19 November 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Homemade Taco Seasoning

I have kids, so it's only natural that tacos are a regular feature in our monthly menus. Tacos are fast, easy, fairly nutritious and most importantly customizable, a critical feature in our household of frequently finicky eaters.

What's always concerned me about using packaged taco seasoning, though, is the ridiculous level of sodium in those tasty little packets. My mum - chief taco aficionado - has high blood pressure, and her sodium intake is a critical factor in our decision-making when it comes to meals. Not to mention, my sporty kids require a proper balance of sodium in their systems in order to maintain their athletic performances, so salt is a real issue for us.

The other day it occurred to me that there must be a recipe out there for homemade taco seasoning, right? Surely 112 million Mexicans aren't falling back on Old El Paso like we are, right?

Of course they're not.

So I googled it, and found that a fantastic homemade taco seasoning recipe was literally just a click away. Not that I think 112 million Mexicans are googling 'taco seasoning' at allrecipes.com, either, but whatever.

This seasoning makes a deep, rich-tasting, spicy meat mixture that is a thousand times more flavourful and healthful than the store-bought variety. Even the Girl - she of the prickly palate - has overcome her aversion to "something new" and embraced the new flavours. If you have a spare a three minutes and want to enjoy the best homemade taco that'll ever walk out of your kitchen, I suggest whipping up a batch.

Right now. Go do it. Seriously.

Preparation: 3 minutes | Cooking Time: N/A | Serves: 1 lb. taco meat

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
Cooking Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container in fridge or freezer.

A single serving of seasoning works for one package (approximately one pound) of ground beef.

One tip: we have to moderate the spice level in our family for someone (not naming names.... the Girl) who prefers mild over spicy. So when I double or triple the recipe, as I frequently do so we have enough beef mixture for leftovers, I generally increase the red pepper flakes and ground pepper by just half again as much. Two or three teaspoons of black pepper would be overpowering, but 1.5 teaspoons still adds kick without drowning out the other flavours. Ditto the red pepper.

It's up to you, of course. I'm just saying.

Finally, the seasoning itself can be refrigerated or frozen and will keep well for up to two months. OR, you can make a big ole batch of meat and freeze that instead. It's great for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.

OH! And one more cooking tip: I add a cup of water to the beef and seasoning mixture, so that the flavours boil down and blend a bit easier. Once the beef is done cooking, I add a few tablespoons of corn starch and water mixed, to thicken up the juices in a tasty sauce. The kids - and chief taco aficionado, Mum - claim it's what sets my tacos apart from everyone else's so... sauce it up! Go for it.