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Taco Night

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Homemade corn tortillas and three tasty taco fillings (plus all the fixings) make a delicious dinner and an even better party

This menu serves 12 people, with leftover brisket filling. For a simple dessert, toss fresh mango and strawberries with lime juice, sea salt, and a little pure chile powder. The dessert ingredients are already incorporated into the shopping list.

Homemade tacos are the perfect food for an interactive, DIY-style party, and this menu takes full advantage of summer grilling season. It starts with corn tortillas made from scratch and hot off the griddle. Set them out with three fillings–grilled pineapple-glazed shrimp, tamarind-marinated chicken, and spicy braised beef brisket–plus a variety of fresh condiments and toppings, like tomatillo salsa, ripe avocado slices, queso fresco, and shredded radishes, so guests can roll their own tacos. A pair of cocktails, beer-based cheladas and citrusy sangria, are light on the alcohol but bold in flavor. And the meal finishes with a refreshing fruit salad spiked with lime, chile and salt.

Menu Timeline

Up to 5 days ahead:

  • Make the beef brisket filling and sauce (reserve the broth for the beefy cheladas).

1 day ahead:

  • Marinate the chicken and make the spice rub for the grilled chicken tacos.
  • Prep and skewer the shrimp and make the sauce for the grilled shrimp tacos.
  • Make the tomatillo salsa.

4 hours ahead:

  • Prep the vegetables and dressing for the jicama slaw, but don’t combine them yet.
  • Freeze the mugs or glasses for the beefy cheladas.
  • Marinate the fruit in tequila and wine for the sangria.

2 hours ahead:

  • Prep all taco garnishes and set them out in bowls for guests to garnish their own tacos.
  • Cut up the mangos and strawberries for dessert; toss with lime juice and refrigerate.

1-1/2 hours ahead:

  • Make the dough for the fresh corn tortillas.

1 hour ahead:

  • Toss the jicama slaw with its dressing.
  • Cook the fresh corn tortillas and keep them warm in the oven.

As guests arrive:

  • Make the beefy cheladas and finish the sangria and serve.

30 minutes ahead:

  • Grill the chicken for the chicken tacos.

15 minutes ahead:

  • Grill the shrimp for the shrimp tacos.

Just before dessert:

  • Sprinkle the strawberries and mangos with sea salt and ground chile powder to taste, and serve.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 10 medium tomatillos
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium jícama (about 2 lb.)
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 4 medium serrano chiles
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 4 ripe mangos
  • 4 pints strawberries
  • 16 medium limes
  • 4 medium lemons
  • 3 medium navel oranges
  • Optional taco toppings: ripe tomatoes, red onions, iceberg lettuce, radishes, lime wedges, ripe avocados, fresh chiles

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 4 lb. trimmed beef brisket, preferably the flat half
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lb.)
  • 48 extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.; about 2-1/2 lb. total), peeled and deveined
  • Optional taco toppings: shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack, crumbled queso fresco, sour cream

Other Groceries

  • 2 lb. (8 cups) fine-grind masa harina (such as Maseca or Goya Masarica brand)
  • 2 quarts tomato juice cocktail (such as V8)
  • 1 750-ml bottle dry white wine
  • 1 750-ml bottle sparkling wine
  • 5 12-oz. bottles Mexican lager (such as Dos Equis)
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 1 12.5-oz. bottle tamarind soda (such as Jarritos brand)
  • 1/2 cup light agave nectar (or simple syrup)
  • 3 fl. oz. (6 Tbs.) plata (silver) tequila
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 7-oz. can chipotles in adobo (more for taco toppings, optional)
  • jarred salsa for taco toppings (optional)

Pantry Staples

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 10 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbs. pure chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • Hot red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, Cholula, or Tapatio
  • Celery salt
  • Sea salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu


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