Its easy to overlook something as simple as beef tacos when planning your weekly menu. Or to just throw it on there as an afterthought for a quick and easy dinner. Ground beef, taco seasoning, and store-bought shells. Done and done. To be honest, that has never really been one of my favorite dinners, and I don't know when the last time I bought taco shells was. If I'm going to cook Mexican food, I'm making chicken enchiladas, quesadillas, or burritos. Well, now I'll be adding these tacos to my favorite Mexican meals. The whole time we were eating I just kept saying over and over again how good they were.
The secret of these tacos lies in the homemade seasoning and the home-fried taco shells. I've been making my own taco seasoning for quite some time now, but the spices and seasonings used here were pretty much perfect. I'll also never buy a taco shell again now that I have this recipe. Yes, it was a little time consuming, and I hate to say that its worth it, since I know everyone has different limits, but well, they were worth it. Crunchy on the outside, with a little chewiness inside. Once you get the hang of shaping them it goes quite quickly, and I really don't mind just mentally checking out for a bit at the end of a long day. It was actually a little therapeutic. The shells can also be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven, which makes these tacos ideal for entertaining.
I'm listing the toppings I used, but feel free to mix them up or add whatever suits your tastes. Sliced jalapenos, salsa, black olives, or guacamole would all be great as additional toppings as well.
One Year Ago: Garlicky Oven Fries and Mango-Banana Daiquiris
Ground Beef Tacos
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
makes 12 tacos
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1/2 Tbs minced fresh oregano
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 pound 90% lean (or leaner) ground beef
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 4 ounces shredded cheese(about 1 cup)
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 2 tomatoes, chopped small
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped (2/3 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- hot pepper sauce
Add tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and set aside to keep warm.
Meanwhile, fry the shells. Heat oil in an 8-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees, about 5 minutes. You can test by dropping a small piece of tortilla into the oil. It should bubble and the tortillas should rise to the surface within 2 seconds. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.
Using tongs to hold the tortilla, slip half the tortilla into the oil. With a metal spatula in the other hand, hold the tortilla in the oil, at a 90 degree angle to the top half. Fry until just set but not brown, about 30 seconds.
Flip the tortilla, and hold it open about 2 inches while keeping the bottom half submerged in oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip again and fry the other side until golden brown, about 30 seconds.
Transfer shells to the baking sheet and lay upside down to drain. Repeat with remaining shells.
When all the tortillas have been fried, divide the filling evenly among the shells. Serve immediately, passing the topping separately.