Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

And Then There Was Spring: Grilled Beef Tacos

We shall then henceforth, and without any acute delay, boldly sally and declare that spring, with all of its heady promises, has now descended upon our fair landIMG_15721 that which is Minnesota. The snow is at last, and mercifully gone, and replaced now with fields of green. Say what you will, but this is no small thing, people. Lest you forget the winter of 2013/2014 that is. For the icy pangs of  it still sharply laden our frontal lobes, and we still remember vividly how eternal it spread. You southern folks may have whacked your lawns eleven and one times already, and daily fire up your air conditioning units for to thwart the beads of nasty sweat which dribble down your collective foreheads. But it is not like that here. Not yet. The air is still cool, and sweet to the taste.  We have yet to slap the first mosquito or pull the first weed. And the leaves and the grass and the other green things of the world, tho still in stark miniature, are no less hard at work, so much so, that you can almost hear them fiercely growing, in the silence of a sunbeam.

Spring, we do adore this time of year. Naturally one of the better things you can do in spring, is to BBQ. May is National Grilling Month after all. And to a Minnesotan, it would stand to reason that May is the very best month of the year. It’s just plain beautiful here. So on the pit today, we’re doing your basic taco really. Nothing too fancy. And I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, well why the heck doesn’t he just make his tacos on the kitchen stove then, like everybody else? The answer: I don’t want to! Let me explain.



As I repair here on the pit-side patio, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, enjoying the aromas of sizzling beef in a black iron pan, I try to reminisce how long it has been, by and far, that I could actually do such a thing like this: to tarry on the patio, watching supper cook, and not, when it is said and done, require medical attention for frostbite or mild hypothermia. To loiter aside the curling wood smoke in but a light flannel jacket, and muse over the green blades of grass yonder. It has been a while indeed. Too long, in point of fact. Counting backwards – April, March, February, January, December, November… Go ahead and count it. It’s six months people. Give or take the rare and freakish anomaly of a randomly placed warm day, it has been a half a year since it has been truly comfortable at the grill front. That kind of ain’t right. And this is why we patrons of the pit shall not any time soon, tend to our tacos over a thermostatically spoiled kitchen range. No no no!

After the ground beef is almost but not quite browned, we tossed onto the coals a handful of oak chips for an additional layer in the flavor profile. Oak wood is fantastic for red meat, lending a firm but friendly, mildly nutty, sort of smokey goodness to your end game. It’s very good. Anyways, we mixed in the taco seasoning with the beef, and pulled the black iron pan over indirect heat, put the lid on the pit, and let the meat smoke there for a while. Now is the time to assume your customary BBQ posture, as per the graces this kind of high leisure affords. Lovely beverage in hand, man chair under butt, and a quiet world of gently curling smoke in front of thee. This, a pit keeper comes to know, is all we need. We’re in no hurry folks. And good grilling should never be flanked by wretched tentacles of haste. Anyways, pull the lid and stir the taco meat very occasionally,  this in order to circulate more beef into the path of wafting oak smoke. The smoke, after all, is what will set these tacos apart from any you’ve ever had.


Whence the meat has browned sufficient to your standards, and the smokey goodness has infused your carefully prepared meat booty,  go forth and assemble thy taco as you will, with what you will. Rice, beans, peppers, cheese, tomatoes, onions, sour cream – what ever moves thee another step closer to your culinary ideal. We’re not done yet tho, nay, so hold on to your inner Mexican just a bit longer. Swaddled in a flour tortilla shell, place your spoils back on the pit, indirect, for the final step towards taco immortality. We’re looking to crisp up the shell a trifle here, and put on a few char marks, patron to the pit. This move will at once signature your taco, branding it if you will, a product of the smokey realm. And you will know it from the sound of your incisors piercing its soft, yet crispy shell, and by the flavorful, smoke-tinted spoils within.

Happy Grilling Month of May. Fire them up proudly, people, and tarry long where the wood smoke also rises. Amen.



Oak Smoked Grilled Beef Tacos. Man! Edible proof that what is good for the stove top is even better on the grill. Not to mention a whole lot more fun.

And yes, a bite was taken out of this photo op, for quality control reasons. You know how it goes.





32 responses

  1. M.D. Todorovich

    How I miss those flannel-clad days of spring! As for those of us patrons a bit further south (WV), the only time to enjoy the flannel is in the manner of my current situation: citronella candle burning and a Montecristo #1 to pass the time. I’m glad the cold has finally broke for you guys! But I’m one of the crazies who misses winter.

    Thanks for the post! It provided an enjoyable break from my daily routine.

    May 25, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    • Very nice. It’s rare to find folks it seems who appreciate a good frost. Sounds like you had some good ambiance brewing there tonight. Very nice indeed.

      Take care

      May 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm

  2. Looks good, guys! In Australia we are starting to get in to winter, and while it certainly will not snow, it’s almost at the point where things that can be cooked on the stovetop probably will

    May 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    • Sounds good Gusface. Even Australia has to get cold once in a while I guess. Even so, if we can grill at 20 below, surely you can handle an Australian winter!


      May 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    • Gus, PotP and I can attest, any time of the year is grilling time. Although, we were tested this year. I thought you were a little braver to your balmy winters…

      May 26, 2014 at 5:05 pm

  3. Crikey, you have to get some quality control going. It would never do to let something be cooked and photographed without having a nibble. Now if I were in charge of control you’d have to be darn quick about getting the photos. 😉 Great recipe PotP.

    May 25, 2014 at 11:57 pm

  4. I am always torn as to how to prioritise my comments in response to your posts. Your unique writing style and carefully crafted prose always deserves recognition, I want to pay homage to your mouth-watering cooking and then, there is often a reference, here and there to nature. Then lastly (and this is the topic which almost sees me frozen into a total catatonic state) there is the WEATHER! I have to admit that on this post, despite the fact that I have never eaten a taco and nearly jumped on a plane to come over and ask you to cook me one ( gorgeous! All branded with those charcoal grilled lines), it was the weather and the fact that you are only just marking the arrival of Spring which pushed that subject to the top of my list, knocking the other issues to the bottom of the pile for me.
    I barely get through our Winters without hitting despair and it only lasts from November to around February!
    Thank heavens for the fire, for the grill and your passion for it which helps to sustain you during the long Winter months. Creativity is born out of all kinds of situations and in this case, it seems as if your long Winter fires your passion to cook and write and share that with the rest of us.
    Together with many other of your followers, I count myself fortunate that you do.

    May 26, 2014 at 1:32 am

    • Karen, your comments are like little gold nuggets of inspiration. Like sunbeams and tweety birds. Like the cheese on my metaphoric blogging hamburger. I do enjoy them. They are at once a source of delight, and always, to the very last word, encouraging. Just like your blog over there. Indeed, I declare, the world is a better place because you’re in it. Blessings to you and yours. I love poking about your garden prose there.

      Many thanks,

      May 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

  5. Pingback: And Then There Was Spring: Grilled Beef Tacos-Reblog from Patrons of the Pit « LexaLovesFUNFASHIONFOOD

  6. Oh yes..year round here on the Central West Coast of FL (TampaBayArea) it is always BBGrill Time. Preferred not only for taste but to better enjoy the A/C that is blasting the air inside the house to a frigid cold in comparison to the outside wet Sauna that we now live in. I truly do not like the snow, except to look at. I have lived in it and it is no fun for moi! However the changing of the Seasons in places like Minnesota or Minasnowto, New York or Colorado (the last two places I lived and learned once again, I do not like the snow or cold) is oh so special. The natural air can be refreshed and does smell lovely! Wonderful article. I could smell the smoke! “;)

    May 26, 2014 at 6:29 am

    • Thanks much. Indeed, it seems there is something elementally lovely to embrace where ever we may hang our shingle. No place has it all, I don’t think. But every place has something.

      Many BBQ’s under fair skies to you. Thanks kindly!

      May 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

  7. You’re right! Most things “can” be cooked on the kitchen stove, but on a glorious day in spring, why would you “want” to!!! Nicely done!

    May 26, 2014 at 10:35 am

  8. Oh my gosh! They look mucho grande!

    May 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

    • Hi Rick! Yeah it was pretty good. But then, most things off the grill are. I’ve been grilling all weekend. and we’re about to head out to yet another BBQ. This lifestyle agrees with me I think.

      Happy Memorial Day, Rick.

      Be good!

      May 26, 2014 at 11:03 am

  9. Another Gem, fellas. Spring has got me in a poetic mood as well, perhaps I’ll get my flying fingers of fury moving this afternoon. Love that oak as well, it’s my go to choice for grill. Carry on!

    May 26, 2014 at 11:39 am

    • Thanks much. Agreed on the oak, especially for them patented tri tips.

      Yes I enjoy it when you get poetic too. What are you waiting for!

      May 26, 2014 at 12:04 pm

  10. Really a good thing that the snow is melted and werm temps have set in. Love the taco’s always an easy and delicious meal.

    May 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    • I know it. Dare I say we northern folk have an increased capacity to appreciate the warmer weather, having gone with out it do so long.

      May 26, 2014 at 3:40 pm

  11. Looks good PotP. Gotta go make dinner now. You made me hungry.

    May 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm

  12. Liz

    ah, but you wrote too soon as it is already summer and still May. Though I’m not complaining–bring on the heat, I say. My goal this summer is to do more out-of-the box grilling–taco meat in cast-iron and the like. You make it look so easy and I know the results are phenomenal. Thank you for bringing us another season of grilling 🙂

    May 26, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    • Well, this article, was written about two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, it was rather different around here still. Still freezing at night even. I hadn’t even mowed my lawn yet then. Seems like the humidity finally made it’s arrival this holiday weekend. just in time for the all the many BBQ’s first wafts of smoke.

      Enjoy the heat, Liz. You’ve certainly earned it! Fellow Minnesotans rejoice with you!

      May 27, 2014 at 8:34 am

  13. Reblogged this on Yubbie's Blog.

    May 27, 2014 at 12:44 am

  14. Nice work lads. Had a mexican night on the weekend, some smoky tacos would have gone down nicely. Here in New Zealand winter is approaching fast so time for the bbq to go into hibernation… who am I kidding, i’ve used a Weber in icy pouring rain before 🙂

    May 27, 2014 at 5:08 am

    • Liam, you had me going for a second there. “time for the BBQ to go into hibernation” I will choose to disregard that line of thinking, if you will. Indeed, a weber can hold a bed of glowing coals in a down pour, or below freezing, or driving gales – it matters not. A good pit is always up to the task. The only question is, is the pit master?

      Grill on old chap. May your wood smoke rise with impunity on the far side of the planet.


      May 27, 2014 at 8:29 am

  15. My friend – we are so glad that Spring has finally arrived there in the land of the frozen tundra! We made it as far north as Cleveland on our recent trip and were greeted by a freezing blizzard on April 15th as we de-boarded our plane in short-sleeved shirts! I hesitate to speculate on what the weather was like in the Twin Cities that day.

    Grill on and enjoy the beauty of Minnesota these next several months. You deserve it.

    May 27, 2014 at 8:05 am

    • Howdy John and Mary,

      Glad you got to visit your home land. Better yet that you were greeted by a Cleveland blizzard! It’s good for rekindling your memories, I reckon, concerning your homeland! Of what snow and cold felt like again. Probably also reminds you of why you moved to the equator.

      Anyways, thanks John and Mary. Now to grit through a Minnesota summer, with my BBQ at my side.

      May 27, 2014 at 8:19 am

  16. Today, I shall bravely go forth and whack my lawn for the eleven and 3rd time this year if the moisture from the heavens holds off. The heat is upon us, the ac kicks on and off multiple times an hour trying to maintain 78 degrees in the house. I’ve used up the remaints of last years bug spray in order to fend off the hummingbird-sized mosquitoes, but do not for one second think that I am sad to see winter gone and my smoking jacket put away until next fall. Bring on summer. Bring on meat cooked over fire. And bring on some of them tacos. They look great.

    May 28, 2014 at 8:42 am

    • Astutely put! And good to see you around these parts again. It has been a while. Hummingbird-sized mosquitoes…The heck you say! Summer grilling in Texas sounds equally as challenging as winter grilling in Minnesota.

      Take care!

      May 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      • Thanks. I had to take a break. Work was busy, life was busy and honestly I was just feeling burnt out. But I’m back, Baby!!

        May 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s