Admission to the Union: August 1, 1876
With my recent trip to Colorado fresh in my mind, is it any wonder that Colorado would be the next dish I made for the 50 States project?
Before I’d ever visited Colorado, this is what I knew about the food there; they, like their neighboring states of New Mexico and Arizona, put green chilies on everything. This is what I learned after visiting Colorado; tacos seem to be a religion there and Bison (aka American Buffalo) is featured on every menu. So it only made sense that my Colorado inspired meal would be Bison Tacos and of course they had to include green chilies which then begged the question, what are “green chilies”?
I cook with chilies fairly often and can easily find Serranos and Jalapenos, Habeneros and Shishitos; but here in the Northeast I’ve never seen anything labeled just “green chili.” I needed to find out how I could procure the correct “green chili” from someone in the know so I text Dan who suggested I pick up a can of Hatch green chilies. According to Dan I could look for fresh long green chilies and roast them myself, but the canned ones work well in place of that. Luckily it was no problem finding Hatch green chilies at the supermarket.
Next I needed to grab some ground bison meat, which is really easy to find here. In fact all of the ingredients I needed were easy to find except for one. Every single supermarket I went to was out of Cotija cheese! At Whole Foods I was told that they should have more next week. Chris was nice enough to try at another local supermarket known for their great cheese department and was told that they hadn’t gotten any Mexican cheeses in a month! I made due by using a combination of Feta and Asiago which makes a reasonable substitute for Cotija, but Chris and I have dubbed this incident, The Great Mexican Cheese Shortage of Summer 2014.
If you’ve never cooked with bison before, here’s what you should know; bison is very similar in flavor to beef, but it is a much leaner meat. Because of the lack of fat in bison, you want to make sure to have plenty of liquid when you’re using it in a recipe that requires it to be fully cooked. I decided that the liquid I would use would be a beer and of course it had to be a Colorado beer so I picked up a can of Dale’s Pale Ale. If you want to keep this recipe gluten free though, I think beef broth would work well.
Chris and I loved these and this will officially be my new go to taco recipe. I also think it would be just as good with beef or turkey so don’t worry if bison isn’t readily available near you.
For the taco meat:
- Oil for cooking
- 1/2 a medium onion finely minced
- 1lb ground Bison
- 1/2 cup beer or beef broth (recommended: Dale’s Pale Ale)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground Cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried Oregano
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Coriander
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- large pinch of Cayenne
- Salt and Pepper
- Corn or wheat tortillas (we used corn)
- 1 can Hatch green chilies
- Chopped tomatoes
- Chopped onion
- Thinly sliced radishes
- Shredded Romaine lettuce
- Sliced avocado
- Grated Cotija cheese
- lime wedges
Heat a little oil a sauté pan, add onion and cook until the onion has begun to soften and turn translucent; about 3-54 minutes.
Add the bison, breaking it up as and cook until all the meat has begun to brown then pour most of the accumulated fat off and return the pan to the stove.
Add beer a stir. Allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone.
Stir in the tomato paste and all remaining ingredients and cook for one more minute or just long enough for the tomato paste and spices to be incorporated in to the meat.
Assemble and enjoy!