Mmmm… Taco

July 25, 2006

Mmmm… Taco.


It’s taco night, kids. Since my husband started making these homemade tacos, it’s the highlight of my week (next to the chance to watch bad TV of my choice, such as “Project Runway” — which, by the way, I have yet to see this season. Are you reading this, K?).


My hubby has declared, in no uncertain terms, that the trick to this recipe is fresh salsa. And here’s another chance to take credit for his culinary prowess since he learned how to prepare fresh salsa from my family (who have no Latin blood in them whatsoever).


Yes, fresh salsa is more work than canned, but it’s so worth it. Plus, you have the satisfaction of putting all those veggies into your cart, making you look like some kind of health-food nut/Iron Chef. (Or at least allowing you to rationalize the “party size” bag of Cheetos you’ll eat in the car on the ride home.) Then, in the checkout line, you can gaze with disdain at the processed foods of your fellow shopper while the cashier flips through that little binder searching for the product number of your veggies.


Fresh Salsa:

1/2 an onion, chopped

1/2 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced up (or 1 large tomato, rough chopped)

1 jalapeno, diced very fine

1 clove garlic, diced fine


Splash of lime

Splash of olive oil

SalsaBe careful with that jalapeno: The heat is in the seeds; more seeds, more heat. Typically, we scrape those guys out — it’s plenty spicy with just the green fleshy part. And don’t touch your eyes. In fact, I take my contacts out for the evening BEFORE I handle jalapenos. Kendle has perfect vision; his only worry is “spicy finger.” You’ll find out what I mean if you bite your nails, and you cook with jalapenos.

Combine all these ingredients. Ta DA! You’ve made salsa.

Set aside 1/4 cup of salsa to be added to the beef mixture. Speaking of that beef mixture… It contains:

1 pound of beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 8 oz. can of corn, drained

1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce

1 tbsp. chili powder

4 tsps. cumin

1/2 tsp. of chipotle powder

1 pinch of white pepper

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

Saute the onions until they’re translucent, then throw in the corn. Let them get happy — ah, Emeril — for a spell and then add in your salsa and your sauce. Let that stew for a bit, until the tomatoes have given up some liquid. Then throw in da beef. Beef mixture (K actually used buffalo meat. Before you become awed by this adventerous choice, know this: It was a total accident he bought buffalo meet. Apparently, it was next to the ground beef, and he was more concerned about leaness and color than the exact animal bits he was buying. It speaks to the kind of grocery we have around here that this happy mistake is even possible. Anyway, it turned out great, and K looks like a genius — as usual.)

When the beef is close to done, add your spices.

Now, you could use taco shells — with a little bit of your fresh salsa, beef mixture and some queso fresca, this would probably be damn tasty. But my hubby’s got to take it to another level by making his own taco shells. That’s right, kids. Homemade taco shells. The entertainment value here is the danger level — hot oil — and science display — flour tortillas inflating like a Macy’s balloon. Plus, it tastes good.

Frying taco shellsSo heat a shallow pan about half full with some canola oil. Wait until it’s a rip-roaring 350 degrees. Clinging to one lip of a flour tortilla with some tongs, dip half the shell into the oil, while the other part dangles over top of it. You know, like a moon. Or, like a taco shape. After a minute or so, fish out the side that’s been in the oil and flip the raw side into the oil — holding the shell so a gap appears between the two sides. (Again, like, er, a taco shell.) Why is this harder to explain than to do? Look at the photo. Does it help?

Anyway, when all this is done, you’ve got tacos. Enjoy. I do.


  1. kendle! jen! amazing. mark and i are totally hooked–and trying these recipes. this might make you the two coolest friends that i have…i’m very, very impressed and anxious to read more:) hope you’re well & see you soon, ajsb

  2. Okay, dude (and dudette), I see where you’re coming from . . . Cook’s Illustrated, the mag that pretty much taught me how to cook. But like me, I see you’re always ready to take a recipe to “the next level” . . . the deep-fried flour tortillas look great. Why didn’t I think of that?

    I’m going to try it next time, particularly since corn tortillas are almost impossible to find in Montreal.


  3. I love making my own taco shells. I suppose next we’ll have to start making the tortillas fresh. How long do you fry yours? I like to pull them out before they get too crunchy. A little chew, a little snap, it’s right in between soft and hard shells. Yum

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