Before I moved out to California I had a very different impression of Mexican food, specifically tacos, a family favorite when I was growing up. We often had tacos for dinner, but we were eating what I later learned was the “Americanized taco”, U-shaped crispy corn shells filled with ground beef (seasoned with a packet of taco seasoning) and topped with cheese, salsa, black olives, tomatoes, cheese and sometimes sour cream: essentially a homemade “supreme” taco from Taco Bell. They were/are delicious. But my wife (then girlfriend) tried to convince me that my idea of tacos was completely wrong. She told me that “traditional” tacos were only meat, onions and cilantro. It was the one and only time she’s ever been right.
8 (4″) corn tortillas
1/2 lb meat (chicken/turkey breast, ground beef, pork tenderloin, tofu, etc…)
1 cup beans (whole, refried or peanut butter refried)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
cumin, chili powder and paprika
kosher salt, or other coarse salt
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican, cotija)
1/2 cup spicy salsa
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup canned black olives, sliced
1/2 cup peaches or mango, chopped
lettuce or cabbage, shredded
green onions (scallions), chopped< Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil and place 4 corn tortillas on each. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove trays, flip the tortillas, and place the cheese down the middle, if using. Place back in the oven for 3-4 minutes.
2. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces or chunks. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the meat. Add the cumin, chili powder and paprika in a ratio of about 2:2:1 to taste, but the more the merrier. Add salt and cayenne or chipotle pepper powder to taste. Cook the meat, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes until browned and cooked through.
3. Remove the tortillas from the oven and top with meat, beans and cilantro. Add additional toppings (my favorites are cheese, salsa, sour cream, black olives and peaches).
4. If you’ve never had this type of taco before you might want to take a seat first, prepare to be blown away.
This is a great meal that you can almost always have on hand. I always keep dried or canned beans on hand, corn tortillas in the cabinet (they last for a while) and usually have salsa and cheese around. You can also omit the meat for a bean taco, you might not even notice the difference.