Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer.
It’s also the official start of grilling season.
Dads start rolling out the grills from the garage. People gather for backyard barbecues. Food Network has Grilling Week, a whole week dedicated to specials and shows and recipes centered around the grill.
There’s nothing better than a juicy burger, hot off the grill and tasting of open flames.
Except, if you have an itty bitty city kitchen, there’s nary a grill in sight.
Yes, I know, there are grill pans for indoor use. But I don’t know if it’s just us or if any of you had the same problem, we totally smoked our kitchen out using one. We have to go college-smoking-in-the-dorm style and bag our smoke detector to grill chicken or a burger.
Then the whole apartment smells like smoke.
Seriously. I showered the next day and when I dried off with my towel, I was basically rubbing smoke all over my newly cleaned self.
So for us, the grill pan is out. And anyway, the grill pan doesn’t mimic the char that you get on your burger when you cook over an open flame. And if I can’t have it the right way, then I’d rather not have.
So instead of trying to concoct ways to participate in the ultimate day for grilling, we went a different route.
Beef wasn’t optional.
But the bun was.
Who says you can’t celebrate Memorial Day with taco night?
I will admit that taco night is one of the more challenging nights in the life of an itty bitty city kitchen, but if you’re prepared and organized, it’s totally doable.
I’ll share with you our ingredients, but feel free to add and subtract toppings to suit your tastes.
- romaine lettuce
- black olives
- shredded cabbage
- taco cheese
- Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lime (in place of sour cream)
- flour tortillas
So here’s what I mean by being organized. We’re going to set up a make your own taco bar, which means each topping will be chopped up, put in its own bowl and lined up on the counter. It could easily overwhelm a little kitchen. But we’re going to be methodical.
First, pull out enough bowls for each topping and stack them up on the counter.
Get the cutting board and a knife.
Okay, here’s the key. Start with your least messy ingredient and then work your way to the messiest.
Think about it. You cut the tomato first and then move onto the romaine and you either have to rinse the cutting board and knife first or you wind up with tomato juice all over your romaine.
So, start with your romaine. Chop, place in bowl and then move the bowl out of the way, either off to the side or into the fridge to keep cold. I did the olives next, followed by the tomato. Then the cutting board went into the sink.
Spoon out a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt into a bowl and spritz lime juice over.
When everything is assembled, it’s on to the meat.
For the meat, I used ground beef, chorizo and half a yellow onion. But you can use just ground beef, chicken breast, steak, whatever you like. Taco night is all about taste and tailoring it to your tastes and cravings.
Drizzle olive oil in a pan and add in the chopped yellow onion and some chorizo, diced. I’m using the chorizo in place of taco seasoning here, mostly because it’s on hand and because the flavor is so much more complex than what you get from a seasoning packet.
Cook the onions and chorizo over medium until the onions are translucent and the chorizo starts to brown.
Add in the ground beef and brown.
Pour the meat into a bowl and add this to the taco assembly line.
Grab a plate, grab a tortilla and build your taco.
It’s not the traditional Memorial Day celebration, but it works for us.
We’ll start a new tradition.