The taco is a traditional Mexican dish that consists of a tortilla wrap with a filling and some garnish.
Fillings are usually beef, chicken, seafood, pork or vegetables and the flavors and colors are amazing.
Cooking the fillings on your outdoor grill adds and extra dimension to your tacos and it’s a great way to enjoy food with friends and family. You’re able to prepare most of the ingredients in advance before you grill your meat, seafood or vegetables.
To get the most out of taco Tuesdays it’s useful to look at fillings, which grills to use and different ways of grilling.
We’ll also delve into the world of smoking and take a look at the equipment and woods used.
Prepare the Garnish
Before you cook the main filling for your tacos, you’ll need to make a garnish to accompany the main ingredient.
The beauty of tacos is that you’re able to use whatever you like to make them tasty and filling.
Prepare some salad ingredients, including crunchy lettuce, onion, tomato and bell peppers. Mix the salad and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
If you want the real Mexican experience, you could add some hot chilli peppers to your salad to give the tacos a kick. Jalapeno and habanero peppers are fiery and will light up your taste buds. These hot peppers are not for everyone and you should check before serving them to others.
You’ll also need some kind of sauce to dress the finished taco, and you can use salsa, mayonnaise or ketchup. Hot chilli sauce always goes down well and you can try adding your favorite cheese, homemade coleslaw or guacamole.
You’ll need your tortilla to make tacos; these are made from corn or wheat. You can make your own but it’s just as easy to pick them up from the store when you’re out shopping and there’s a good selection to choose from.
What Are the Best Taco Fillings?
Beef is one of the most popular taco fillings and one of the most commonly grilled meats.
The secret to grilling beef well is to cook it slowly to keep it tender and juicy. Buy the best cuts you can and look for beef that has a little fat; this helps to cook it and also adds flavor.
Pork goes great in a taco and there are a few different cuts that work well on a grill. Pork butt and shoulder are popular cuts and, when grilled slowly, they have a wonderful taste.
If you like a crunch, you should cook on a high heat for 30 minutes before reducing the temperature.
Chicken is one of the best meats to grill, due to its ability to take on other flavors during the cooking process.
Charred chicken tastes great and if you’re smoking your poultry, it’s even better. Chicken does tend to dry out quickly though, and basting regularly with a grill mop helps to prevent this.
To add more taste to your meats you are able to marinate them overnight before grilling. Marinating beef in a BBQ sauce or chicken in a spicy Asian mix will keep it moist and tender.
Seafood is another great filling for a tasty taco and it’s a healthy option packed with goodness.
Shrimp, tuna and crab work particularly well as taco fillings and they’re full of flavor. Spicing up the seafood with some chilli will give it a kick, or you may prefer a light dressing for a fresh tasting taco.
If you prefer a vegetarian option, there are a number of foods you can grill to fill your tortilla. Sweetcorn, bell peppers, cabbage and zucchini work well and don’t take long to grill. A popular choice for many are spicy bean tacos. These are filling and they give a nice hit of hotness.
Which Type of Grill Should I Use?
Various types of outdoor grills can be used to cook your fillings for taco Tuesdays and they all add a slightly different flavor to the food.
The most popular grills are fueled with charcoal or gas, but you’re also able to use pellet grills and basic electric grills.
The simplest way to grill food outdoors is to use some kind of charcoal grill; these are readily available, even disposable ones can be used. Kettle grills, kamado grills and barrel grills are used to grill pork, beef, seafood and chicken to your liking.
Charcoal grills are simple to set up and use and, once you’ve filled the grill with coals and lit them, you’re ready to go.
When the coals are hot, you’ll have enough grilling time to cook various meats and vegetables. A charcoal grill adds a unique, charred flavor to food that you don’t get with any other cooking method.
As well as traditional grilling, you’re able to use a charcoal grill for smoking meats.
Adding some flavored hardwood chips to the coals will produce an aromatic smoke to flavor the food.
When you’re grilling over coals, it’s important to monitor the heat and use the vents to raise or lower the temperature.
Meats should be grilled reasonably slowly to keep them juicy and tender. If you open the vents on the grill, the heat will rise; closing the vents causes the temperature to drop.
Gas grills are usually powered by propane and they’re now very popular as well as being easy to use and maintain. Once you’ve ignited the gas you’re ready to grill your food in a controlled way.
Gas grills don’t give meat that charred flavor but you do have more control over the temperature which is useful. When you’re grilling seafood and vegetables to fill your tacos, you may not need a high heat.
Many gas grills have multiple burners. So, for example, you can have the left side hot and the right side a little cooler for different foods.
Most gas grills have a lid which is essential if you plan to smoke your meat or seafood. The lid has one or more vents which are used to control temperature and smoke flow for an even cook.
When you’re using a gas grill, it’s also important to check the seals on the regulator and on the grill before you light it. Seals can perish over time and if there is a propane leak there’s a risk of fire. It’s advisable to replace seals at regular intervals to keep everything in order.
Pellet grills have been around for a while and they’re now becoming more popular with grilling enthusiasts. Cooking on a pellet grill is a great way to add additional flavors to foods such as meat and seafood.
A pellet grill is powered by electricity and food-grade wood chips are heated by a hot rod. This heat causes the wood pellets to smoke, which cooks the food slowly. The wood chips are fed into the grill from a hopper at a steady rate, to maintain the heat and smoke.
A pellet grill will have electronic controls which are used to control the cooking temperature.
One of the benefits of a pellet grill is that temperatures are accurate, which avoids overcooking.
One of the great advantages of using a pellet grill is that you’re able to experiment with different woods and flavors.
Apple, oak, hickory, cherry and mesquite woods will add unique flavors to your taco fillings. Pellet grills heat up fast, cook food evenly and you have the option to grill, smoke, roast or braise your meats.
There are a number of electric grills on the market and these can be used to grill meat, seafood and vegetables to fill your tacos. Electric grills are portable, but you will need to be near a power point or have a generator.
Electric grills have temperature controls and they grill evenly, although you don’t get the grill marks that you get with gas and charcoal.
These grills are particularly useful if you have limited space in your yard. One of the benefits of electric grills is they are easy to maintain and keep clean.
Smoking Meats for Taco Tuesdays
If you want to enhance the flavor of your taco fillings you are able to use a smoker and it’s a great way to cook.
Smokers are available in many sizes, from a compact electric unit to a smoker that will cater for large groups.
Smokers can be fueled by wood, charcoal, gas, electric and pellets, making them flexible.
The difference between smoking and grilling is that you’re not cooking the food over a direct heat, and cooking takes a little longer.
The heat that’s produced causes the wood to smoke, which cooks and flavors the food. The art of good smoking is to maintain a steady temperature and smoke flow.
In order to maintain heat inside the smoker, you’ll need to monitor the fuel and wood carefully.
If you use a charcoal powered smoker, the coals will have to be topped up when they’re running low. The wood needs to be topped up when it’s burnt out, to maintain the flow of smoke.
When your meat or seafood is in the smoker, it’s important to leave it alone until it’s ready to serve.
There’s no need to turn the food as the smoke and heat inside the smoker will cook it evenly. If you need to baste your food with sauces or wet rubs, you can open the grill when necessary.
What Are the Best Woods to Use in a Smoker?
Whichever type of fuel you’re using to power your outdoor smoker, the most important thing is the wood. The wood produces the aroma that’s going to penetrate the food and add some flavor.
Various woods are used for different types of meat and seafood. The key is to enhance the taste of the meat and not overpower it.
Before you use wood on a grill or in a smoker, you’ll need to prepare the wood by soaking it in cold water for at least an hour.
Moist wood burns slower and it produces more smoke, so you won’t use as much. If the wood is very dry, it will burn out quickly and may affect the taste of the food.
Oak is one of the most popular woods used by smokers and it produces a strong flavor. If you plan to smoke beef to fill your tacos then oak produces an aroma that’s perfect for this meat.
The beef will take on the smoke over a period of a few hours, to produce a tender and tasty taco filling.
Applewood is a mild wood that produces a subtle aroma and adds a sweet taste to meat.
Smoking applewood is perfect if you’re cooking pork or chicken to go in your tacos. Pork and chicken absorb the smoke well and you’ll get a nice crust on the outside of the meat.
If you’re making seafood filling for your tacos, you should try alder wood, which is very mild and aromatic.
Alder wood adds a delicate sweetness to shrimp, crab and various types of fish. Many experienced smokers mix alder with other woods to create a slightly stronger taste.
Maple is one of the lightest woods used for smoking and it complements chicken and pork. Maple gives a light smokiness to the meat, but it does not interfere with the natural flavors. The aroma is sweet and subtle; mixing maple with apple is also a good combination.
Now you have some more information about grilling you’re able to transform your Tuesdays into taste heaven.
The new flavors you’ve added to your tacos are sure to impress your guests.
Don’t forget to put a few beers or a bottle of wine in the chiller to complement your grilled Mexican cuisine.