Back in the day when my children were pre-teens, “Grandma” found a recipe in the newspaper called “Taco Mountain.” Grandma is Mick’s mom, Ruth Roberts. And Ruth Roberts has done one thing very well since I’ve known her now for 28 years – she feeds large groups of people and doesn’t really get anxious about the prospect. At all.
Case in point: A tradition at the Roberts’ home on the 4th of July is to barbeque a large portion of meat and have lots of people over to enjoy the day together. I’m not talking ten or twenty pounds of meat, folks…I’m talking one hundred, 150 or even close to 200 pounds of meat. But that’s another story for another day. Back to Taco Mountain…
Basically this “recipe” is simply instructions to make a large amount of ingredients we in the South or Midwest generally see together on a plate when having tacos, and then let everyone just build their own. Hers called for shredded lettuce, seasoned taco meat, rice, chopped tomatoes, etc.
Some families have “build your own nachos” bar, or something else very similar. But since the time of the first serving of Taco Mountain at Grandma’s house in Jenks, Oklahoma, our own family also adopted the tradition. And, since our normal Sunday evening dinner was going to include extra guests last night, “Taco Mountain” became the evening choice for service.
Our Taco Mountain has morphed, evolved and changed quite a bit since our first time at Grandmas. And YOUR Taco Mountain could look completely different than ours. But in case you’ve not tried this particular approach to serving guests before, I’ll share OUR approach to give you a starting point. Who KNOWS where your own creativity will lead you!?
Taco Mountain, al la the Mick and Kelly Roberts Family Approach
- Make seasoned ground or shredded beef. We use local organic beef, and I simply use McCormick low-sodium taco seasoning. I usually double the recipe and use two packets for large crowds.
- You can also include chicken or pork. Last night I made the pork I created for a recipe contest called “Tacos Burachos.” I love that recipe. Here is the link if you’d like to check it out. I love the tang from the tequila and lime mixed with the smoke of the chipotle tomatoes.
- Homemade guacamole: Smash four ripe avocados; mince 2/3 of a medium or 1/2 of a large onion; chop two large tomatoes, juice one lemon. Gently stir all ingredients together, then add sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. You can also add chopped jalapenos or cilantro if you wish.
- Chop a bunch of cilantro. Also…chop up about three or four tomatoes.
- Set out shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and any kind of salsas you like. I also make a homemade tomatillo sauce like the one in this post. We used it last night as well.
- Warm up some canned black beans. My daughters like them seasoned with taco seasoning as well. I used two cans last night.
- Make rice if you wish. Add a bit of olive oil, chopped cilantro and lime juice after it’s cooked if you want it to taste like Qdoba’s rice. We omitted the rice last night because the pork already had brown rice included.
- Make some sort of shredded lettuce mixture. Last night I used bib lettuce, red leaf lettuce and homegrown spinach tossed together after chopping.
- Add roasted veggies if you’d like. My blend was: two yellow squash, two zucchini squash, one onion sliced thinly, 1/2 large red bell pepper sliced thinly, and five garlic cloves, sliced thinly. I tossed it all with about 1/4 olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasted them at 425F for about 45 minutes.
- Well, there are a few other things such as pickled jalapenos or Louisiana Sauce…but I think you get the idea, right?
- And finally…1, 2, 3 or more bags of tortilla chips. We use blue, white, whole grain…or whatever strikes us for the particular day.
So, I suppose the trick to pulling off Taco Mountain is simply to follow these three rules: 1) keep the warm ingredients warm until serving, 2) keep the cold ingredients cold until serving; and, 3) make sure your guests know THEY have clean-up duty. Or, maybe that #3 is just mine when I’m feeding my children and their friends.
What does the spread look like? Check out the photo below. What does it taste like? It depends upon who is piling the components onto their plate. We had eight guests last night, and eight varieties of Taco Mountain. However, according to reports, all “climbers” conquered their mountain, or most of it, and for those who couldn’t quite eat all they put on their plate? Well, Tonks had a really nice dinner too.