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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Have a Taco Party

Taco Party

You don't need summer to host a taco party.  They are fun no matter the season and certainly no holiday weekend is required.  The next time you plan on a gathering of friends or family, consider hosting an authentic taco party. Think about it, how many people do you know that don't like tacos? Personally, I can't think of a soul who doesn't start to drool just thinking about tacos.

In the next few days, I will post daily, yeah, I know you don't believe me.... anyway, I will post daily a new recipe, tip or decorating idea for your taco party. Print them out if you like. A few recipes will be from the book so you can get another sneak peek at some of the delicious and simple food prepared by a few of the cooks of Colonia Pancho Villa.

Hosting a taco party is easy, fun and your friends will think you are really clever! Many of my Mexican friends invite 20 or 30 of their closest friends for an evening of music, beer and tacos for any special occasion. Feeding that many people is still inexpensive and does not take much time. Most of the food 
can be prepared early in the day or the day before so you don't have to rush around not being able to enjoy your own party...... I hate when that happens!

As with all parties, begin with your guest list. Don't leave anyone out, the more guests, the more fun. T
hose that are less inhibited after drinking will bring more fun to the party.... (I think I fall into that category).

Second, you need to plan what food you will serve. If potlucks suit your fancy, then 'assign' food for your guests to bring. Doing this will also make sure you don't have 6 bowls of refried beans on your table. DO NOT allow anyone to bring food that was purchased pre-made unless it is beer or tequila. Personally, I like to do all the food myself. My guests are just that, guests. In Mexico you will not find anyone bringing food to a party. That would be bad manners on both the part of the host or hostess and the guest.

A list of possible foods you will want to include in your menu are:
carne asada – grilled beef
grilled pork
grilled chicken
grilled pineapple
grilled onions
refried beans
red rice
various salsas
shredded cheese – Chihuahua cheese or Manchego
tortilla chips
Mexican beer
non-alcohol Limeade for kids or non-drinkers
tons of ice

Bright and colorful table cloths, paper plates, napkins and red Solo cups. My friend Alicia doesn't go anywhere without her red Solo cup, she says it is extremely important to have the right beverage container.

Tomorrow I will begin giving you the recipes and shopping lists. By then you may already know how many guests will be attending and they will probably be just as excited as you are. Heck, I'm excited and I can't be there!

Meat Choices

Other than your guest list, the first major decision you need to make is what type of meat you will serve in your tacos. Normally, there are only one or two choices on a typical Mexican table. These are poor families and although the food is superb, there is not much variety in the meat choices. The type of salsas you serve depend on the type of meat, so that needs to be your building block. Below are some choices – all are easy to prepare but cost and/or your guest list may have a bearing on the choices you make.

Remember that each taco is not over-loaded with meat. A regular sized tortilla shell can handle 2-3 ounces (56-85 grams) only. Depending on your crowd and how many big eaters you have, figure on 3 tacos each as an average. Some eat more, some eat less. Always plan on extras for those uninhibited drinkers who just keep sucking those delicious tacos down.

Keep in mind that you can purchase 'taco meat', which is usually a coarsely ground beef, but you will not find it in any taco in Mexico and is frowned upon for tacos. That is a NOB (north of the border) concoction and not real Mexican food.

Carne asada – grilled beef. Thin sliced beef for the grill. Sometimes called skirt steak outside of Mexico. Any type of steak can be used, just slice it thin or chop it after grilling.

Tacos al pastor – grilled, marinated pork – my favorite!!! Again, this is thin pork. You marinate it and then grill it, chop it and serve with grilled pineapple in the taco.

Grilled chicken breast. Grill the chicken with the skin on until it has charred and crisp on the outside. This is important because you want some of that charred skin (not limp skin) in every taco.

NOTE: Shrimp or fish are also choices for tacos, but never served at a taco party.

OK, so you have decided on the meat. All are cooked much the same over hot coals on the grill. I will not get into the intricacies of grilling here. Just grill the meat until it is done the way you like it without over-cooking. The pork for tacos al pastor can also be sautéed if you prefer. I do not recommend sautéing the beef or chicken however, it just doesn't do it justice. 
All of the meat choices should be cooked or grilled at the last minute. Old meat is not appetizing! To keep it warm, you can put the bowls of cooked meat inside a crock pot set to low, or put a towel on top of an electric heating pad set to low, and place the bowls on top of that. 

Refried Beans

Counting down to the big weekend and that taco party! Certainly it is in your plans....... Yesterday we decided what type of meat you wanted in your tacos, today we will talk refried beans. Salsas will come a bit later in the week.

Making homemade refried beans is about as easy as it gets, so don't be intimidated. You can make them up to a couple days ahead of time, they only get better after sitting in the refrigerator.

Serving size to compute for your number of guests is easy enough. Two (2) pounds (.9 kilo) = 4 cups of dried pinto or Peruano beans make 24 – ½ cup servings after cooking. Again, as with the meat, make some extra for those that want seconds or thirds.

Unless you will be having a farting contest at your party, I would suggest you buy Peruano beans because they create less gas. If these are unavailable, get pinto beans.

Corn Husk Serving Bowls


The taco party plans are coming along nicely, don't you think? We need some salsa though to accompany all those wonderful meats and fillings. All the salsas listed here will be delicious with any of the meats you have chosen. Don't worry, I will also give you a list of other condiments that are common on tacos. But first, the salsas.....

1. The first basic salsa that is a MUST is the Salsa Cruda or Pico de Gallo or Salsa Mexicana or Raw Salsa. This is all the same salsa but it is called many different names in your part of the world. I would start with a butt-load of tomatoes. How many guests will determine how big that butt-load is. I usually figure about 1 tomato per person. Remember that each person will be having more than one taco and at this time of year, tomatoes should be inexpensive to buy. If you are not sure if everyone likes chiles, then serve them on the side in a separate bowl. This however would be the NOB (north of the border) way of serving this salsa, not the Mexican way. Make this the day of the party, not before or your salsa won't taste or look as fresh. Feel free to chop the ingredients – except the tomatoes – the day before and store in separate containers in the fridge.

NOTE: Increase the recipe for the size party you are having. Double the tomatoes and cilantro. Only increase the amount of onion by about ¼ and add lime juice to taste. It should taste a bit 'limey' but not overpower the other flavors. Stir it well and give it a taste. You can always add more if needed.

2. The second is the Roasted Tomato Salsa.

3. The third is Salsa Verde or Green Salsa.

Look for another post listing the condiments and another post on serving and how to keep things warm.

Red Rice aka Mexican Rice

        The Best Margarita You Will Ever Drink
        Limeadefor the non-alcohol drinkers including kids

Beer choices are:
XX Dos Equis
Negra Modelo (a lovely dark beer)

Condiments and Details

Here we put the finishing touches on your menu and the rest will be up to you. Oh for goodness sakes, of course you can do this!

Make sure to have lots of corn tortillas, figure 3 per person. This will probably average out because you will have big eaters and light eaters. If you have a tortillaria (place that makes tortillas) nearby that makes fresh tortillas – many grocery stores in the US now have them in their bakery section - buy them there. They will probably sell them by the pound and you can ask them how many tortillas to a pound. I can't really help you there because it depends on the type of equipment they have and the size of each tortilla that machine cranks out. Get the 6” (15 cm) size tortillas.

Condiments you want to have on hand:
avocados – sliced thin
red onions – sliced thin
extremely finely shredded raw white cabbage – use your micro-plane it should look crumbly almost like
Parmesan cheese
shredded Chihuahua or Manchego cheese

** lettuce shredded – you will not find shredded lettuce on a taco table here in Mazatlán but I know many people NOB (north of the border) like it

As you get your shopping list together, don't forget to look over the recipes I have already posted so you don't forget anything.

Give the blog a once-over in the Past Recipe tab to see if there is something else in there of interest to you.


Make the decor look Mexican. Brightly colored table cloths of red, yellow, blue, and orange. Paper plates should also have these bright colors, mix and match. They needn't be expensive and don't need a design on them, just brightly colored. You may be able to get them at the dollar store. Red Solo cups – a must for making your margaritas. If you have Christmas lights, put them up! Mexican parties are always festive and loud – get that CD player out and hook up the speakers. You can get some really nice Mariachi music - look in the bargain bins in Wal Mart or any place you can buy music.

Wear flip flops and brightly colored clothes.

Chill your beer in large plastic or metal bins. I had a friend who would decorate an old wringer type washer and use the tub as an ice bucket during a party! Use your imagination. Hang a bottle opener on a string from a tree.

Enjoy, have fun, make this a memorable taco party that your friends will talk about until the next holiday party!

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