When I first moved to Mexico I embraced the authentic taco culture. Growing up in northeast USA during the eighties, we didn't have a lot of taco options, and I can remember my mom preparing the taco kit with the hard shells and package of taco seasoning. I loved them!! We ate them with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, chopped onions and sour cream. The other day I was joking around about gringo tacos with my chef friend Carmen. I honestly haven't eaten a gringo taco in YEARS. I think I made a conscious effort to avoid them. But when we started to joke about it I got such a craving for the flavor. She told me she had a recipe she based on her family's recipe for picadillo. Today she came over to make them for me and let me tell you they are the perfect authentic Mexican gringo tacos. I asked her to share the recipe and she said yes.
- one lb ground beef
- 4Tbsp + 2Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 TBSP oregano
- 2 dried guajillo chiles
Step one: Cut the stems off and de-seed the chiles. Lightly dry roast them in a pan with two cloves of garlic. DO NOT BURN. Just toasty.
Step two: split the chiles and garlic lengthwise and cover with approx 1/2 cup of hot water to cover them. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes.
Step three: Mince the onion and garlic. In a large flat frying pan (important!) add 4tbsp olive oil and caramelize the onions over medium low heat. once they are almost ready add the garlic and cook a bit longer until the garlic softens. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Reserve the oil to fry the meat.
Step four: Return the large flat frying pan to the heat and turn it up to high heat. You could add another Tablespoon of oil here if your pan is dry. Add the ground beef to the pan and saute until lightly golden. Stir in the cumin, cloves, and black pepper. Do not over brown the meat. Once all the meat is cooked through add salt to taste. Put aside.
Step five: add the soaked chiles, water, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt to the blender. Puree until smooth.
Step six: Heat up a skillet. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat the oil until it hot and then turn off the flame. Add the pureed chile mixture the hot pan and allow it to sizzle in the oil. Do Not Cover. Turn on the flame to high and allow the sauce to fry for about one minute.
Step seven: Add the ground beef into the chile mix. Stir well. Remember the sauce is just to coat the meat, it's not a sauce. Carmen added a 1/4 cup of water to the meat pan and scraped all the browned bits into the chile pan. Add the caramelized onions and garlic. The final step is to add a Tbsp of dried oregano to the pan. She crushed it between her fingers to release the flavor as she sprinkled it over the meat.
Serve in warm tacos, taco shells, or on tostadas. Add any fillings you like! Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, avocado, sour cream all work great! Next time I might try adding frozen corn kernals for a chile con carne feel. Let me know what you think!!