Make Your Own Mexican Seasoning
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
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In my experience, Norwegian-Americans don’t know much about spices so I can’t claim to be an expert. But with a Spanish-originating name like Carmen, I’m willing to give it a try 🙂
Completely off-topic side comment:
Did you know that the opera “Carmen” is actually written in French not Spanish? It was written by Georges Bizet, who was a French composer. Bizet died just a few short months after the first performance of the opera, never knowing his music would become world-renowned.
I tinkered with this recipe for a couple of reasons. One is of course, that I like having spices and mixes on hand for last-minute meal preparations. Having to drive to the store for a package of seasoning uses more in gas money than the actual mixture costs!
I also like real food. While there are some spice mixtures that contain only simple, basic ingredients, there are some out there that contain preservatives, anti-caking products, and even occasionally MSG or similar substances. My sister is sensitive to MSG so it’s something I’m cautious about.
This Mexican seasoning recipe requires quite a few ingredients, but I’m guessing most you’ll have on hand already. The only that might be a struggle is the paprika (or chili powder if you use that version) as it requires more than just a small spice container. We are fortunate that we have a independent market in our little town that sells spices in bulk. (Just be sure when you pick up cayenne, that it isn’t 3X cayenne … live and learn by Papa’s mistake 🙂 !!) We take in our empty containers, they weigh the container when we walk in and again when we leave. Often it costs us just pennies to fill it – versus $2-3 in the grocery store.
Flour is used in the spice mixture to help thicken the sauce and make it cling to the meat better. If you have gluten sensitivities you should be able to substitute arrowroot, cornstarch, or any other type of thickener.
Several years ago, we discovered Better Than Bouillon products. Most bouillon is way too salty for our tastes, and we like the fact that they have lower sodium options. However, it should be noted that some of their varieties do contain naturally-occurring MSG (as “yeast extract”) or added MSG, if that is a concern. Better Than Bouillon is a thick paste that is added to boiling water or stock and mixed until it basically becomes broth. Once opened, this product requires refrigeration which is why I recommend adding it directly to the meat when cooking instead of adding to dry mixture. That way the dry mixture is still shelf-stable.
The following recipe lists ingredient quantities for a single batch, which makes enough for 1-2 pounds of meat. It’s perfect trial size to see if you like the flavors or if you need to reduce / boost the amount of pepper for spiciness. After each ingredient in parenthesis, is listed the amount needed to quadruple the recipe. This is what I make most often as it doesn’t take any more effort to measure out 4 times the quantity when you already have the ingredients already out and organized.
We mostly use this seasoning recipe to make hamburger into taco meat, that we then use in soft-shell tacos, quesadillas or burritos. It can also be used on chicken or pork – or whatever you wish! I’ve found it best to use a little less of the spice mixture on the “white” meats, as they don’t need as much for the strong flavors to come through.
Do you have any meal ideas you have for using this seasoning mix? We’d love some new suggestions!
- Single batch (Quadrupled)
- 2 Tbsp flour (8)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp paprika (10)
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano (6)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion (6)
- 1 1/4 tsp salt (5)
- 1 tsp beef bouillon (see note #2) (4)
- 1/4 tsp sugar (1)
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (5-6)
- 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder (5)
- 3/4 tsp onion powder (3)
- 1 1/4 tsp cumin (5)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Place in a covered container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
For every pound of meat, use 1 - 2 Tbsp of seasoning mixture, 1 tsp beef bouillon (see note #2) and 1/2 cup water. Add to meat such as beef, pork or chicken and cook over low heat for 15 min, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary during cooking.
If using a powdered bouillon, add to the dry spice mixture at the time of mixing. If using a refrigerated bouillon product, add directly to the meat mixture at the time of cooking. Do not use both! It will make the spice mixture too salty.
Pre-made chili-powder can be used if a reasonably priced source can be found (watch the ingredient list!). In that case, substitute 2 tsp of chili powder (6) and reduce the paprika by 1 Tbsp (down to 1.5 Tbsp) and reduce the cayenne, cumin and garlic powder by 1/4 tsp (down to 1 tsp).