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Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

It’s Taco Time!

When I’m tired of pasta and am looking for something quick and for which I can obtain all the necessary ingredients at the little market across the street, tacos are a go-to choice.  They’re easy to prepare, easy to eat, infinitely customizable and thoroughly satisfying.  I normally never use prepared foods – why eat someone else’s when you can make your own?  Tacos are an exception.  This is almost certainly the only time I’ll recommend incorporating a prepared food (assuming you don’t include dried pasta which, with some sauces is really better than fresh) into a recipe.

Recipe

1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 jar of your favorite salsa (the one and only prepared ingredient)
taco shells and/or tortillas (about 2 dozen taco shells or somewhat fewer tortillas depending on size and how much filling you like to use)
fixings (I like shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes, my husband also like chopped onions and sour cream – the great thing is we can each have them just how we like them and so can you!)
salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder (all optional)

Put the meat in a skillet.  Cook stirring frequently and breaking up chunks until no pink remains.  Pour in the salsa (you may want to start with 1/2 – 3/4 of the jar on the theory that you can add more, but it’s not so easy to take excess out).  Simmer over moderate heat until the mixture is pretty thick.  Basically, you want to be able to eat it without a lot of liquid dripping out and getting all over you.  If you think you can do that, it’s thick enough.  It usually takes 15-30 minutes depending on the consistency of your salsa and how much you used.  Taste it.  If it’s not tasty enough, add a bit more salsa.  I find some kinds of salsa result in a weaker flavor in the meat.  You’ll often want a little more salt.  If you want a little more heat you can add some cayenne pepper.  If you want a little bit more depth of flavor, try adding some chili powder.

While the meat is cooking, prepare your fixings: shred cheese (you’ll probably want about 1 tbs. shredded cheese/taco), shred lettuce, dice tomatoes and onions, etc.  If you want to warm up your shells or tortillas, do that now, as well (follow the heating instructions on the package).

I like to just put the meat and all the fixings out and let everyone assemble their own tacos just how they like them.

Notes

Total time: 30-45 minutes
Active time: 30-45 minutes
Shopping/ingredients:

  • I find I prefer cooked salsas to uncooked and I prefer fairly strongly flavored salsas.  I’d recommend using a red salsa over a green salsa, and you’ll probably find more traditional tomato & chili salsas are better than some of the fruitier concoctions (I think that mango-pomegranate-black bean salsa with roasted garlic and lime that you’ve been eying might taste a little weird).
  • I actually like iceberg over other lettuces for this purpose.  It stays more crisp than other lettuces and provides a nice cool complement.
  • If you don’t eat red meat, you could certainly experiment with using ground turkey or chicken.  With chicken I might actually try a tomatillo-based (green) salsa.
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