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Kevin Miller wrote from Fort Wayne, IN:

> please help.. I'm looking for a VERY authentic taco seasoning recipe..
> I've tried many off the 'net but they ALL seem to taste like a typical
> package mix. Please help! Thank you group...

Here's the most authentic recipe I've seen. It's from a now-defunct site
called "Taqueria Tech." I mourn its passing, but I was lucky enough to
capture all the recipes before it went away:

Shredded Beef
The first thing I do when trying a new Mexican restaurant is ask if the
quesadillas are made with flour tortillas and if the tacos are made with
shredded beef. If the answer to either is "no", I am immediately suspect of
the nature of the food. A "yes" reply does not mean that you can immediately
verify the nationality of the cook. However, it is a general clue that
usually indicates that you may order with confidence. My recipe for shredded
beef was discovered by pure accident and I thought I had stumbled across an
ancient Aztec secret. Only quite recently I have learned that, in Mexico, it
is very common to cook with pickled vegies. This method may, at first, seem
a bit unorthodox, but it yields a spicy beef which is perfect for tacos,
enchiladas, burritos, tamales, or even as a cold snack! The pureed extra
vegies are the essence of one version of enchilada sauce, and may be used
with the meat to make great 'ladas or frozen for use another day. This
recipe makes about 20 large tacos. To make more, increase all the
ingredients in equal proportions.

2 1/2 lbs. rump or any other beef cut
6 oz beer [drink the rest]
6 oz Coke
1 11 1/2 oz jar of hot garden vegetables
1 1/2 cups of homemade pickled vegetables [verduras escabeche]
with 1/2 cups of the pickling liquid
3 or 4 dried California or pasilla chilies
1 peeled orange [optional]
1/2 Tbsp. California chili powder
1/8 tsp cumino
1/8 tsp oregano
4 [or more] crushed garlic cloves
Don't be afraid to use fatty meat. Since it will be cooked beyond
recognition, the fat can be removed later and will add to the flavor and
texture while it cooks. Prepare the chilies by roasting them over an open
flame or on a grill, just until they begin to brown. Then soak them,
completely covered in hot water, for about 20 minutes or until they are soft
and pliable. When they are ready, gently slit them down one side, rinse out
the seeds, and lay them flat open on a paper towel. Don't rub your eyes as
your hands are now lethal weapons! Cut the beef into quarters [not too small
or they will be difficult to shred] and put all the stuff in a large pot and
stir it up. The orange adds a definite sweetness which you may or not want.
If you like it and are ever stuck for an orange use 1/2 cup of orange juice.
This combination creates a very spicy filling which probably will not call
for extra salsa if used in tacos. You can cut back on the bite by
eliminating the dry spices. Add enough beer or water to just barely cover
the surface of the meat. Lay the soft chilies over the top of the meat
chunks and bring the pot to a rapid boil. Tightly cover the pot, lower the
heat and simmer about 2 hours. If you are planning other dishes for the
menu, you can work on them while the beef is cooking. Preheat the oven to
350o. Remove the cooked meat and place it on a large cookie sheet, reserving
the liquid and vegetables. With two forks shred the meat and arranged it
neatly on the sheet so it will bake evenly. Ladle some of the cooking liquid
onto the tray and place it in the oven. Bake the meat, turning it once, for
about 1/2 hour. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. The sugar in the Coke
will serve to gently brown the meat and make it slightly crisp. In the
meantime, continue with the preparation of the final cooking liquid. Strain
and reserve the cooking liquid from the vegies. Remove the orange and
peppers [these are usually jalapeņos, and you can leave them in if you want
a rosy red maņana]. Puree the vegies with a bit of the liquid and then
return 1/2 of the puree back into the remaining liquid. Save the remaining
1/2 puree for enchilada sauce. When the meat is a deep brown, return it to
the liquid/puree mixture and cook it down until it is almost dry. Keep a bit
of the juice which makes the meat easier to reheat. Keep the shredded beef
covered in a warm oven until it is ready to use for whatever you what. The
exception is enchiladas. Since the enchiladas have to be cooked anyway, it
is best to let the beef cool before you try to handle it for stuffing the

Verduras Escabeche
If you prefer to custom design your own pickled vegetables you will
instantly become a master of verduras escabeche, which translates to
"pickled vegetables." Now, knowing this does not yet make you a master. What
elevates you to master status is the type and number of chilies you use--
and if you really leave them in while cooking the meat. It is exactly for
this reason that I suggest you try making your own at least once. The basic
advantage for me is that commercial brands do not include the red pasilla or
New Mexico chilies. If you pickled them with the mix they add more to the
flavor and can be left out of the rest of the recipe if you wish. The
process is to cook any choice of pickles, vegetables and chilies with
distilled vinegar. Seal them in a jar and let it sit as long as you wish.
The amount of each ingredient is dependent on your preference and the size
of seal jar you have. My choice of ingredients a
1/4 inch slices of carrots
1/4 inch slices of dill pickles
1/2 inch slices of cauliflower
large slices of white onion
New Mexico and or pasilla chilies
whole jalepeno or serano chilies
bay leaf
white vinegar
Slice open the red chilies and gently remove the seeds and veins. Take care
not to rip or shred the peppers at this point. Place all the ingredients in
a pot and add enough vinegar to half cover. Bring the vinegar to a boil and
then simmer for about 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool and then place it all
in a air-tight, sealed jar. If the vegies are not completely covered, add
more vinegar.