Ground Bison Crispy Tacos

Do certain smells make you feel nostalgic?

They do me. Especially, the smell of beach airsawdust, and fried corn tortillas.

Beach air, because we have been going to Port Aransas since I was a kid. Every year, when we’re about 30 minutes away from the ferry, the air starts to feel heavier. Thicker. And I can smell the saltiness. It makes me think of family and summer and giant snow cones.

Port Aransas circa 1983

Sawdust, because my parents have been remodeling houses since before I was born. So whenever I smell freshly cut wood, I think of my dad with his measuring tape and my mom on a mission. And even now, a stack of 2-by-4s is as familiar as Scooby Do.

My dad working on the porch

Fried corn tortillas, because when I think of my mom in the kitchen, I think of her standing next to a shallow pan of oil, flipping a corn tortilla with a fork and a finger, and then sliding them over, one by one, to a paper towel on a plate.

My mom frying tortillas

As I’ve posted before, I love to use fried corn tortillas to make chalupas.

Like these . . .

But now I’m all into crispy tacos. Like these . . .

This recipe for ground bison meat is my favorite filling.

What smells make you feel nostalgic? And why? I would love to hear your stories!


Bison Taco Meat (Recipe in English / Receta en Español)

Serves 4-6

If you’re looking for “taco flavored” taco meat, this ain’t it. The seasonings in this recipe (onion, garlic and cumin) are simple and understated. I like this approach to seasoning because it lets the mellow flavor of the bison — plus all your fixins’ — shine through. If you want to heat things up a bit, add a pinch of cayenne or hot smoked paprika.

1 lb. ground bison

1/4 white onion

1-2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Have you tried bison? Bison meat is fairly common these days, so you can probably find it at your local grocer. (Why bison? It’s leaner than most other cuts of meat – including beef, chicken, and pork –and has more iron than all three.) If you can’t find bison, ground sirloin would work just fine.

Begin browning the meat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to break up the meat.

While meat is cooking, grind the onion and garlic using a molcajete (or a blender or food processor, or just mince finely them with a knife). A molcajete is the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle. As much as I love my food processor, I adore my molcajete, especially for seasoning this dish and for making homemade salsa.

Grind the onion and garlic until it is a soft mush.

Add that mixture, the cumin and the salt to the pan with the meat, and stir to combine.

Finish browning the meat, stirring occasionally. Taste; adjust cumin or salt if needed. Remove pan from heat.

Serve seasoned meat in tacos, or on top of chalupas or nachos.

Be sure to load up your tacos with lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, salsa, and cilantro lime sauce!

For a printable recipe, click here for English, and here for Spanish.


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