For many readers, I’m afraid this may be a disappointing Taco Tuesday. What we have here is not innovative, unique, or likely to overtake the masses of chic foodie Pinterest titans. Instead, it’s a simple, classic Tex Mex beef taco.
When we started Taco Tuesdays, I had a dozen avant garde ideas swirling in my head for fun, unique ingredients to wrap up in a warm tortilla and top with cheese. But in the back of my mind, lurking behind my pretentious delusions of fierce uniqueness in the taco capital of Texas, was the perfect representation of Tex Mex restaurants. The beef taco.
It’s the first, cheapest, greasiest item on every single menu at every single Tex Mex restaurant. It is simple, unassuming, but respected. Of course, I frequently crave the toddler-sized plate of enchiladas doused in spicy sauces and smothered with alllll the cheese, but often my soul craves the PB&J of Tex Mex cuisine. And it never disappoints.
I can’t say that any of these beef tacos I’ve consumed could be deemed excellent, nor has the quality of ingredients ever been above slightly questionable. Often, the meat mixture is a soupy mess of grease and over-seasoning, and the tortilla succumbs to the burden of too much moisture and becomes chewy, even soggy. But it has the unique and irresistible taste of home that can be found in any given region. For some of my neighbors, it might be barbecue, or burgers, or any meat that is fried like chicken. But in our home, the taco reigns forever.
I will indulge myself and say that this version of the classic Tex Mex taco trumps what is served in restaurants. The fresh, custom-assortment of flavorful pantry spices puts any prepackaged, sodium-filled pocket o’taco seasoning to shame. Use a quality grade of lean ground beef and your favorite homemade tortillas to make this a dinner that trumps whatever guilty-pleasure Tex Mex restaurant you frequent.
The typical toppings are shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. I chose to use some more hearty romaine lettuce in lieu of the watery iceberg, the cutest little cherry tomatoes from our garden (that is currently in desperate need of a good weeding) and freshly grated sharp cheddar. Make a swankier version of your own by adding sliced avocado, pico de gallo, or even caramelized onions. It starts simple but has endless possibility.
- ½ small white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ cup shredded lettuce
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup diced tomatoes
- 12 flour tortillas
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once heated, add the ground beef and begin cooking.
- While the beef begins to cook, mix together the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, and oregano. After the beef has cooked for about 3 minutes, add the spice mixture and combine.
- The beef is done cooking when there is no pink left, about 7-8 minutes after putting it in the pan. Add the juice of one lime to the beef mixture and stir well.
- To assemble, layer a serving of the seasoned beef into a warmed tortilla and top with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Enjoy!