Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vegetable, Chicken and Fish Taco Trio

I alluded to this in my last post, but one of the major summer events was my best friend's wedding- and weddings warrant a bachelorette party! In planning the party, I decided it would be cheapest for all parties included to make the dinner and have people chip in for groceries rather than going out to dinner... this was the case, though I definitely forgot to factor in how long it takes for charcoal to heat up. An inside grill or gas grill would certainly help speed this process along, and avoid your neighbors gawking at you for barbecuing by flashlight! All in all, the dinner was a big success and the tacos were well liked, including the chicken variety that was a stretch for this vegetarian.
Vegetable tacos 
This is a great summer recipe, as most of the veggies can be found in abundance at the local farmer's market, but peppers and onions are easy enough any time of the year. The fish I used was Halibut, which I would actually recommend ammending. I love fish tacos but the Halibut flavor was a little too strong and it wasn't as flaky of a texture as I prefer. Past attempts at this recipe have shown me that catfish is a solid choice, which is great because it's fairly easy to find (or catch) and reasonably priced. All three taco versions can be grilled the night before and reheated when it's time to impress your guests.

A quick note about quantities and how much to buy... it depends entirely on how much you plan on eating. I could eat two peppers worth of veggie tacos on my own in one sitting, so make an educated depending on your group and how much additional food you have. The same unfortunately goes for the fish and chicken. Being a vegetarian, I WAY overestimated on chicken (I made 10 pounds for 6 carnivores!), and sent home enough leftovers to cover my football playing "little" brother for several meals. I made about 3.5-4 pounds of Halibut, which was more than enough for a party plus a week of leftovers for me.

Vegetable Tacos

Bell peppers of various colors
Yellow or White Onion
Olive Oil
Lemon and Lime Juice
Salt, pepper and cilantro to flavor

1. Wash and chop the peppers into quarters, approximately.
2. Peel and chop the onion into quarters.
3. Place the vegetables in a large ziplock bag or container with a tight lid.
4. Cover the vegetables with enough oil to coat them.
5. Season with lemon and lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro.
6. Seal tightly and shake the vegetables to evenly coat and distribute flavors.
7. Let the veggies marinate as long as possible, 6-8 hours is best
*I didn't have that much time- mine marinated for ~45 minutes, which didn't give them as much flavor but they were still good.
8. Grill the veggies, careful to watch for flares, until tender. If the peppers blacken between checks, which can easily happen, just pull them off and remove the blackened skin before serving.
9. Slice into long strips and serve!

Fish Tacos

Fish, of your choice
Lemon and lime juice
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper

1.Completely thaw the fish, place them in a shallow baking dish and cover in a marinade of lemon and lime juice and olive oil.
2. Sprinkle salt and crushed red pepper over the top.
3. Cover and marinate for several hours, or as long as possible, before grilling.
4. Spray your fish grill pan with olive oil or non-stick spray before putting the fish on!
5. Grill the fish, skin side down, until it flakes apart with a fork. The time will depend on what type of fish you're using, so check after 10-15 minutes -- thinner pieces will be done or close to it.
6. Remove the fish from the grill. Remove the skin and any bones.
7. Flake the fish apart using a fork and serve!

Tequila-lime Chicken Tacos

Boneless Chicken breasts
Lime Juice
Olive Oil
Banana Peppers, thinly sliced
Crushed Red Pepper
Tequila, if you please*

1. Completely defrost the chicken
2. In a 2" deep pan, put down a single layer of chicken
3. Whisk together the olive oil, crushed red pepper, lime juice and tequila.
4. Pour the liquid mixture over the chicken, making sure all pieces are equally exposed/soaking in the marinade. Sprinkle banana pepper slices over entire pan.
5. Wrap the pan tightly and marinade the chicken overnight.
6. Grill the chicken until there is no longer any pink in the middle.
7. Chop into taco-sized cubes and enjoy. This also reheats quite well in a crockpot with a little water.

*I only used 1/4 cup for the my entire marinade, fearing that too much would leave me with tacos smelling like a "Girls with Low Self-Esteem: Spring Breakout" video, but nobody could taste it at all. So, throw in more than you'd initially expect if you want the flavor -- if you're not a tequila person, the olive oil and lime juice make a delicious marinade on their own.

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