I just remembered! The very first* tacos I ever had were ground beef tacos. I was in the sixth grade, and we were studying Mexico. The class got divided into several groups that were to come up with a different project. Of course, my little group decided to do food. The mother of one of the girls showed us how to make tacos, and we made them for the whole class.
*My dad, if you recall from earlier posts, was a steaks and chops and roasts kind of guy who did not like ground beef; so we did not have things like tacos or casseroles, though he would tolerate the occasional shepherd's pie.
I have a certain way of cooking my tortillas so that they make a rather crisp, though not completely crisp, taco shell without the deep-frying. What kind of taco shells do you like?
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered ancho chiles
1/2 teaspoon powdered anaheim chiles
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound very lean ground beef
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons organic ketchup
Oil for the griddle
8 6-inch or little larger white corn tortillas
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Tomato, avocado, lettuce, sour cream, salsa
1 In small bowl, stir together sugar, salt and spices. Heat skillet (I use this All-Clad stainless steel 12-inch fry pan), and add oil. If you like, cook a little chopped onion before adding beef to the skillet. Add the beef, breaking it up quite finely and browning it well. (Really well. I mean, I think ground beef that is merely "grayed" rather than browned is seriously unappetizing!)
Update: Forgot to mention that you need to drain off the fat once the meat is thoroughly browned. Unless there is no fat to drain, as was the case with my very lean organic grassfed beef.
2 Stir in the seasoning mixture, cooking for a minute to bloom the spices. Stir in the flour, mixing it in well with the meat, cooking for a minute. Stir in the water and ketchup, and cook until water is nearly gone. (This little touch of ketchup is not enough to make the meat taste "ketchup-y;" it's just enough to add a certain something.)
3 Meanwhile, heat the griddle. If you have an 11-inch square griddle, you can cook two tortillas at a time (with just a little overlap). Pour two little blobs of oil (about the size of a quarter or a little larger) on the griddle. Place a tortilla on each blob of oil and push it around till tortilla is coated, then turn it over and coat the other side in the same way. When the tortillas are starting to brown and bubble on the bottom, turn them over to cook other side. Before they get too crisp, fold them in half. Continue cooking until crisp; turn and crisp the other side. Drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to fill. Repeat three times.
4 Have your bowls of cheese, tomato, avocado, lettuce, whatever you want, ready. Divide the taco meat among the 8 taco shells, using about 1/4 cup per taco. Add cheese and other garnishes.