Summer is a time for tacos. I got off to a great start this summer, enjoying, on June 20th, a surprise treat of oyster mushrooms that popped up due to a late rain. The log is about 50 feet from my house so I whisked them to my kitchen immediately after picking for a breakfast of egg and mushroom tacos, or tacos de huevos con hongos silvestres.Â
I made a tasty salsa roja from chiles deÂ Ã¡rbol, chipotle, and guajillo. I soak the seeded, chiles in hot water for 20 minutes, then blend them in the water with salt and a couple of cloves of garlic.
For lunch the same day I stopped by the El Gallo taco truck for a couple of beef tongue tacos, or tacos de lengua. They were basically delicious and nearly perfect except for being a bit too watery and causing the tortillas to mush out.
For dinner, I made Smoked Pork Chop tacos, which were expletively noshable. The chops came from Mercado El Gallo in Medford. I pan fried them in a little olive oil until they developed a caramelized crust, then simply cubed them for placement in some fine corn tortillas. The salsa is a fresh tomatillo/avocado salsa from La Esquina Taqueria in NYC. The chef kicked it down to me for inclusion in my Tacos cookbook. I can’t divulge it and anger my publisher (not to mention break my contract) but it’s really easy and really tasty. Whenever I make it, people gobble it up.
This Chicken Neck Taco, or Taco de Pezcuezo, was grilled in a marinade of achiote paste, sour orange juice and some assorted spices. It’s not a secret. I bought all the ingredients from Mercado El Gallo. For the sake of honesty, I confess that I pulled the meat off the neck then made the taco. There was a blog post recently on Street Gourmet LA and another on Teenage Glutster featuring fried chicken necks. I believe the deep frying must make the neck vertebrae crunchy and edible. I would love to dive into some of those fried necks the Teenage Glutster posted on his blog.
The Hot Dog Taco, or Taco de Salchicha, cannot possibly be new, and I wasn’t doing it to be cute. Hot dogs are my second favorite food after tacos. This one here is really a sausage made by our local butcher shop. I think it is a beer brat. The onion, from Mercado El Gallo, is a special grilling onion called a cebollita, Â found in Mexican markets. It’s got a small white bulb and has the greens still attached. The grill up something nice. With both red and green salsa, and a strip of grilled nopal, or cactus, this taco rocked my little world.
Lengua is awesome. Have you tried beef head, or cabeza? Animal heads have quite a bit of meat on them, and it’s tender.Â
My favorite landlocked taqueria in the Rogue Valley, La Tapatia. There’s a market in front, a good butcher shop, and a restaurant in back. The tacos are fat and a reasonable $1.25 each.
This was my birthday taco lunch. They have four salsas to choose from. The green is good, cumplidora, as they say. On the pastor, I put the roja that has a bit of chipotle in it. The buche, which is pig intestine, has a straight up spicy roja to cut through the earthy, salty flavor of the entrails.
La Tapatia’s homemade pickles are tops: flavorful and spicy. They also throw in chunks of jicama, a very cool addition that I don’t often see.
That’s me eating my last birthday taco, while watching a game of futbol on the telly.Â