Building a Better Burrito: Taco Potion #19
Empires have been built on packaged seasoning mixes. There are packets for everything from chili to spaghetti sauce to tacos to meatloaf. I grew up on those packets! Steadily over time, I’ve learned to make those dishes from scratch, but there’s been a hold out, one last packet standing in my pantry — Lawry’s Hot Taco.
Building a better burrito, even a gringo one, starts with the meat and its seasoning. I tried but just could not come up with the right combination of spices to duplicate or surpass the Hot Taco packet (and eliminate all the ingredients I couldn’t pronounce). More salt? Was it the chili powder? Is it cocoa that’s missing? What about garlic powder? Oregano? I looked it up on copycat recipe sites, I tried the taco mix from Marketspice, a great spice and tea shop in Seattle. No joy. So we just kept on with the packet for our everyday tacos and burritos. Until…
These aren’t “authentic” tacos, well, I guess you could call them authentically Americanized. Either way, I think I can safely say Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19 may be the last taco seasoning recipe you will ever need. Whatever the formulations in the previous 18, number 19 hits it on the nose. I generally halve it for 1 lb. of ground beef and mix it up just before I start browning the meat. The beef broth is key. I’ve made it with water, a la the packet instructions, and it’s ok, but get a box of beef broth. Maybe I’m overselling this, but after you’ve had this Taco Potion, there’s no lookin’ back. It’s buh-bye, packet.