Who doesn’t like classic beef tacos? (Well, aside from vegetarians.) I have experimented with different taco techniques in the past, using various pre-mixed spices and mixing my own. I’ve found that I actually prefer the good old taco-mix-in-a-pouch that makes yummy saucy filling. And giving The Book’s track record on Mexican food so far, I was skeptical that this recipe would really be any good.
In addition to a recipe for the filling, The Book recommends you make your own taco shells. The pictures made the process look fairly simple, so I accepted the challenge. Using store bought corn tortillas, I followed the instructions closely. In a skillet of hot oil, I fried the tortillas one half at a time, holding them in a taco shape with tongs and a spatula. Did you know it’s really uncomfortable to hold tongs in place for several minutes? Cause yeah, my hands got really sore. I guess it would be easier with tongs that lock closed. In addition to the unexpected discomfort, I found that my spatula and tongs were sticking to the tortilla as it fried, causing holes and tears in the side of my taco shells. So I made some extras. The whole shell making process took a really long time and my back was aching by the time I finished.
After a break to rest my back, I started on the taco meat itself. Onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne pepper, and chili powder are cooked with the ground beef. Then tomato sauce, chicken broth, cider vinegar, and brown sugar are added and stewed for about 10 minutes. The result was nicely saucy and smelled great.
They do look pretty in those homemade shells. My first taco shell was overly greasy and not crispy enough. That may have been a problem with the oil temp. The filling, however, was awesome. Really nicely sweet, but smoky and flavorful. I am absolutely a convert. I will be making tacos from this recipe from now on. My second taco shell was better, but still, they weren’t worth all the effort and time it took to cook them. I’ll be buying my shells pre-made from now on, but I’ll be making my filling from scratch.