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tacos

Ramona King

bourbon lime chicken tacos

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Kick off your weekend fiesta with our favorite Mexican inspired dishes and cocktails

While I call the South home now, I was born and raised is sunny California—Los Angeles to be exact.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood that was teeming with different cultures and the meals that came from them. From piping hot bowls of authentic Vietnamese Pho to rich creamy curries, I truly had a chance to taste it all. I'm pretty sure my love for eating and cooking came from my time spent trying the different delicacies that were available all around me.

While I love tasting global cuisine, nothing excites me more than a solid plate of Mexican food. There are tacos, enchiladas and of course margaritas—honestly what more could anyone want?

These following recipes will make sure that your next weekday dinner or weekend party is full of flavorful Mexican inspired food that will keep your bellies full and your spirits high. 

 Appetizers


Guacamole
One of the best things about guacamole is how simple it is to throw together and how many variations of it you can make. Like your avocado mash with lump crab? Add it! Like the crunch of corn? Throw it in there. One word of caution is that guacamole is meant to be served immediately or the avocados will begin to turn brown. If you want to make the recipe a little ahead of time, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole to minimize oxygen exposure, and store in the refrigerator for a maximum of two hours.
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Shrimp Ceviche

The process of making ceviche involves using the acid from citrus fruit to cure or “cook” seafood without applying any heat. This works beautifully with fresh fish, but shellfish like shrimp and scallops tend to have an unappealing texture as a result. To combat this, we’re giving the shrimp a quick blanch to cook most of the way through, then finishing the job in the citrus juices.
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Yucatan-Style Ceviche with Avocado

You’ll want to find the freshest fish of the highest quality available; look for sashimi-grade fish. Bass, snapper, grouper and halibut are all great choices. This is not the time to cut corners with bottled citrus juices. Buy your own limes and juice them — the difference is very noticeable.
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Grilled Pineapple Salsa

The sweetness and acidity of pineapple makes it a perfect partner for grilled meats, poultry and fish. Try this salsa on tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers or with your favorite seafood.
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Grilled Mexican Street Corn

Popular in Mexico City, this grilled corn on the cob gets its richness from a coating of mayonnaise, which is then used to affix salty cotija cheese to the surface. This is a fantastic side dish, but you could also follow the same recipe, cut the kernels from the cob, toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and use the resulting “salad” as a topping for hot dogs or tacos.
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Main Dishes 

Instant Pot Pork Green Chili

Where a red chili might have more of a robust, smoky flavor, green chili packs a bright, acidic punch from the tomatillos and is livened up even more by the addition of fresh cilantro. Using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker will cut the cook time significantly, making this a perfect weeknight meal.
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Tex-Mex Enchiladas with Chili Gravy
Across Texas, enchiladas are served filled with cheese and drowned in a piquant chili gravy. You can make this dish vegetarian by using vegetable oil instead of beef drippings or lard, and substituting vegetable broth for the beef broth.
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Roasted Chicken Chilaquiles

Known as the Mexican hangover cure, chilaquiles are essentially tortilla chips cooked in a spicy sauce, often studded with pulled chicken. While many versions of this dish exist, the most authentic method is to mash the sauce-covered chips into a paste, top with cheese, then finish in the oven. You can transfer the cooked vegetables from the skillet to a blender or food processor; however, it is even easier to use an immersion blender. Just be careful not to scrape the bottom of the skillet.
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Leftover Steak Nachos
Have some excess leftover steak on hand? Slice it up and make nachos! The nachos are only in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, so the steak runs little risk of overcooking. Using a combination of store-bought white cheese dip with shredded cheese helps coat all the tortilla chips with some type of cheese (even the ones hiding on the bottom) and provides a great contrast between creamy and melty. You can always cook these on a baking sheet, but we love to cook nachos in cast iron.
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Bourbon Lime Chicken Tacos

Bourbon can provide a potent kick to marinade, and this recipe will liven up your chicken with rich flavors that blend superbly with sweet honey and fresh lime juice. By adding a memorable zest to simple street tacos — topped off with diced onion, cilantro and lime — this bourbon-based dish is sure to become a fast favorite.
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Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos

For this dish, cauliflower florets are roasted at a high temperature, coated in a thick chipotle and garlic paste. Corn tortillas and charred poblano peppers help round out the tacos and give them a flavorful kick. Of course I couldn’t give up my salsa verde addiction, they’re best paired with the traditional Mexican salsa. A squeeze of lime ties all these flavors together and in 25 minutes tops, you have a mouthwatering meal that will keep you on track for Lent and afterwards. 
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Austin-Style Migas Tacos

Travel to Austin, Texas — the unofficial capital of breakfast tacos — and you’ll find a spicy tortilla and scrambled egg concoction known as migas. There are many different versions, but the best ones allow the tomatoes to cook down into a pulp, then cook the eggs in the sauce and add the cheese at the end. The result is a saucy scramble that begs to fill up a soft flour tortilla.
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Campfire Burritos

Burritos are such an easy food to prepare. Just load them with your favorite ingredients and you've got a whole no-fuss (and very little clean up) meal. For this recipe everything inside them is already cooked, they require no utensils or cooking equipment, and you can easily customize them to your liking. Just tightly wrap them in aluminum foil and throw them in the oven, on the grill or even in the embers of a camp fire until hot throughout.
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The cocktails


Classic Margarita

Having Mexican food followed by a sweet and tangy margarita is almost mandatory. Any margarita worth its salt should have fresh squeeze lime juice, simple syrup or agave nectar and a nice orange liqueur. This recipe accomplishes that and more. Just be sure to add ice. 
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Prickly Pear Margarita

The first sip of this libation has a touch of sweetness, quickly followed by a refreshing burst of tartness. Made with prickly pear syrup, freshly made sweet and sour mix and of course tequila, this is the margarita you'll want to rich for when you want to switch things up. 
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Grapefruit Margarita

If you truly want to elevate your margarita game, ditching the store-bought sour mix in favor of making your own is a great start! The sour mix will last for about ten days in the refrigerator.
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Frozen Strawberry Margaritas
What do you get when you add fresh strawberries, frozen limeade and tequila? Heaven. This bright fruit heavy cocktail is seriously delicious. Be careful though, too many of these and you'll need a siesta. 
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Author image

Ryan Shepard is the editor-in-chief at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously. 

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