Every Saturday, I cook taco meat. It’s quick, can be used for a couple of meals, and is one thing that the boy will eat regularly.
Chicken Taco Meat
1 Quart Crockpot
I’m rather fond of my little crockpot with a removable porcelain crock.
1 lb chicken, cubed (frozen is fine)
3/8 cup Taco seasonings (add more or less according to taste)
1/2 cup water
Place taco seasoning and water into crockpot. Mix well. Add chicken (don’t worry about covering with sauce) and cover with lid. Turn the crockpot to high and let cook for 3-4 hours (cook on low for 5-6).
Your time will vary depending on whether or not you use fresh or frozen chicken, or what type of chicken meat you use: fresh chicken/chicken tenderloins take less time to cook than frozen chicken/chicken breasts.
The meat is done when you can easily crush a cube of chicken against the side of the crock. At this point, turn off the crockpot and use a fork or two to shred the chicken. Stir the mixture; the chicken should absorb most of the liquid left leaving a thick sauce.
From here, you can use the taco meat in tacos or nachos or whatever else you can dream of. We usually do tacos.
Chicken Taco Meat (see recipe above)
Flour Tortillas, burrito style
Mexican-Style cheese, shredded (or cheese of choice; pogle prefers Colby Jack)
Place tortilla on a microwave safe plate. Add cheese.
Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften tortilla and melt the cheese. You can skip this test the day you make the taco meat since the meat will melt the cheese, although the tortilla will be somewhat stiff. This step is primarily for reheating the taco meat when you make tacos the next day or two (there’s enough meat for 8 or so tacos).
Add lettuce, if desired.
Fold and eat.
One of the reasons why this recipe is so easy to do weekly is that we always have the primary ingredients on hand thanks to our freezer. The chicken, tortillas, and cheese all freeze superbly.
We buy chicken on sale for around $2/lb and divide it with 1 lb per sandwich bag (the no zip ones). I then put these into a larger 1 gallon size ziplock bag and place in the freezer. This protects the meat from freezer burn and allows for easy access to meal-sized portions. I always chop my chicken before freezing because we never cook anything that requires whole chicken pieces.
I freeze our tortillas in their original packaging. We buy our tortillas at the local Sam’s Club for $3.50/2-pack; the two packs come bundled in a nice thick plastic baggie that protects the contents from freezer burn. You can also save the outside bag for freezer other items in the future (just seal with a twist tie or tab).
Cheese can be frozen in several ways. For large purchases of shredded cheese, it’s easiest to use the same method as the chicken: divide into meal-size portions (I go with 1 cup) in sandwich bags, and place those bags into larger 1 gallon ziplock bags. I’ve used this method successfully with cheddar, mozzarella, and colby jack. If you purchase the small 2 cup or so bags of shredded cheese, I think you can simply throw those into the freezer as is (this is an ongoing experiment).
For blocks of cheese, freeze in original packaging or using the bag-in-bag method if you are breaking down a larger block into smaller portions.
To thaw, place item in the fridge according to this schedule:
chicken – 2 days before needed
tortillas – 1 day before needed
shredded cheese – several hours before needed; I will thaw shredded cheese on the counter if I’m going to bake the cheese within 2 hours
block cheese – 2 days before needed
Buying in bulk
I purchase my taco seasoning in 1.4 lb containers at Sam’s Club. Less packaging is better for the environment (as opposed to those itty bitty McCormick packages) and I was able to tweak the recipe to achieve a flavor that was acceptable to both myself and Sir Picky Eater.
I buy most of my spices in bulk at Sam’s Club, actually, and then refill the smaller containers I had purchased previously at my local grocery store. This allows us to keep a large number of spices on hand in the kitchen, and reserves for our commonly used spices in the pantry (aka tall shelf in the laundry room; I keep the extra spices in a lidless box on the bottom shelf, out of the light).
So I hope this helps a few of you to try something new. I should warn you that, once you’ve had these chicken tacos, you’ll find it hard to go back to other style of tacos ever again.