China. Fine china. Bone china. You know, the fancy stuff you register for when you get hitched, or those dishes that your grandma gave your mom that your mom gave you (or maybe she just stored them away in the attic) that you’re supposed to give to your daughter. Sure, those dishes are pretty, and I’m sure using them impresses people during those special dinners.
But they aren’t for me.
And while I enjoy dining out, I definitely don’t fit the mold of the typical high-end dining guest. And I could care less about the way my silverware is placed on the table, or if they remove my plate the correct way, and it bothers me just a tad when they fold my napkin while I’m in the restroom.
If truth be told, on most days I’d prefer leaving the utensils in the drawer and digging in with my hands. Forks and knives just get in the way sometimes, don’t you think?
Which is part of the reason, I think, that tacos are one of my very favorites. And sure, Flash Taco usually hits the spot, particularly when you’re approximately three sheets to the wind, but these days it’s all about the braise. People tend to braise beef or pork, but in this case I was intrigued by the braising of turkey.
Braising turkey, and the fact that said turkey would become shredded like that oh-so-mouth-watering barbeque, and then, then, encased in a corn tortilla. After being braised in beer, of course.
It’s a taco concoction you won’t find at Flash Taco, or any other taco joint, for that matter. It’s a taco that is a lovely consideration for Thanksgiving leftovers, when the time comes, but in March it’s a welcome change from all the soups and all the beefs and if you can believe it, from the pork.
And better yet, it’s a taco just like any other taco, that you eat with your hands, and even when the pieces fall out of the sides of the tortilla, you pick them up, lick your fingers, and keep on goin’.
Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos with Roasted Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Food & Wine, March 2010; serves 4
3-4 plum tomatoes
2-3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 serrano chile
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 c cilantro (or more, to taste)
salt, to taste
lime juice, to taste
2 T evoo
Two 1-lb bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed
salt and pepper
4 lg garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 med onion, small dice
1 t dried Mexican oregano
1 lg jalapeno, sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
1 med plum tomato, coarsely chopped
1 ancho or guajillo chile, seeded and torn into pieces
1 cinnamon stick
1 12-oz bottle of dark Mexican beer (Modelo Negro)
1 c water
8 corn tortillas
2 T toasted black or white sesame seeds and cilantro, for garnish
heat 1 T in large dutch oven. season turkey with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 8 minutes. transfer to plate. add remaining 1 T of oil to dutch oven along with garlic, oregano, onion, and jalapeno and cook over moderate heat until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. add tomato, chile, and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until tomato releases juices.
preheat oven to 350 F. place salsa ingredients (tomatoes, serrano, and garlic) on baking sheet and roast until tender (20-30 minutes). keep oven on 350 F.
meanwhile, return turkey to pot and add beer and water; bring to boil. cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. transfer turkey to plate and let cool. discard cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes.
puree roasted salsa ingredients with remaining salsa ingredients and season to taste.
shred turkey meat with two forks. wrap tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through. transfer sauce to food processor and puree. return to pot and stir in shredded turkey. season with salt and pepper. spoon turkey over warm tortillas and top with cilantro, sesame seeds, and salsa.