Backyard Canadian Tacos

What do you get if you cross a campfire cooking enthusiast with a suburban Canadian stuck at home during a pandemic craving some southern-spiced fare?

Maybe …you get an experimental campfire taco recipe.

After grilling up the vegetable platter that would become a fire-roasted homemade salsa, I kept the fire stoked for some marinated flank steak that served for some makeshift pseudo-barbacoa filling for my Saturday supper plans.

The Marinade

1 little lime juiced
1 medium lemon juiced
6 glugs of olive oil
1 dollop of salt
1 nudge of ground chipotle chiles

I mixed all that together in a bowl, emulsifying the oils with the citrus, and poured it over the steak to marinate.

The meat and marinade rested for a ninety minutes before I got down to the business of cooking it low and slow over a bed of campfire coals.

The result was delicious.

The meat was seasoned enough as to not overpower the flavours of the salsa or roasted peppers I’d added, but held its own sliced thin and wrapped into toasted shells.

Next time I may go with a thinner cut of meat as bringing up the internal temperature over the hot campfire coals left a bit of a drier, chewier crust to form on the outside.

And folks who like spicy food will definitely want to amp up the pepper or chili quantity in their own version.

All ’round, not a bad Mexican-style substitute for a Canadian backyard lockdown, and a taco recipe I will be building on and from as the summer rolls on.

Campfire Salsa

I’ve been looking for an excuse to break away from the purely carnivore approach I’ve thus far taken with my backyard firepit culinary experimentation.

I may like my fire-grilled meats, but I’ve also had some great vegetarian fare that partook of the smoke and flame. And here I’m thinking well-beyond the starches like wrapping a potato in some aluminum foil to sit in the hot coals or pan-frying some mushrooms atop the heat. Both are excellent, of course, but I was hoping to branch out and be a little more adventurous.

Inspiration struck from a variety of sources, but the mere notion of getting some peppers over a bed of charcoal got ramped up to a full-blown idea when a Youtuber I watch spun up a wicked salsa recipe over the fire in his backyard.

A trip to the local grocer found me with the following fresh ingredients:

4 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 head of garlic
1 medium white onion
1 large spicy pepper
1 sweet yellow bell pepper
2 limes
1 bag of locally made tortilla chips

The Roast-ening

The ultimate plan was to cook up some seasoned flank steak that could be chopped up as a kind of psuedo-barbacoa taco filling and to make a full meal centred around that same theme. The salsa would be the side dish and filler, and a necessary one for tacos some might say.

I got a fire ready and let the wood burn down for a good hour before I dared put any actual food on it. I’ve learned some tough lessons over the last month when it comes to being too anxious to get your grub on the flames.

I will admit I got a little cautious with my yellow pepper and pierced the skin with a knife as it sat among the other sizzling veggies. The bell pepper seemed to have a life of its own, rocking to and fro on the cast iron grills. I’d just watched a video last night about food bursting explosively from overheating so I was feeling nervous as my blackening pepper seemed to hiss and crackle over the coals.

Fire roasting vegetables, by the way, smells amazing. I didn’t think I’d notice much, but the heat brought out the scents of the garlic and the onions and the tomatoes as I hovered nearby tending and turning them. Yum!

When it was all done I brought them inside to cool and finish the preparation.

(Garlic stays really hot, I will tell you. Even after ten minutes when I accidentally touched the core of the garlic stem I burned the tip of my finger!)

Char scraped, seeds scrapped, and stems sidelined, all the good roasted bits went into the food processor with some salt. I squeezed the roasted limes in too, and even put in a bunch of the pulp which flowed eagerly out of the rind. Pulse blend magical.

Result… a mild and delicious salsa.

Were I not cooking for a spice-hesitant family, and were I not (surprise!) allergic to jalapenos I may have spiced it up a few notches. I like my spice but the fam does not. The flavour, though, makes up for the lack of spicyness … and you could, of course, add as much spice as you wanted to bring up the temperature.

My only mistake was not doubling the recipe and jarring some of the extra.