Americanized Mexican food (aka tex-mex) is a crowd pleaser. Also, if you ignore the generous dollops of cheese usually involved, it’s a very balanced (and kinda healthy) meal option, covering meats, veggies & beans. There’s something in it for everybody. And if you have picky eaters in your family, like we do, deciding what to cook is no easy task. Which is why we love the easy customization that tex-mex offers.
While the additional condiments (like beans & veggies) are commonly found, the spices required take some effort. Which is why we prefer ready seasoning packets for that authentic (as authentic as tex-mex can be) flavor. And yes, you can look at the labels and re-create your own at home, but when the work’s already done for you, why refuse? That being said, we do prefer powdered seasonings over sauce-based ones; it makes a huge difference in the freshness of the meal.
The most popular brand for tex-mex food is Old El Paso. Ignore the claims all brands make of being authentic Mexican, they’re really not, even if they’re covered with cute cacti and sombreros. Old Paso is the market leader for products like taco shells, seasoning mixes & ready-made condiments like salsa, guacamole and the like. And having tried most of their products, we can safely recommend them if you’re not sure where to start.
However, we’ve returned disappointed from the supermarket on one too many occasions when looking for our friend Old Paso, he’s been playing hard to buy and we can’t stand it. What we find instead, is this bright new kid on the shelf called Casa Fiesta that seems to be everywhere, demanding our attention with its flashy red packaging. Both of them are from Texas. And while we love our Paso, we decide to give in. Anyone who’s motto is “Because flavor should never take a siesta” deserves a chance (we love our cheesiness, both literally and figuratively).
In a bid to get a somewhat comprehensive idea about their products, we try their Taco Dinner Kit, which includes a powdered seasoning, a taco sauce and taco shells.
As instructed, we microwave the taco shells to warm them. Not recommended. Pop them in the oven instead for a few minutes. Microwaving makes them slightly lose their crunchiness.
In the meantime, we add the seasoning mix to 500g of minced chicken. The kids slowly start drifting into the kitchen, following the aroma that has now spread around the house. We feel a bit Pied Piperish. We don’t want to steal any kids though, just feed them. We love feeding people our mixed & boxed food and having them rave about it so we can pretend we’re really good cooks. And kids have much lower standards given their McDonalds-fied taste buds, so they’re good for the ego.
While the chicken cooks, we prepare all the veggies we want to add. We slice some lettuce & olives, chop tomatoes, chilis & jalapenos and add some sweet corn.
The chicken seems almost cooked, so we stir it a little. Add a little cajun spice to our sour cream. Everything’s all set. Chicken’s now cooked, and all the fillings are ready.
We open the taco sauce tin.. and we really wish we hadn’t. It looks like it died & went to salsa hell, and tastes like it too.
Luckily we have some homemade salsa in our fridge, so potential dry-taco disaster is averted. Taco shells are prepped, filled with the chicken mince (about 1/3 of the shell filled).
Veggies are added, salsa drizzled and lastly they’re topped with the sour cream.
If you’re good with cutting up the veggies, the entire meal shouldn’t take you more than 15 mins.
The taco seasoning was so good. It had the perfect balance of spices and aromas to make for some very juicy chicken. The tacos, having been oven-toasted, had regained their crunchiness and were pretty much standard. That sauce however, we don’t even want to write about it. Our advice? Get the taco seasoning mix and your favorite taco shells, you don’t need the dinner kit. However, if you don’t have any preference for the shells, buy the kit and toss out the taco sauce. Replace it with salsa, or any other dressing you prefer.
Where to buy: Available at major Carrefour & Al Maya stores.
Would you buy this product, or do you have a trusted recipe for taco seasoning that you’d like to share? Do let us know in the comments below!