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Beef Puffy Tacos

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  • 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

quick pico

  • 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!

quick pico

  • Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix. This can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for a few days.

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