I love tacos. I could eat them for every meal, every day. Seriously. I really could.
I am pretty loyal to the La Tiara brand of taco seasoning and taco shells (they’re made locally and are quite tasty), but I came across this recipe on the Cook’s Illustrated website and wanted to give it a try. They recommend making your own shells, so I thought I would give that a try, too. As I was frying my first shell, I saw a recipe on the back of the tortilla package for “Restaurant Style Fried Tacos.” Ah, deep fried tacos. Drool.
The deep fried tacos are pretty simple to make. Heat your oil to 350° (I used my deep fryer). Put a small amount of the prepared meat in a tortilla and close it up with a couple of toothpicks, making a taco shape. Drop the taco into the oil and fry for 30 seconds to a minute, until the tortilla is crisp. Remove the taco from the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. When the taco is cool enough to touch, remove the toothpicks and separate the sides of the taco just slightly to finish filling the taco with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, etc. I made beef tacos in corn tortillas, and chicken tacos in flour tortillas. For chicken, just substitute the beef in the recipe below with 1 pound of finely diced raw chicken breast. Both were delicious.
One more note on frying: resist the urge to fill and toothpick-close a bunch of tacos at once. The corn tortillas will dry out and crack while waiting for their bath in the fryer. The meat will fall out into the fryer and you won’t have much of a taco left when you remove it from the oil. I learned this lesson the hard way.
We’ve also used this filling in tacos salads and burritos.
This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
What You Need
- 2 t canola oil
- 1 small onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 T chili powder
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1/2 t dried oregano
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 lb 90% lean ground beef (or leaner—I used 96/4)
- 1/2 c tomato sauce
- 1/2 c chicken broth
- 1 t brown sugar
- 2 t cider vinegar
What You Do
Place the oil in a skillet and heat over medium heat until the oil shimmers (not smoking). Add the onions and cook until they are softened (about 4 minutes). Add the garlic, chili power, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne, and salt to pan and stir. Continue stirring and cook for about a minute, until the garlic and spices are fragrant. Add the beef and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking up the meat in the process. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. The meat is done when the liquid has reduced and thickened. Season with salt and pepper as needed.