Thursday, March 3, 2016

52. Turkey Tacos with Jerk Seasoning and Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa

Turkey Tacos with Jerk Seasoning and Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa Collage

I was really craving crunchy taco shells this time around!  In fact . . . I kind of wanted a "regular" taco.  You know - a ground beef taco with a hard taco shell.

Well, I've already made that one.  It was recipe number eighteen, a reimagining of the tacos I remember as a kid!  Since I had already covered that ground, I tried to think of another way to get the spice and crunch that I was desiring.

How about . . . JERK?  I love jerk seasoning.  It's got a few things in common with traditional Mexican flavors, but it's definitely it's own thing.

Is jerk ground beef a thing?  Hmmm.  I know jerk chicken is a thing.  I decided to play it safe and go with ground turkey (since I was not able to find ground chicken).

After that, my idea pretty much came together.  I thought Monterey Jack cheese would have a nice, neutral flavor that would go with with the jerk seasoning.  I also threw some lettuce in my shopping cart because . . . well, you know.  Token vegetable.  :)  Finally, I decided to top the tacos with some avocado slices, because avocado makes everything better!

I wanted a sauce or salsa, too.  After considering some options, I decided to try and create a roasted yellow pepper salsa with a tangy, sweet, and spicy kick!

For the shells, I went with freshly made crunchy shells from our local Food City, which is a Arizona-based grocery store that specializes in Latin-American products.  They have the best tortillas and chips!  (I have learned that there is also an unrelated chain of supermarkets called Food City in some other states such as Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Interesting!  I can't vouch for their tortillas and chips, though!)  I've used these shells before.  These and the crunchy shells from Trader Joe's are my favorite!  :)

Well, these definitely hit the spot!  They were spicy, flavorful, and satisfying.  Here's the recipe:

Turkey Tacos with Jerk Seasoning and Roasted Yellow Pepper Sauce

Serves 3-4 (about 10 tacos)


For the roasted yellow pepper salsa:

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 habañero pepper, sliced
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, seeded, and coarsely chopped

Roasted Yellow Peppers for Turkey Tacos

1 and 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 and 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the jerk-seasoned turkey mixture :

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
A few splashes of beer (or water)

10 high-quality crunchy taco shells (freshly made, if you can get them)

A few ounces of grated Monterey Jack cheese

A few leaves of green leaf lettuce, thinly sliced

One avocado, sliced

Paprika, for garnish


1.  Make the yellow pepper salsa:  Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, lower the heat slightly, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and habañero pepper and cook for an additional minute.  Remove from the heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  Transfer to a blender or food processor along with all of the remaining ingredients.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa for Turkey Tacos

Blend or process until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Set aside.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa for Turkey Tacos

2.  Make the ground turkey mixture:  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the turkey and cook, breaking the pieces apart with a spatula, until almost done, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to blend.  Add a little extra liquid if the mixture seems dry.  (The ground turkey doesn't have much fat, so I definitely added a few splashes of beer!)  Keep warm.

Jerk Seasoned Ground Turkey Mixture for Tacos

3.  Heat the shells:  Toast briefly (a minute or two) in a 350 degree oven until hot and fragrant.  Watch them - they can go from toasty to burned pretty quickly!

4.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a taco shell on a plate.  Fill with some of the turkey.  Top with a generous amount of the cheese.  Add a small amount of sliced lettuce and a slice or two of avocado.  Finish with some of the yellow pepper salsa and a sprinkle of paprika for color.  Enjoy!

Turkey Tacos with Jerk Seasoning and Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa

As I said, these tacos were just the ticket!  I thought the jerk seasoning had just the right amount of heat.  It wasn't crazy.  It was just . . . there.

Ground turkey does tend to get a bit dry, so be prepared to add a few splashes of liquid.  Water or beer should be fine.  If you happen to be drinking a chocolate-mint stout or some other weird dark beer, you might want to think before adding too much!  Ha ha.  A lager or pale ale/IPA should be fine.  :)

The only thing I might tweak next time would be the sauce.  It was pretty good.  I think it could be better, though.  Next time, I might try using only one yellow pepper and upping the vinegar and maybe even the habañero.  It had a great flavor, but it could have been punchier.  If you don't want to bother with the sauce, there are plenty of habañero hot sauces out there.  I'm sure one of those would work if it's one of those kind of days and you don't want to deal with making salsa.  :)

These were really good.  I was happy with them!  Steve liked them, too.

Turkey Tacos with Jerk Seasoning and Roasted Yellow Pepper Salsa

I would definitely recommend them!  They're also doable on a weeknight, which is always a plus!  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  What should I make for recipe number 53?  I haven't decided yet!  :)

Thanks for reading!

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