This has to be one of my family’s FAVORITE meals. It’s simple and easy to prepare and I can make LOTS to feed a crowd without too much trouble. I am a good cook (I stink at lots of things like math and reading maps and hitting a tiny ball in a golf hole, which I’m not afraid to admit, but cooking, I can do). But, despite my culinary prowess, my mother’s tacos are just plain ole better. I can’t tell you why. We make them the same way, but when she makes them they’re just…just…superior, more authentic, more mom-like.
1.5 – 2 pounds ground beef (extra lean)
spices: 1 t salt, 1/2 t ground pepper, minced garlic (2 cloves), 2 t ground cumin, 2 t chili powder (optional)
20 corn tortillas
Make ahead toppings: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese (cheddar, jack or Mexican cotija), diced tomato, diced green onions, diced avocado, hot sauce (we prefer Frank’s Red Hot), lime wedges for squirting over it all
Heat a medium size Teflon skillet/fry pan over medium-high heat and add ground beef. Add about 1/4 c water to keep the meat from drying out. Before the meat is all the way cooked, stir in spices. You can add more or less spices than what I show above, but do not skimp on the ground cumin – it makes the taco meat so flavorful! Turn off heat and keep covered so it stays moist. Add a drizzle of water if the meat does get dry.
Heat enough oil in a small Teflon skillet to fully cover a tortilla. Use medium-high heat and adjust up or down as needed when you start frying.
Once oil is hot (it starts to give off a tiny bit of smoke or bubble a bit) carefully lay in one flat corn tortilla (do not drop it in unless you want to get splattered with hot oil).
Let tortilla sit in hot oil for a few seconds only before grabbing one end with a fork or pair of tongs and folding it in half. Keep the fork in between one side and the other (in the middle of the two sides) so the tortilla says open a bit in the center. Fry long enough for the tortilla to start to crisp up (not until it’s hard, but just starting to crisp). Use the tongs or 2 forks to flip tortilla carefully so you can fry the other side.
Lift fried tortilla shell and place on a plate covered with a few paper towels to drain and begin cooling.
Repeat with remaining tortillas. Add more oil as needed throughout the process.
Fill each shell with meat. Top with toppings to taste.