Beef Tacos

From America's Test Kitchen Season 6: Tex-Mex Favorites

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Why this recipe works:

We set out to develop a taco recipe with a boldly spiced beef mixture and fresh toppings. We fried corn tortillas to make superior homemade taco shells. For the filling, we sautéed onions and garlic, then sautéed the spices to bring out their flavor. Using very lean ground beef prevented… read more

We set out to develop a taco recipe with a boldly spiced beef mixture and fresh toppings. We fried corn tortillas to make superior homemade taco shells. For the filling, we sautéed onions and garlic, then sautéed the spices to bring out their flavor. Using very lean ground beef prevented greasiness, and adding tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, and vinegar created roundness and depth.

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Makes 8 tacos, serving 4

Tomato sauce is sold in cans in the same aisle that carries canned whole tomatoes. Do not use jarred pasta sauce in its place. We prefer to let diners top their own tacos with whatever fillings they prefer. There’s no need to prepare all of the toppings listed below, but cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes are, in our opinion, essential.

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. 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.

Detail sfs classic beef tacos 10
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