I used to think of tacos as a quick weeknight dinner that came in a box, with mostly crushed taco shells, and goo called ‘sauce’ in a foil packet. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED taco night. But, the things I had been eating my whole childhood werent real tacos.
I beg of you; Drop the pre made taco kit boxes right now! I’ve got a super quick and easy recipe for your own homemade taco kit that will make you realize that you, too have been eating the wrong thing all along.
For a few years, I lived in Brooklyn, in a mostly hispanic neighborhood. There were tons of street vendors on the corners every day, the aromatic spices flowing through the air, teasing my taste buds and belly. It was some of the best food I’ve ever had. Not to mention, they made FRESH, homemade tortillas. That’s when I was hooked.
Lets do this classic cuisine justice!
Now, what I have for you today is what I like to call a triple whammy. 3 amazing recipes all in one post! . Firstly, we have homemade flour tortillas, then homemade taco seasoning, and finally, how to put together these amazing little tacos.
You lucky duck, you.
Lets start out with the stuff that holds it all together. Tortillas. You just can’t get any fresher than making them yourself. Sure, it’s easy to grab them from the supermarket, half stale and bland. And sure, they probably seem fine and taste fine…up until NOW. Once you make your own, you’ll say “Self; what have I been missing out on all this time??” Not only are they SUPER easy to make, but the taste is incomparable (and it’s cheaper, too!)
Today I’m focusing on flour tortillas, and perhaps in the future I will make corn ones as well. You can keep these tortillas soft, or bake them into a crispy shell. Personally, when the tortillas are this fresh, I like to keep them just the way they are. Soft, but crispy and golden on the outside. You can also replace half or all of the ap flour with whole wheat, if you prefer!
Homemade Flour Tortillas
What You’ll Need:
+ 2 cups all-purpose flour
+ 1/2 teaspoon salt
+ 1 teaspoon baking powder
+ 1 Tablespoon lard
+ 1 cup water
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix in the lard with a pastry cutter (or your hands), until it resembled coarse crumbs. Add the water and stir until it becomes a dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to make sure it’s all combined and smooth. Divide into 12 pieces and form 12 balls. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Roll each ball into a round, thin tortilla (about 9 inches). Place into the skillet, one at a time. Cook about 2 minutes, until bubbles start forming.Flip, and cook on other side another minute. Keep warm.
Now, lets move on to the part that gives us all that incredible flavor:
Spices. Spices. Spices. If you buy the taco kits, or pre made taco spices, a lot of times they are stale and have lost much of their strong flavor by the time they get to you. This also goes for really cheap spice brands. They work for sure, but there’s just nothing like some aromatic, fresher spices. (I’ll do a post in the future on my favorite spice brand). In the end you consume more salt to make up for the missing flavors. Plus, have you ever looked at how much sodium is in a packet of taco seasoning? Ay Caramba! Do yourself and your blood pressure a favor and make your own spice blend! You can even mix a batch and pop it in a mason jar for later use.
On top of all that, you can customize it to the way YOU like it. Like extra cumin? Like more spice? Add more in! Simple.
Taco Seasoning Mix
+ 3 teaspoons chili powder
+ 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
+ 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
+ 1/2 teaspoon paprika
+ 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
+ 1/4 teaspoon oregano
+ 2 teaspoons cumin
+ about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Combine all of the spices together, and store in an airtight jar or container to preserve the freshness.
And now, for the main attraction…..How to put it all together and make one darn good taco! I like to mince up some peppers and onion (and sometimes even black beans or corn) to mix into my taco meat, but that’s totally optional. I think it adds another dimension of flavor and texture, but it’s all about preference!
What You’ll Need:
+ 1 pound ground beef (or chicken)
+ tortillas (about 6)
+ 1 small onion, diced (optional)
+ 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
+ 1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
+ Toppings for tacos: Salsa, cheese, lettuce, avocado, for example
Heat up a deep skillet over medium heat. Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan. Cook the ground meat thoroughly. Remove and drain, if desired. Cook onion and peppers in the pan until soft. Add back the meat. Add about 3 Tablespoons of the spices and 1/4 cup water. Stir until combined. Cook down until the spices and water make a nice sauce over the meat mixture. Taste- add more of the spice mix, or add more of one particular spice. This is all about YOUR taste preferences. Some like it hot, some do not!