Taco Tuesday is a favorite around here. Well, "was."
We used to be vegetarians, and I'd use soy-based veggie grounds and your typical bagged taco seasoning to season it. A little water added with the seasoning and we had that nice, rich almost creamy texture that you get from a fast-food crunchy taco. I mean, if that's what you're in to (I also do other kinds of tacos, but in the case of hard-shells, this is what I'm going for!).
I've had some new dietary restrictions placed on me and they're hard to deal with. No soy, no onions or garlic. Fuggetabout why, that's not the point of this story. The point of this story is that I had to go back to eating real meat, and I lost the use of store-bought taco seasoning (everything has onion and garlic powder in it because, duh, they make everything taste amazing!).
And now... my tacos SUCK. It's like I don't understand how to make basic taco meat anymore. And the seasoning is bland, blandy, bland-bland. My wife gave me that desperate, manic smile after her first mouthful and said, "mmmmmm... this is almost... taco-like." High praise, that.
So my need for help is multifold:
1) What meat do I use now? I've tried chicken and turkey, but they always end up in dry, rough dense balls of meat instead of that thick, rich gravylike stuff I used to get. I don't want to go full-fat beef, and really lean beef has a similar problem. Have I forgotten how to cook meat to the proper consistency? Do I forget what it's proper consistency IS? We *were* vegetarians for a decade...
2) What do I do to punch up the flavor of my seasoning without using garlic or onion powder? My current recipe includes chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Maybe I just need... more of it? Or should I actually marinate my ground meat in it before I cook it up in the pan? I SUDDENLY DON'T KNOW HOW TO COOK ANYMORE, WAAAAH
For the record, my fish tacos still taste amazing, because I can get the fish crispy on the outside and soft in the center and the chipotle-lime sauce I make for it is plenty flavorful. I guess I could try something like al pastor (but without garlic or onion, how would THAT go?)... but I'd still like to be able to make your basic crunchy taco once in a while without my wife giving me the side-eye.
You guys, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, are my only hope.