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Thoughts on Cooking Up a Mexican Fiesta

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    Thoughts on Cooking Up a Mexican Fiesta

    This coming Sunday we're having our first group of friends over since this damn pandemic started for a Mexican fiesta meal and I'm looking for some advice on pulling together the proteins. I have the menu all planned out and for the proteins, I'm going to be doing:
    1. Carne Asada Tacos
    2. Tacos al Pastor
    3. Chicken Tacos
    I have 3 thoughts on how to approach this:
    1. Cook all 3 proteins the day of and have them all ready to go right before we sit down to eat.
    2. Cook all 3 proteins the day before, ice bath them, and then reheat in a sous vide the day of.
    3. Some combination of the above, likely do the beef and chicken the day before and the pork the day of since the cooking method and presentation of the al Pastor is kind of cool looking.
    I have more than enough cookers to be able to handle all 3 proteins the day of, I'm just not sure if I want to be doing that much work when my guests are here, on the other hand, both the beef and chicken would be very quick cooks, and fresh off the grill is generally better than something reheated.

    I'm really interested to get the take of the brain trust around here on this.


    One other question, for the al Pastor, I can either use a rotisserie or an upright skewer stuck through the bottom of a pineapple. The rotisserie would be a bit easier as no basting is required, however, I feel that the skewer method will provide a better presentation at meal time.

    Thoughts on this?



    • IFindZeroBadCooks
      IFindZeroBadCooks commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh, you must do the skewer since you have one. No question at all here in my view.

    • TripleB
      TripleB commented
      Editing a comment
      I do my Al Pastor in a bread pan. Pineapple is roasted with Al Pastor drippings. You can make this a day or two ahead to save some time. Then you just chop it up and heat it up on a griddle. It comes out very good, just not the visual presentation as on a rotisserie.

    As an aside, to whichever moderator moved this to the correct location for me, thanks, not sure how I missed the correct subchannel and WOW, that was amazingly fast! :-)


      How much meat are we talking here?


      • pkadare
        pkadare commented
        Editing a comment
        3 lbs of bavette
        4 lbs of bone-in pork shoulder prior to trimming and slicing
        12 or so chicken thighs pounded flat

      I lean towards option 3. Mainly because the tacos al pastor can benefit from additional attention while cooking if you want to slice off little pieces to ensure the next layer is crispy and so on. That can definitely be part of the dinner experience or require additional work the other two proteins would not. That way you can focus on nailing the chicken and beef the day before. As long as you slice to serve the other two meats, I see no issues reheating in sous vide.


      • pkadare
        pkadare commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks, that's kind of the option I was leaning towards as well.

      Will your guests be gathered around or near the cookers? Would you be able to interact while cooking?

      Although most here want to provide the best food possible, the purpose of a get together is to, well, get together. To me, option 3 sounds good, but if you can handle the cookin' and the talkin' at the same time, the best food will be "hot off the grill".


      • smokin fool
        smokin fool commented
        Editing a comment
        Nailed it.
        Depends on how many bowling pins you can juggle the day of. I know when I do cooks this inevitably one pin lands on my melon.
        I find Mexican tastes better the second day anyways.
        Don't forget the guacamole, simple and easy to make right in front of guests.

      • FireMan
        FireMan commented
        Editing a comment
        Personally, guacamole is best a few hours to next day. Just me sayin, fer same reason anything else tastes better from a melding of tastes over time.

      If this was me, I would cook everything the day of. Not even sure I can articulate why...I guess because I feel it's always better straight off the cooker (vs. being reheated), plus I selfishly enjoy my guests seeing the work that goes into dinner. Not to mention it can be a great excuse to give yourself a brief break if one is desired. Of course, if this was me, I would also screw something up because I waited until the day of...


        Of the three meats, I'd be least likely to cook the steak ahead of time. Reheated steak never tastes right to me.

        For both the Al Pastor and the chicken - you can cook and then chop in advance and then reheat in a skillet/griddle to get it nice and crispy which will only take a few minutes and not worry too much about overcooking it. For the chicken, that would be very similar to how I do halal-style street meat. Grill off the chicken thighs, let rest/chop and then cook a second time to get crispy

        Thinking the order would be grill the steak to doneness and then while its resting, cook up the sliced al pastor and chopped chicken thighs and then chop up the steak and serve all together.

        For what you are cooking, I don't see the need/benefit for sous vide


        • pkadare
          pkadare commented
          Editing a comment
          The sous vide is simply for ease of reheating if I make stuff in advance.

        For the chicken, look at Troutman's Chicken Tinga recipe which seems like it could be done before hand


        • pkadare
          pkadare commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, that does look great and yes, looks like I could get everything ready the day before and then just finish in a skillet the day of.

        Taco Bell "family Feast?" oh never mind.
        Cerveza PBR

        P.S. PBR and Taco Bell go together, in that order.
        Last edited by bbqLuv; August 30, 2021, 10:27 AM.


          Personally, I would opt for cooking the day of, and if you time it right, all will be ready at meal time.

          For the beef (carne asada), I think you could do this on your griddle easily, along with any veggies such as peppers and onions, and slice the flank or skirt steak at meal time. For the chicken tacos you could marinate it and cook on the flat top as well. Griddles are great for taco stuff in my opinion. I like boneless skinless thighs for this, more than breast meat.

          For the al pastor, I suggest the skewer approach and just cooking over charcoal on your Keg or another grill. I've done that for shawarma lately several times, and then carved the meat on the cutting board. It worked VERY well, and I was able to rotate as I carved from the skewers, and get a bit of the outside char into each piece of meat.


            BTW - here's the menu. We're having 7 people over, 3 couples, and one stag, and I went to school with the husbands back in the '90s. Really looking forward to this!
            Click image for larger version

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              Great looking menu, and 7 is not many folks to cook for to be honest, so this should be a relaxing cook. I probably would have pared it to two meat choices, but regardless - that Blackstone griddle/range ought to come in handy for prepping a lot of this. You've got plenty of tools and be sure to get some pics of the results for us. Curious to see which of all your cookers you choose to make this meal happen.


                Don’t forget the Mexican rice! Here’s one to try:

                But here’s my easy fave:
                Los Barrios Family Mexican Rice
                Mexican/Tex-Mex, Rice, Corn & Grains, Sides
                3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
                1 clove garlic, chopped
                1 tablespoon chicken base
                1 teaspoon salt
                1 cup water
                1½ cups white rice
                ½ cup vegetable oil
                ½ green bell pepper, or poblano, chopped
                ½ onion, chopped
                2 cups HOT water

                Place tomatoes, garlic, chicken base, and salt in blender. Purée until smooth. Add the water, blend thoroughly.
                Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the rice. Toast the rice until it begins to brown. Add pepper and onion and sauté until vegetables are tender.
                Pour the tomato mixture into the skillet with the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the two cups of HOT water, stir well , cover and simmer 10 minutes. Reduce heat, allow rice to cook 5-10 minutes longer or until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed. [TAKES LONGER!] Fluff with a fork and serve.


                  Where’s the fish?


                  • pkadare
                    pkadare commented
                    Editing a comment
                    SWMBO is not a fan. 🤔


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