Saturday, February 6, 2021

Beef Tacos from Scratch


We love our tacos here in the Gruggen household. For the last 10 years or so, I've been lazy when it comes to making tacos. One pound of ground beef...three tablespoons of Costco taco seasoning...and one can of beer. Couldn't be simpler. But the taste is pretty pedestrian.

Way back in the 90's I used to make my taco meat from scratch. Ground beef and incredible mix of spices...half cup each of chicken broth and tomato sauce...and a splash of cider vinegar. So I started digging through Cook's Illustrated until I found my old friend. I made it this week and Becky and I were blown away by how much better it tasted.

When it comes to making tacos, I love Old El Paso Stand'n'Stuff taco shells.  They are made from yellow corn, which I consider a "must have" for a genuine taco experience. They are flat on the bottom so they do not tip over and heat evenly when I slide the shells with the meat into the oven. 

After the ground beef, the fillings are the fun part. Our preference: shredded lettuce, shredded Mexican cheese, Pico de Gallo salsa, hot sauce (Cholula for me and Sriracha for Becky), cilantro and sour cream. Whatever your topping preference, give this ground beef taco recipe a spin. It's greatness will be evident the second it hits your tongue.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar


  1. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, spices and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  2. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon meat into the individual shells and then heat them for 5 minutes in a 350ยบ oven. Then serve for people to add their favorite toppings.

Pairing: Cerveza

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

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