If there’s one food that Americans have adopted from another culture and changed to their own liking it’s the taco. In fact, most Americans wouldn’t know a real taco if it bit them. We’ve changed them too much. Chain restaurants have buried the simple and noble flavors under mounds of lettuce, yellow processed cheese goo and whatever else they can come up with.
In the end, that ain’t a taco. At best it’s a Tex-Mex bastardization on a theme that can be enjoyed on its own merits. At worst it’s steamed mystery meat and ultra processed and pasteurized atomic yellow hell sauce with added capsaicin for heat and all the nutritional value of eating waxed paper. (Which would taste better in my humble opinion).
This dish is an attempt to bring something a little closer to an actual taco to my kids’ dinner plate. The lettuce and sour cream were simply there to make them more familiar to a pair of kids who thought Mexican food came from that place with a mission bell in the logo and summarily declared all Mexican and South American food as evil and grotesque.
These tacos didn’t stand a chance. One bite in and my two haters of all things South American descended on them like a pack of ravenous jackals on a wounded wildebeest. It was at once rather disturbing and very rewarding to see them enjoying something at least closely related to what real Mexican food should be. (And note… There ain’t no yellow cheese to be found!)
Please note, this is still a very much Americanized recipe, but it’s a lot closer to real Mexican-American food than my kids have ever been exposed to. I’m using recipes like this as a stepping stone to get them acquainted with flavors before going “all the way” to authentic dishes.
But these were good. Very good.
- 1-1/2 to 2 lbs carne asada or thinly sliced top round steak
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 14.5 ounce can finely diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 red onion, chopped fine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp light red chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Flour or corn tortillas, heated
- Sour cream and lettuce as toppings (completely optional)
- Heat olive oil to shimmering in a large heavy-bottomed skillet. Season beef with salt and pepper and sear quickly in oil. Add all remaining ingredients (except tortillas and toppings) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef falls apart easily. (About 1-1/2 hours.)
- Serve on warm tortillas with toppings of your choice.
What I would have done Differently had I thought of it at the time:
Now that I think about it, this could be a great crock-pot recipe. Just add everything to your slow cooker and let it go on low all day. By the time you get in from work all you’ll have to do is get the toppings ready. Perfect for a hectic workday meal!
Links to other recipes like this: