in them. What I'm trying to replicate is that American Taco taste that comes out of a pouch, but without all the extra glutemates and soy lethecin and such. I think that the spices and herbs are the same, but the proportions are different. I tossed fajitas in because you can buy fajita seasoning mixes, too.

    There is something to be said for those simple tacos of carnitas with onions and cilantro, absolutely. What I'm trying to replicate is something so that the Irish Bride will eat it, too (she who boils chicken).
    #9
    shmuelio
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/05/17 12:25:26 (permalink)
    I used to eat at a place in Japan called Charlies Tacos. They were really great. All over the walls and ceilings were posted names and dates with with quantities consumed. Like (joe smith ate 34 tacos on this date) well the food really was pretty good and sort of cheap. Hey guess what the ground meat was not beef, it was cat!!! Meow
    #10
    shmuelio
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/05/17 12:27:59 (permalink)
    Im looking for a nice hot sauce! Similar to siracha. It should be made with scotch bonnet or habenero peppers. I dont want the vinegary taste, so it should be more like a hot ketchup.
    #11
    windy_city_concession
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    RE: taco/burrito/fajita/chili seasonings; differences? 2005/05/24 23:57:23 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by shmuelio

    Im looking for a nice hot sauce! Similar to siracha. It should be made with scotch bonnet or habenero peppers. I dont want the vinegary taste, so it should be more like a hot ketchup.

    I swear by Melinda's, it's not vinegar based like Tabasco, has heat and good flavor.
    http://www.melindas.com/
    -Elwood
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