I don’t know what I hate more: when I finish my taco or when I finish my margarita.
Both are equally depressing, which is why in this case I just went with a beer.
And an overload of tacos for… myself.
In true high maintenance millennial fashion, I find it imperative to have flavorful, easy and different dinners during the month of December or else everything starts tasting like brie cheese with cranberries chased by sliced salami and maybe a sugar cookie.
Which sounds horrific, honestly.
But I always want to have a few evenings where we just eat “regular” food (as Eddie would say) and aren’t consuming holiday party fare – and I also want those evenings of food to still be fun and perhaps new and exciting and not just my go-to kale salad or clean-out-the-fridge pasta.
So maybe this isn’t necessarily classified as REGULAR food but it certainly packs the right flavor punch, is easier than it seems and gives you an excellent excuse to have a margarita.
Wait. Who needs an excuse?
Remember time out? Saved By the Bell, Zack Morris and his gigantic phone? He timed out all the time and life just stopped. Real life, do it.
Let’s please talk about these delicious fluffy and puffy tortillas. Look at ’em! I don’t even know what to do with life. SO FLUFFY. We are talking about taco pillows. A cloud for my melted cheese and beef.
Frankly, I also love this meal because it’s indulgent and delicious enough to serve to some friends (or, um, yourself) when you want comfort food. And just a different version of a taco, you know?
I don’t want a new version of a taco, said no one ever.
So. Puffy tacos are corn tortillas that are fried for a few seconds until they puff up and hold that shape. The texture is INCREDIBLE. Especially if you’re a texture person. I don’t know everything about authentic puffy tacos, but I think the best are made with masa flour and it’s usually suggested that you make your own, right there on the spot.
Managing a large pot of scalding hot oil was enough for me to deal with while having a clingy snuggabug at my toes, so I figured I’d give it a whirl and try some of my favorite store bought corn tortillas – and it totally worked! The key is checking out the ingredient list, looking for that masa and going from there. I used the la tortilla factory yellow corn tortillas because we are addicted. So I can assure you that those ones work. Buuuut I probably just bought them all from your store so there’s that.
I did a classic beef taco because it was exactly what I was craving. Used my go-to seasoned ground beef that I can make with my eyes closed – I probably make this with chicken, turkey or beef at least three or four times a month for everything from salads to enchiladas to nachos. It also freezes great too!
Here’s what other freaky things I did:
I made a little quick pico, simply some chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, torn cilantro, lime juice and salt. SO good. I like keeping this in the fridge for a day or two and using it on everything. Pico your life.
And I finely shredded some Monterey jack cheese. That’s IT. Three things is all your need: beef, pico, cheese. It’s getting stuffed right in the taco and shoved in your face. Nothing else needed right now. Except the beer.
- 8 yellow corn tortillas
- vegetable oil for frying, enough to reach about 3 inches deep in the pot
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup low-sodium beef stock
- 6 ounces monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
- lime wedges for spritzing
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- juice of 1 lime
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add enough vegetable oil to come up about 2 to 3 inches high. Heat until hot – I do not use a candy thermometer for this, but I test a piece or tortilla and when it starts to fry immediately, the oil is ready. I don’t heat it over high heat because it can burn quickly. To make the puffy tacos, take a pair of kitchen tongs and drop one tortilla into the oil. Take the tongs and press down into the center of the tortilla, creating a fold, and hold it there for 20 to 30 seconds, until the tortilla is puffed. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain – and repeat!
- While you’re waiting for the oil to heat up, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, stirring well and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the beef, breaking it up with a large wooden spoon. Cook until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add it to the beef and stir well (continuing to break up the pieces of beef with the spoon) until combined, then stir in the stock. Toss well to combine. Cover and cook on low heat until the tortillas are finished. (note: if i ever find that the stock turns the mixture too watery, i will sprinkle in a spoonful or flour or cornstarch and stir stir stir, sometimes drizzling in a bit more stock.)
- Assemble the tacos by stuffing some beef inside a tortilla, topping it with cheese and adding the pico. You can add another spritz of lime if you’d like!
- Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix. This can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for a few days.
I would gladly eat this whole plate and not care about hating life.