Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos

I love Mexican food: spicy, fresh, and exotic yet with easy to find ingredients. It can be fancy fine dining or as down to earth as the delicious tacos you can find in carts along the street.

So how can you mess up a simple tostada?! Shan and I went out this week on a rare date and when looking for somewhere to eat chose a Mexican restaurant. We weren’t expecting anything amazing, just somewhere decent to get a bite after our movie. We don’t go out to eat very often, so if we do and it’s not good I feel so cheated! Like I wasted my restaurant experience. It was terrible – cold, grey meat with no seasoning, just a sad, sad plate. Thank God for my Corona and the lovely company or it would have been a total loss.

Whenever this happens, I end up craving the food I was slighted. All week I’d find myself dreaming about enchiladas, posole, and tamales, so this weekend I decided to try out the Beer-Braised Turkey Taco recipe in this month’s Food and Wine.

This is very easy to make, and like soups and stews gives you the satisfaction of simmering something away on the stove while you tidy up the kitchen and throw together a salad. It uses turkey legs, which is cool, because I don’t think I’ve ever actually cooked non-Thanksgiving turkey. I pulled the legs out of the package feeling like a queen at the Renaissance Festival.

Here’s what you do, with my rebellions and inabilities to follow directions in parentheses: You just brown the legs, bone in, and remove from the pot, then sauté a diced onion, several garlic cloves, and an oregano sprig (I used dried…shh. I also forewent the jalapeño that’s supposed to be added at this point so that Zoeya could eat it). After the onions are softened, add a diced tomato (I used a handful of cherry tomatoes since tomatoes are not in season) with a cinnamon stick and an ancho chili. Anchos are dried poblanos, so they aren’t very spicy, but give a nice smoky flavor. Then, add a cup of water and a bottle of Mexican dark beer (they did not have Modelo Negro at the store so I settled for Dos Equis which is amber) and simmer away for about an hour. Observe my smoky caldron:

After an hour, remove the turkey from the pot and shred with two forks. This is a great answer to pulled pork for people who don’t eat pork! Much lighter too. Reduce the liquid in the pot, puree it, and throw everything back in the pot to heat through.

In the meantime while the turkey was braising, I made a roasted tomato salsa by roasting the rest of the cherry tomatoes with some garlic cloves and a red chile, then pulsing them in the food processor – I rescued the chile from the roasting pan and chopped it a little finer so nobody would get a surprise bite. This turned out very nice, but it probably could have used another chile, especially since there was no jalapeño in the turkey sauce and we needed something to spice it up. Shan turned to sriracha. He puts that stuff on everything.

Finally, I just heated up some white corn tortillas, and made a quick salad from romaine, an avocado, and a can of octopus. This is my dear friend Denise’s salad, and I love it because it’s so easy to make (you just dress it with the oil from the can of octopus, a little salt and pepper and a spritz of lime) but it still feels special.

¡Buen provecho!