I came home last night in the middle of a freak snowstorm, but didn’t care because I knew a quick stop at Wegman’s would be worth the slushy bullshit I’d have to drive through later just to get home. I wanted tacos, and no amount of snow was gonna stop that from happening. You already know how I feel about tacos. They’re my little pieces of heaven in a cruel and cold dog-eat-dog world. Tacos…are everything.
These tacos are completely homemade. No kits. No seasoning packets. No boxed taco shells — which I’d still eat, but only in a pinch. There’s nothing better than frying your own corn tortillas for a taco, and this method I learned makes life so much easier. It takes just a few minutes to fry up the taco shells, and the crunch they provide is out of this world. These tacos are perfect — no orange grease running down your arm, perfectly seasoned, just hands down delicious.
Once you make these, you won’t bother with the box kits…nothing beats the taste of homemade. Plus, you’ll feel so special knowing that you prepared these entirely by hand…its a rewarding feeling lol.
saute your onions
then add the seasoning and mix around until well combined, for about a minute
then add your ground beef….break it up
make sure all of the pink is out, about 5 minutes
as soon as all the pink is out, add the tomato sauce, chicken stock, vinegar and brown sugar
let it simmer over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes
10 minutes later, still too wet…
about 20 minutes later, perfect! still moist but not runny and sloppy
fry your taco shells and season w/ a little salt to taste *see note below*
build your tacos and enjoy
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
For the Beef Filling:
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 1 small onion, chopped small (about 2/3 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (or leaner — don’t use 80/20 because it’ll be too greasy)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
For the Shells:
- 8 to 12 6-inch corn tortillas
- Canola oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced tomatoes or salsa
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
- Guacamole or avocado chunks
- Whatever you want — it’s your taco!
For the beef filling:
- Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. I added hot sauce to my mixture, but you don’t have to. Make sure you taste it before you serve it up!
For the taco shells (see photos below):
- In a small shallow pan, heat about 1 to 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees. Hold one end of each tortilla with tongs, and hold down the other end with a heat-proof spatula in the oil until it sets up, about 10 to 15 seconds. Switch positions and fry the other side until you get a somewhat perfect shell, then repeat on the other side again until it’s evenly crisp. They won’t be 100% perfect, but they’ll be delicious! If you don’t have a thermometer to test the temperature of your oil, just tear off a piece of a tortilla and put it in the hot oil — if it floats after a few seconds (about 5) it’s ready. If it doesn’t float at all, it’s not hot enough — and if it burns immediately, its too hot!
- Drain each shell on paper towels and season with salt while they’re still very hot.
NOTE: photos to illustrate the process…