Cooking With Confidence
taco night
Economical, Main Dishes, Pork, Side Dishes, Spicy

Hosting a Taco Night

by Nick

There comes a point in every home cook’s life where you are faced with feeding more people than your kitchen might normally accommodate. This could be a holiday party or a birthday thing, or it could just be because you happen to be super-duper popular.

There are some meals that absolutely are a bad idea for this kind of thing. Any dish that you have to individually cook is bad. Anything with a lot of steps is worse. Anything that requires a lot of primping or careful watch is definitely out.

Enter taco night.

It’s probably the best way that I can think of to happily feed a huge amount of people with as little stress as possible. For a recent taco night I hosted, I made three different things for the meal including some really killer tacos. I thought I’d take a post and take you all through the process!

The key to a low-stress taco night is splitting up your work. So ideally you have some pieces that you can do a day or two before, some stuff you can make earlier in the day, and not much that you need to do when people arrive.

My do ahead dish for this taco night was a simple and fresh corn and black bean salad!

Corn and Black Bean Salad
Serves 10-15 people plus you’ll probably have leftovers.

– 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
– 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 red onion, diced
– 1 green pepper, diced
– 1 red pepper, diced
– 3 limes, juice only
– 1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
– 1-2 jalapenos, minced (optional)
– 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced (optional)
– Salt and pepper

corn salsa

A simple salsa

Making the salad. There’s not much to know about this salad other than the fact that it’s amazing. It does take some time to chop up all the stuff, but that’s why it’s a great thing to do the day before the taco night. Plus, that gives it a day to chill in the fridge. The flavors only become better.

One tip for cutting the corn off the cob is to do it with the ear standing upright in a large bowl. Then as you slice the corn off it falls in the bowl rather than scattering all over the counter.

Then just slice and dice all your other stuff and mix it together! If you wanted to add some heat to the salad, be sure to dice up a jalapeno or two also.

Taste this as you go and adjust the flavors and season with salt and pepper.

corn salsa done

Dicin’ and mixin’

So you can serve this as a side salad or with chips. It’s great no matter what and leftovers keep for at least a week.

The Guac. If you’re hosting a legit taco night, you need to make some serious guacamole. Now, I’ve made a few versions of guacamole over the years, but the crowd said that this was one of the best guacs they’ve had.

We destroyed this stuff.

Real Deal Guacamole
Serves 10 if you’re lucky.

– 6 avocados
– 2-3 shallots, minced
– 3 serrano peppers, minced
– 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 Cup cilantro, minced (optional for cilantro haters)
– 2 limes, juice only
– Salt and pepper

This is really basic stuff, but one of the important things about guac is to make sure you dice up all your ingredients evenly. Big chunks of stuff isn’t really good.

Also, I find it easier to chop up everything but the avocado, like this:

chopped stuff

Real guacamole making.

And then mix in all the avocados!

guacamole

Some of the best I’ve made.

I wouldn’t make the guac the day before, but you can definitely make it an hour or two before. Once it’s mixed, just lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the top (so the plastic is on the guacamole) to keep it from browning and store it in the fridge until you need it.

The main event. Ok. So if you’re a really dedicated Macheesmo reader, these tacos might look familiar to you. That’s because I’ve made them before.

They are my yam, poblano, and chorizo tacos. I’m posting them again because they work great for a taco night. They are kind of unique, but also because they are some of the best tacos I’ve had and you should probably make them.

Yammy Chorizo Tacos (taken from Bon Appètit)
Serves 10.

2 pounds chorizo, out of casing
3 large yam or sweet potato
4 poblano peppers
2 large red onion
3 lime (just the juice)
Flour tortillas
Cotija (or feta) Cheese
Kosher salt

taco ingredients

Killer taco stuff.

Prepping for the tacos. Again, you can do some of the prep work for these tacos way before people even arrive. One thing you can do is peel all the yams (or they are sometimes labeled sweet potatoes in the states) and dice them into matchsticks.

I usually go for about the length of my pinkie finger. You can also chop up the poblano peppers into the same size pieces.

matchsticks

Take your time here.

The only other thing you can do prior to guests arriving is making the pickled red onions for the tacos. Just slice two red onions really thinly and combine them with the juice from a few limes and a good pinch of salt. Put those in a plastic container and give them a good shake and store them in the fridge until you need them. You could make these a day in advance without a problem.

For those keeping track, that means before anyone has even arrived we have the corn salad done. The guacamole is made and ready. The yams and poblano peppers are in matchsticks ready for the tacos and the red onions are pickling in lime juice.

There’s almost nothing to do at this point.

The only thing you need to do is cook the chorizo. To do this, just remove all the chorizo from the casing and cook it in your largest pan over high heat. Cook it until it’s well browned and smells delicious. Like this:

chorizo

This will smell awesome.

Next, remove your chorizo from the pan, but don’t rinse the pan! Use all that oil from the chorizo and add your matchsticked veggies to the pan.

Cook the matchsticks until they are tender but not soft. Add a bit of neutral oil if they look dry. Try not to overcook the veggies or they just become soggy. About five minutes should be more than enough.

Then add all your chorizo back to the pan (you need a big pan), and your tacos are ready to go!

Then you can kind of set up an assembly line with tortillas, the filling, the pickled onions, and some crumbled cheese and you’ll look like a party genius.

taco line

The start of the assembly line.

I think I fed 10 people with this meal and barely broke a sweat because I had done almost everything before anyone even arrived.

SO I was able to relax, have a beer, and a few tacos of course.

side view

Just the best taco you’ll ever eat.

I didn’t have any vegetarians at this dinner which made my life easier, but if I did I would’ve just cooked up some mushrooms or crumbled tofu and used that with some spices (cayenne, paprika, cumin) instead of the chorizo for a taco filling.

So if you need to feed a lot of people and are stressing…

Look to the taco dinner.

Love the taco dinner.

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12 comments on “Hosting a Taco Night

  1. Ain't no party like a taco party! We had one this summer for my boyfriend's 30th bday, only we smoked a pork butt (bbq tacos = heaven). I got a little overambitious and made fresh corn tortillas for all the guests, which ended up with me sweating in the kitchen all night, and an actual LINE formed from the dining room into the kitchen while people sat and watched me flipping tortillas. Not a good idea at all.

    Anyway, I love chorizo and I think my body is made of 70% tacos anyway, so I will definitely be making this soon. Thanks!

  2. I like the salad best.

    It is beautiful and colourful and I actually can smell the Serrano and the lime.

    The photo of the salad is good enough to hang on a wall.

    Thank you Macheesmo

  3. Man, look at those tacos! I was wondering what I should whip up for the "Boardwalk Empire" watching party I'm sort of dreaming up, and even though it has nothing to do with either Atlantic City or Prohibition, tacos might be just the thing.

  4. I'm hosting taco night this coming up friday, and I'm def. trying your chorizo recipe!
    Just a tip: you can prepare the guacamole way before. But how do you keep it from browning, you ask? Just keep the avocado's pit in the guacamole and that should do the trick ;)

    Thanks for the recipes!

  5. If you can get some black bean tempeh, it can be chopped finely and sauteed with chorizo spices, garlic and onion to give a faux chorizo flavor and texture. With the addition of matchsticked veggies, it can be a great veggie taco. That way, your prep only involves two large skillets and the same vegetables for vegetarian and omnivore taco night options.

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