Wednesday, December 2, 2015

30. Bison Tacos with Guajillo-Red Wine Sauce, Monterey Jack Cheese, and Loaded Guacamole


Well, after our whirlwind of a holiday weekend, I'm finally getting around to posting our Thanksgiving Eve tacos.  I got off easy this year - I love hosting Thanksgiving, but my parents did it this year.  The only thing I was assigned to bring was cranberry sauce, which left me plenty of time to make tacos on Wednesday night!

Today is December 2nd - the four-month anniversary of the beginning of my project!  With all things considered, I'm hanging in there.  I've already made recipe thirty-one.  I need to finish that post shortly!  Tonight, I'll make recipe thirty-two.  I should be on thirty-three or four, but I'm so close!  If I get a few extras in there over winter break, I'll be fine!

I want to pace myself so we don't end up having tacos EVERY DAY during the months of June and July.  Ha ha.

I was in the mood for red chile on the night that I made these.  I decided to use dried guajillo chiles and ground bison to make a hearty, spicy filling.  If you can't find ground bison or don't want to use it, I'm sure ground beef would be fine.

I wanted to include guacamole, but the guacamole that I always make just seemed too . . . obvious.  :)  I really have issues with keeping things simple, I know!

I decided to do loaded guacamole.  I added crumbled bacon, garlic, and cumin to my usual recipe to give it a little kick!

Here's the recipe!  The results are below!  :)

Bison Tacos with Guajillo-Red Wine Sauce, Monterey Jack Cheese, and Loaded Guacamole

Serves 4 (about 8 generous tacos)


For the loaded guacamole:

2 large slices high-quality bacon
3 small ripe avocados, diced or lightly mashed with a fork
1 clove garlic, pressed in a garlic press
1 small roma tomato, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
2 jalapeƱos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, to taste
juice of half a lime

For the bison mixture:

4 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 cup soaking water (from the chiles)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tbsp. tomato paste
12 oz. ground bison
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 to 24 corn tortillas, depending on whether you want to double them up

A few ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese

Shredded iceberg lettuce

Chile powder, for garnish (optional)

Lime slices, for garnish (optional)


1. Start the guacamole:  Cook the bacon until it is crisp.  You can use any method you like.  I like to cook bacon in the oven.  I place it on a foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Then, I put it in the oven and turn the oven to about 380 degrees.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.  Drain the bacon on paper towels.

2. Start the guajillo sauce:  Place the chiles in a glass liquid measuring cup.  Cover the chiles with about 1 1/2 cups boiling water.  Allow them to soak until softened, about 20 to 30 minutes.

3. While the chiles are soaking, finish the guacamole.  Place all of the ingredients (except the bacon) in a small bowl and gently combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Cover and set aside.

4. Remove the chiles from the water.  Reserve about 1 cup of the soaking liquid.  Place the water and the chiles back in the glass measuring cup.  Add the wine and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Set aside.

5. Make the bison mixture:  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, lower the heat a bit, and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and oregano and cook for an additional minute.  Increase the heat to medium and add the bison.  Cook and stir until slightly browned and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Add the tomato paste and the reserved chile and wine mixture.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce, about 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Keep warm.

5. While the bison is cooking, (or after, if you don't want to multi-task,) prepare the tortillas:  Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.  As the tortillas are done, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When they are all finished, wrap them in the foil.  You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven if you wish.

6. Crumble or chop the bacon and add to the guacamole.  Mix well.

7. When all the components are ready, assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  (If your tortillas are thin, as mine were, double them up!)  Top with some of the bison mixture.  Sprinkle with some grated cheese.  Add a small amount of lettuce and a healthy dose of the guacamole.  Garnish with a sprinkle of chile powder and a squeeze or two of lime.  Enjoy!

These tacos turned out to be the perfect pre-Thanksgiving meal!  They were hearty and flavorful, but not overly heavy or filling.  We had two each and that was the perfect amount.

I can't really think of anything I would change.  The guajillo chiles add some heat, but it wasn't too much for us - a nice slow burn.

I don't know whether it was the bacon or the fact that I used less lime than usual (because I didn't know how it would mesh with the bacon and bison), but the guacamole did not keep well at all.  If you're not serving four, you might want to make a bit less.  Or just get some chips and eat chips and extra guac on the side!

On a positive note, I added the leftover bison to some tomato sauce and made a really awesome spicy spaghetti sauce for another dinner - recycling at its finest!  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try the tacos?  What did you think?  Well . . . on to the next one!

Thanks for reading!

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