Taste Canada: Taco night!

As part of the Domestic Goddess’s “Taste Canada” project — for which I have officially missed the posting deadline but I’ll do it anyway — I offer this glimpse of a not very Canadian meal, which perhaps is what makes it so Canadian.

What better way to deal with another hot and humid day than to pretend we’re in Mexico and make tacos for dinner? But not just any tacos — soft corn tortilla tacos with grilled chicken and home-made roasted tomato and jalapeno salsa, with roasted veggies and chips & guacamole on the side.

you should have seen it 10 minutes later!

Unfortunately, this is the only picture — too hungry to
take photos once the cooking started…

From start to finish it took about 90 minutes. Here’s how it went:

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed
  • juice of one lime
  • two teaspoons of chopped cilantro
  • several drops of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
  • salt

Pit and peel the avocados. Smush them together with the rest of the ingredients. You can use a fork, a potato masher, or a food processor.

Grilled Vegetables

  • 2 yellow zucchinis, cut into inch-thick discs
  • 2 sweet red peppers, quartered, with seeds and membranes removed
  • 2 whole portabella mushrooms
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the veggies on a medium-hot grill. The mushrooms should be fuzzy side down for a couple of minutes, then flipped onto their backs for the remaining time. The peppers should start skin-sides up for a couple of minutes, then turned and finished with the skins down. Cook until the skins start to blister and blacken. If some blacken completely, you should remove the skins after they cool a bit.

When the veggies are done and removed from the grill, cut the mushrooms into three or four thick slices each, cut each pepper quarter in half, and put everything into a big bowl. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the veggies. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss, and let cool to room temperature.

Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa

  • 2 plump red tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into three or four discs
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Plop everything onto the grill over medium heat, with the garlic at the coolest part of the grill if possible. I suggest you use a screen so that small pieces won’t fall into the fire.

Remove the onions when they have nice grill marks on them. Remove the jalapenos when they are starting to blister on all sides. Remove the garlic when the skin is browned or the flesh seems soft. Keep the tomatoes on the fire, turning (carefully) once or twice, until the skins are blistered and blackened in spots, and the flesh is soft and seems cooked. (When you remove the tomatoes, put them in a separate bowl.)

Let everything cool for a few minutes.

Cut the tops off the jalapenos and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the white membrane (leave a bit if you want the salsa to be hot.) Chop the remaining flesh and blistered skins and put in a bowl.

Chop up the grilled onions and add to the bowl with the jalapenos.

Remove the skins from the garlic and smush the flesh (or chop if it’s still firm). Add to the bowl.

Pull the skins off of the tomatoes. With a slotted spoon, stab at them a bit to break them up, then lift the chunks out of the bowl, letting the watery juices drain off. Transfer the chunks to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Toss it all together with some salt and pepper, breaking up the big chunks of tomato.

Grilled Chicken

This was easy — with all that other tasty stuff the chicken is best if done plain and simple. In this case I used two breasts, skin on and bone-in, salted and peppered and put on the grill until done. Let it cool for a few minutes, then cut and shred it for the tacos.

And now… the tacos

Warm some corn tortillas over the grill for a few minutes. Wrap in a napkin to keep warm.

For each taco, lay two tortillas on a plate on top of each other, but with a bit of an offset so it’s more like an oval than a circle. Assemble the tacos with chicken, salsa, and a bit of grated cheese if desired. Don’t over-stuff them. You can even add some guacamole if you like (although I prefer that on the side with tortilla chips). Fold over and serve with grilled veggies on the side, and a nice cold beer.

(These quantities made five big tacos with enough leftover for two more tomorrow, for lunch. That makes seven, but it could easily have been eight, which is good for four people.)

Insect

Do any of you know what kind of insect this is? Which is to say… do I have an infestation of some kind of killer post-Elvis nuclear meltdown outerspace destructronic hybrid Armageddon bug in the woodpile, or is it just some silly harmless thing?

zap!