We never, ever had McDonald’s when I was a kid, but Taco Bell was on the “okay sometimes” list. I don’t remember ever eating Taco Bell when we weren’t in the car, so it must have been some kind of back-up plan for food emergencies on the way to important places like the post office, but that part really doesn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the crispy tacos. Me and li’l brother would always get crispy tacos. I guess because he was so little, li’l brother didn’t really know how to eat a crispy taco without breaking it all to pieces, or else he was too young to understand that that’s just a fact of life when you eat crispy tacos.
Either way, once that taco was broken, IT. WAS. ALL. OVER. Like, mayhem and chaos and crying in the back seat and his day was absolutely RUINED, probably also ruining my mom’s day. It could have ruined mine, too, if I weren’t always so occupied stuffing my taco-loving face as quick as I could. Poor mama would try to convince him that a crispy taco held sideways is “just like a sandwich!” Travis knew that was horse shit and he was no longer interested in that G.D. crispy taco and was wishing it had never come into his life.
I don’t know why my mom let us keep ordering crispy tacos.
Another time, as I was wolfing down my taco, I started choking on a piece of taco shell and barfed in the car. Fortunately, we still hadn’t even left the drive-thru line and the car was parked so I was able to open the door and get it (mostly) outside. Oh yeah, I guess it was also fortunate that I didn’t die. But that should also tell you something about how desperately I LOVED crispy tacos as a kid. I still love them, but I no longer devour them like a feral dog and can usually manage to eat them without spilling taco sauce all over myself.
- 8 corn tortillas
- Cooking oil spray or vegetable oil and a basting brush
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed (or ½ teaspoon ground cumin)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ cup water, beer, or beef stock
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For serving: shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, salsa
- Make the tortilla shells:
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Sprinkle the tortillas with a little water and microwave for 30 seconds or so to soften. Spray or brush lightly with oil. Lay each tortilla over 2 oven rack bars. Bake for 9 minutes, then remove tortillas from bars and set upright on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet back in the oven and turn oven OFF while you make the filling.
- For the filling:
- Saute onion in about ½ teaspoon or oil (or use cooking spray) for 10 minutes over medium-high heat until translucent and slightly browned.
- Add cumin and chili powder and stir for 10 seconds.
- Add garlic, jalapeno, red pepper, and beef.
- Break the meat into large chunks and add water.
- Continue to stir the meat, breaking it into smaller pieces with the water.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
- Add oregano and salt and simmer another 5 minutes to evaporate excess water.
- Fill the taco shells with the beef and serve with the toppings of your choice.
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