Homemade Crunchy Beef Tacos
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My halo is shiny enough for the moment. I just finished yet another mug of Healthnut Soup.
I was going to make Ground Beef Enchiladas for tonight, but then I thought of all that cheese. So, I settled on some good old comfort food in the form of Crunchy Beef Tacos. Yes, the tortillas are fried, but I use very little cheese and no sour cream.
These are absolutely awesome. My definition of a good taco is one that you can’t put down, once you’ve started eating it. The reason is not because you’re so ravenous (although I usually am), but because it will crumble and fall apart all over your plate if you dare to put it down between bites. Crunch is the word here.
If you’ve never made your own taco shells, you really need to try this. YOU WILL NEED TONGS. I really don’t know how you would make them, if you don’t own a pair of tongs.
If you don’t own tongs yet, you’ve got to get some. I have 4 or 5 pair, different lengths and sizes, and I use them constantly. Here’s a link for you on Amazon:
If you have little kids or pets, make sure they are out of the kitchen and your baby gates are locked.
Before I go further, I’ll share with you this amazing salsa that came from the Pioneer Woman. We occasionally give this away to several friends, and they all love it. It freezes fairly well, too, if you don’t use salsa that often. This recipe makes a huge amount of salsa, so you may want to halve it.
Restaurant Style Salsa
Prep: 10 Minutes Level: Easy
1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes with Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies)
1/4 cup Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)
1/2 whole Lime Juice
Note: this is a very large batch. I recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. I never buy Rotel, so I just combine diced tomatoes with some canned mild green chilies.
Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.
(Or on tacos. Or burritos. Or nachos. Or eggs.)
Awesome Crunchy Beef Tacos
7% Ground Beef
Chopped Tomato, optional
Guacamole or chopped Avocados
Sour Cream, optional
Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend (or Queso Fresca)
Salsa or Hot sauce or both
Icy cold Mexican beer with lime (optional)
I keep my guacamole very simple. I just mash an avocado or two, throw in a bit of salsa and sour cream, taste for salt, and add a squirt of lime, if I feel like it. Then I cover the guacamole with plastic wrap, so that it lays tightly on the top surface of the guacamole. Then refrigerate. The plastic wrap against the guacamole with keep it from turning brown.
Chop your onion, and cook it in a large skillet in some canola oil on medium low heat, until soft. Add ground beef and turn up heat, to medium high. When cooked through, add taco seasoning and water and cook down, until it’s a nice consistency.
Personally, I have yet to find a homemade taco seasoning that I like. I’ve kind of given up, so I just buy the packets.
Heat a separate, small skillet to medium high. The one in the photos is an 8 inch cast iron one – great for pan frying. You can use a larger pan, but it will just require more oil. Here’s a Lodge 8 inch skillet on Amazon – it’s great for baking cornbread in, too, and it comes pre-seasoned! What a steal!
Fill this smaller skillet with about an inch of canola oil. Make sure you don’t fill your skillet more than half full! It shouldn’t bubble up that much, while you’re cooking your taco shells, but better safe than sorry! To test the heat of the hot oil, take a wooden spoon and insert the handle into the oil, touching the bottom. Immediately bubbles should rise up the wooden handle. You want a temperature of about 365°.
One time, I was making crunchy tacos. After cooking the taco meat, I covered it, so the meat wouldn’t dry out. I had heated my oil, and thought I’d check on the meat, to see if it was sticking to the bottom or needed more water. When I lifted up the lid, the condensation dripped into the hot oil!! Oil went flying all over my kitchen but, luckily, not all over me. I am working very hard these days, not to ever mix water and oil – it is nothing to mess with!
Heat your oven to 200°.
Line a pie plate with several paper towels, and put in oven, to heat.
Put your serving plates in the oven to warm.
Prepare all of your condiments and sides in advance. If you put your beer glasses in the freezer, it will stay icy cold. Yum.
Let oil heat for about 10 minutes, while you get all your ducks in a row. Ask someone to set the table.
Using your tongs, take a corn tortilla and lay it flat, in the hot oil.
After one or two seconds, gently grab the edge of the tortilla. Fold over the top of the tortilla and pull the folded tortilla toward you, so that the tortilla is against the side of the pan.
Hold the tortilla in place for a few seconds, trying to hold it open, so you have plenty of room for your fixings.
Now, when the tortilla has cooked enough to be slightly crisp, take the tongs and put them in the middle, holding the taco shell open.
With the tongs, now turn the taco shell over, so that it browns on the other side.
When you’ve got the color you want (I like them super crispy, but that’s up to you), grab another paper towel. Remove the crispy taco shell from the hot fat, holding it over the pan to drain. Then open the oven door. Place the taco on a piece of paper towel (so you don’t drip any oil), and transfer the cooked taco shell to the preheated pie plate that’s in your oven.
Repeat with the rest of the tortillas.
That’s it. It sounds more complicated than it is. And I do promise you, these will be the best tacos, hands-down, that you have ever had.
No soggy bottoms!
There’s one little thing I don’t love about this dinner. After cooking the tortillas, my house smells like a taqueria, which is not exactly my eau de choice. My kids turned me on to this cool diffuser they got from Amazon. All I do is pour in a bit of distilled water, along with my favorite essential oil. A cool steam comes out and fills the room with lemon, or lavender, or whatever you choose. I liked it so much that I bought two more, just to spread the love. With two smelly labs, these do help with the doggy aroma that I’m sure assaults anyone who walks into the house.