From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos

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lone nut
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2010/04/25 19:27:03 (permalink)

From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos

OK. I know this is a low-rent subject, please don't start in about REAL tacos, machaca, carne asada, and... the like. I don't wanna hear about soft tortillas. I don't wanna hear about fish "tacos", bird "tacos", ad naseum. I want to know how we can all improve upon the packaged (Lawry's, McCormick et al) spice packs. What I am seeing in Los Angeles the Damned, in the Latino spices rack, are dirt cheap dried chile powders, along with the usual cumin and so forth. There are about a half dozen chiles, New Mexico, Anaheim, et al. Which one do ya'll choose when making your own fixins?
Also, I don't see any reason to use "onion powder", "garlic salt" and so forth, when fresh onions and garlic are right here in my face.
Going further, I notice that Taco Bell (founder? A guy named "Bell") lists oats as a big part of their ground beef recipe. I just tried instant mashed potato (2 big tablespoons/lb of beef, while it's simmering down the added water), and that seemed to add the savory quality I seek, minus the gross, orange, rendered animal fat.
Any low rent musings out there?
 
#1

28 Replies Related Threads

    enginecapt
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 14:28:04 (permalink)
    The silence is deafening.
    #2
    Jennifer_4
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 16:29:28 (permalink)
    I'm not proud, I'll start..... I like fresh garlic, green onions, cumin,  Mexican oregano,  cilantro, onion powder (sorry I'm not a fan of regular onions), as far as chilies go... poblanos,  anaheims, and wax peppers... they add a certain piquancy to the mix..  and I use ground turkey, I just like it better...I also add Sriracha, being a HUGE fan of the stuff...  oh, and I like tomatoes IN the meat so they don't fall off.   I'm kind of over iceberg lettuce.. I like spinach or romaine for the greens..   hope this helps get the ball rolling.   Oh, and may the taco gods forgive me...but I also add ketchup to the meat mix.  I like it sweet.
    post edited by Jennifer_4 - 2010/05/15 16:30:48
    #3
    enginecapt
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 16:33:56 (permalink)
    I'd eat those.
    #4
    tcrouzer
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 19:03:58 (permalink)
    I make my own taco seasonings, have done it for years:

    1 TB chili powder
    2 t. onion  powder
    1 t. ground cumin
    1 t. garlic powder
    1 t. paprika
    1 t. ground oregano
    1/2 t. sugar
    1/2 t. salt

    Mix all together in a mortar and pestle. Makes 3 TB mix or about equal to a 1.25 oz. package of taco seasoning mix.

    You can stir in some masa flour or cornmeal to tighten up the beef taco mixture. Just don't use too much. Simmer the corn flour/meal with the beef and seasonings.

    Source: Jane Brody's Good Food Book - or an earlier book of hers.
    #5
    bwave
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 19:41:10 (permalink)
    LOL      Don't hate me, but I think chicken is a much better meat for tacos!!  (guess you call that a bird taco)  it's not greasy and has great flavor.   I boil the chicken, chop the meat, saute in olive oil sprinkle with a very light flour, then sprinkle on Old El Paso taco seasoning, pour in some medium Ortega taco sauce and a couple tablespoons of water.   I prefer Ortega white corn crunchy shells.   Top with Ortega Med Sauce, shredded carrots (instead of cheese), romaine lettuce, chopped onion, chopped grape tomatoes, and chopped zesty dill pickles.      This of course has to be served with the cheapest white rice you can find  (like a 10lb bag of no name rice, cooked with margarine/salt)  and about a dozen napkins.  Am I going to need the smelling salts to revive you up off the floor?
    #6
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/15 21:06:25 (permalink)
    All above sounds good to me! I might add any of yalls stuff.

    I always also add chopped bell peppers to the meat before cooking. And sometimes Rotel tomatoes...(Mexican, Mild, or Original flavors), pickled jalapenos, and whatever else sounds good at tha time.

    All this is not to say that I also love other kinds of tacos. Slow cooked brisket w/ mexican green sauce (no taco seasoning) and cilantro, ground turkey or chicken, left over rotisserie chicken, ground pork, or... hey almost anything w/ some McC or Lowr's taco seasonin is good. I even sometimes do the store brand stuff.
    Joe

    Oh, and Catfish... grilled, fried, or whaterver.
    Joe
    post edited by PapaJoe8 - 2010/05/15 21:09:46
    #7
    chewingthefat
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/16 12:23:53 (permalink)
    All this talk about great food makes me yearn for a trip to Taco Bell, at the local one you can get some yummy KFC too!
    #8
    MikeS.
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/17 00:23:25 (permalink)
    chewingthefat

    All this talk about great food makes me yearn for a trip to Taco Bell, at the local one you can get some yummy KFC too!


    Looks like someone is looking for a suspension for grossing us all out! JK!
     
    MikeS.
    #9
    BillyB
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/17 11:05:50 (permalink)
    If you trying to get away from Garlic salt, look into granulated garlic.
    #10
    LyndaB
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/17 12:32:33 (permalink)
    taco's tonight !!
    #11
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/17 17:58:09 (permalink)
    I made some good Chicken Taco Soup out of some left over KFC. Rotel, onions, bell peppers, tomato sauce, Lowery's, S&P, & garlic powder. Be sure to use tha skin and all. That's what makes tha flavor. Oh, tha fried... not grilled!

    Taco Bell is hopeless since they changed their taco meat recipe. :~(
    Joe
    post edited by PapaJoe8 - 2010/05/17 18:01:00
    #12
    Russ Jackson
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/17 21:08:50 (permalink)
    1 medium onion diced and sauteed in a little olive oil. When slightly brown add 1 1/2 lb 80/20 ground beef. Cook until almost done. Skim off most of the fat. Add 2 tablespoons dried ground ancho chilis 3 cloves minced garlic, tbl spoon lime juice, hand full diced cilantro, 2 large jalapeno peppers seeded and deveined chopped fine, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until well blended. Put in shell or tortilla. Top with cold pico de gallo. ...Russ
    #13
    MiamiDon
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 07:12:55 (permalink)
    I took the best from each of the submissions in this thread, and  have come up with the perfect taco filling.

    turkey
    Instant mashed potatoes
    rice
    dill pickles
    sugar
    carrots
    spinach
    Lowrey's Taco Seasoning

    Yum-o!
    #14
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 11:02:12 (permalink)
    Sounds great Russ! I also saute tha vegies first in o/o. I most often do some bell pepper w/ tha onions. With your recipe they may be a distraction though.

    Sorry Don but Russ's recipe sounds MUCH better. :~(

    However, tha taco seasoned spinach may have potential. I normily use lemon pepper but may give the taco seasoning a try. It could be a way to give tha Grand/Great Zillas a reason to try spinach again. :~)

    But...yall don't knok tha groun turkey till uve tried it. It also makes a good, and healthy, taco soup!
    Joe
    #15
    Tdybr27
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 13:18:43 (permalink)
    1lb hamburger
    2-3T chili powder
    3 shakes Tobasco sauce (or however many you like)
    Salt, Pepper, Garlic Salt and Onion to taste

    Place hamburger in skillet and add seasonings.  Add some water and mash hamburger with a fork.   Do not brown!   Let simmer for 1-2 hours.  Add more water if necessary!


    #16
    carollwdls
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 13:29:45 (permalink)
    "I took the best from each of the submissions in this thread, and  have come up with the perfect taco filling.

    turkey
    Instant mashed potatoes
    rice
    dill pickles
    sugar
    carrots
    spinach
    Lowrey's Taco Seasoning

    Yum-o!"
    WOW, MD! I can't wait to make this recipe for my next dinner party Hahahahaaha
    #17
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 14:35:53 (permalink)
    Hey SBQ! Good to have your input. Just be sure to tell em Don gave you the recipe! :~)

    Bwave, I also love chicken tacos. I had some of the best ever at the Freemont buffet in downtown Vegas. I have been trying to recreate them ever since. They were chopped chicken. I also use ground chicken sometimes.

    Tdybr, back when folks were looking for copy cat recipes for Taco Bell taco meat, before they changed their recipe, it came to light that skipping the browning process was the way to do it.

    The browning is not done in some good northern chili recipes as well. I won't mention any towns specificly. :~)
    Joe
    #18
    gostillerz
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/18 20:17:47 (permalink)
    Having successfully reverse engineered the complicated "Mr. Bell" taco years ago, to omit culinary travesties such as "garlic salt" and "onion powder" proved to be a challenge. However, after many minutes of intensive studies, my research and development colleagues concluded with the following.....

    It's freaking ground meat. Put the meat in a pan, add onion and garlic, s&p (that's the scientific abbreviation for salt and pepper), then throw some cumin and chili powder in aforementioned pan. Tastes like crap? Try again until it doesn't.

    Don't even get me started on the complexities of making taco shells!


    #19
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/05/19 16:45:20 (permalink)
    Gostiller, could you give us some of your expertise concerning Shanghai Jimmy's Chili Rice. Many of us have been working on that one for years. Unlike the TB recipe this one is worth discovering. There is a thread here about Jimmy.

    Oh, sorry Lone Nut! You asked that we not mention fish tacos and I did. I was hoping "catfish tacos" might be an exception though. You won't find those in any west cost restaurant I bet. I said "restaurant" so that does not include a Taco stand". :~)
    Joe
    Joe
    #20
    BelleReve
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/06 16:36:07 (permalink)
    tcrouzer - I really like your spices, but how does it all come together?  Maybe you can fill me in on how I think it's done:

    Brown 1lb. ground chuck, or ground meat (is one preferable over the other?)

    Skim off (all of the drippings/or, all but _TBS. of drippings/or, don't skim at all?) Add spices, and simmer.  To thicken if needed, add small amount of masa flour, or cornmeal.

     
    #21
    westley
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 09:29:31 (permalink)
    Half of my family is Mexican, and they ALWAYS use ground beef for their tacos.  Ground beef, diced onion, salt, and pepper in a pan -- brown well.  If you add water, then it makes it mushy and you need a thickener; so just avoid it.  Make sure you drain any fat well.  The flavor is added through the toppings, especially the salsa.
    #22
    tcrouzer
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 10:10:20 (permalink)
    BelleReve, the spices in my recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food book are a replacement for the package of taco seasonings sold in the grocery store. You brown the meat, skim off the fat, add the seasonings and 3/4 cup water, simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. If too thin, add in a spoonful of masa or cornmeal to thicken, simmer a few minutes more.
    #23
    txtwister
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 14:08:42 (permalink)
    This is what we do - with a bit of garlic thrown in for good measure.  Occasionally I make a more involved version which just means I sprinkle on some cumin and Mexican oregano and diced tomatoes, but usually not.  
    #24
    tdj_tx
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 18:51:45 (permalink)
    Here's one I have made several times from Cook's Illustrated. It's really tasty.

    Ingredients Beef Filling 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil 1 small onion , chopped small (about 2/3 cup) 3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon) 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Salt 1 pound 90% lean ground beef (or leaner) 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 1 teaspoon brown sugar 2 teaspoons vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)
    Ground black pepper Shells and Toppings 8 taco shells (warmed according to package instructions), or Home-Fried Taco Shells (see related recipe) 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces), or Monterey Jack cheese 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce 2 small tomatoes , chopped small 1/2 cup sour cream 1 avocado , diced medium 1 small onion , chopped small 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
    Tabasco sauce , or another brand of hot sauce Instructions
  • 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 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 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.
  • 2. Using wide, shallow spoon, divide filling evenly among taco shells; place two tacos on individual plates. Serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

  • #25
    Angelle
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 20:55:38 (permalink)
    An old Mexican lady who used to rent a store front from my family here in Los Angeles, taught me this trick to make good tacos. This woman made the best cracklings, that were always perfectly seasoned.
     
    To your seasoned meat (usually ground beef, not lean) with garlic, onions, peppers, cumin, chili powder, etc. she said to add one chili brick to the meat and allow to simmer on a low fire.  We have always used Delores brand Chili Brick . Always makes great tacos and it is especially good when making Tacos for a crowd. DOnt forget to also add green onion along with the onions too.
     
    Good luck!
     
    #26
    carollwdls
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/10 22:37:03 (permalink)
    I think it's all in the tortillas. All these great ingredients & ideas are wasted in stale pre-formed who knows how old plastic shrink wrapped taco "shells". I buy fresh (My choice is El Milagro brand) corn tortillas & fill them with whatever I have on hand (usually ground beef or turkey, sometimes L/O pot roast, pork loin or chicken + spices & jalapenos) & pan fry them in a T or 2 of oil until they are crispy. I first had pan fried tacos at a local Tex-Mex place & that's how I've made them at home ever since...
    #27
    BelleReve
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/13 10:52:53 (permalink)
    Thanks so much tcrouzer and everyone else who responded with tips and recipes, can't wait to try them, especially now with our Creole tomatoes (Celebrity, Big Boy) coming in.
     
    SHE - I'm with you on on those tortillas - I found a brand that's made with yellow corn, maybe it's just my imagination, but they do seem to have more flavor than others. 
    #28
    PapaJoe8
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    Re:From Scratch, GROUND BEEF Tacos 2010/06/16 11:32:02 (permalink)
    Angelle, you can't just say "chili brick" and not give us more details. :~) How big is that brick. How much taco meat to that size brick do you use. Where can you find these bricks. Is it the fozen ones or the old time dryed ones? Maybe you could start a chili brick thread here in the recipe section? But, hard to find good chili bricks here in Texas now days. :~(

    I was at a local flea market a few weeks back. Someone was making tacos. Someone else had roasted corn. Folks were using the buttered corn off the cob as a topping for their tacos. MMMMM!
    Joe
    #29
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