Taco Night Gets Even Better
Taco Night has always been a family favorite, then I found a secret ingredient that took my tacos to a whole new level. Oh sure, my tacos were passible back when all I used was the commercial taco seasonings, but they were nothing special.
In search of the perfect taco, I've tried several homemade taco seasoning mixes. Alton Brown, the thoroughly entertaining host of the TV program Good Eats, has a decent taco mix recipe posted on the Food Network. In a family taste-test we all agreed that it wasn't as spicy and interesting as we wanted. Some versions add tomatoes- which I like. And other versions add thickening agents- which I don't like. After several months of testing tacos, a task that my family didn't seem to mind at all, we found the taco version that we believe is the Best Beef Tacos.
The key ingredient for great tacos is quality chile powder. This tip came from a fellow sailer, Christy aboard the catamaran Zia. She buys her chile powder strait from the source - New Mexico. I took her advice and ordered my chile powder from her favorite supplier at New Mexico Connection.com. When the large bag of deep red powder arrived, I wondered how I would ever use it all. It turns out that beyond tacos, there are a lot of great uses for chile powder. All you need is quality chile powder.
The Best Beef Tacos
- 2 pounds ground beef 90% lean
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mild red chile powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 16 corn tortillas or warmed taco shells
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
- ¾ cup light sour cream optional
- In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Add onion and garlic to the beef, reduce to medium heat and continue to cook for five more minutes, stir frequently.
- Stir the chile powder and cumin into the meat mixture and continue to cook for one more minute to allow the spices bloom.
- Add the tomatoes, broth and salt. Stir to combine, then simmer over low heat for 30 minutes while you prepare the taco toppings.
- To prepare corn tortillas, heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. One-by-one, toast the corn tortillas on each side, then wrap them in a clean towel to stay warm. You may need to use a small amount of oil if your cast iron pan is not well-seasoned. If you are using pre-formed taco shells, place them on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
- To assemble: fill each tortilla or shell with two spoonfuls of meat (about ⅛th cup) then top with cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, if desired.