Allison Collin’s: Born, Bred and Valley Fed

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I’ve developed a little bit of a reputation amongst my friends here in Colorado. It’s not a bad reputation; actually, it’s one I am kind of proud to have. While some may think that it has to do with my character, (don’t worry, I promise I am showing Colorado all the Imperial Valley love I have to offer), it’s a reputation for my food, specifically my love for tacos! It shouldn’t be that surprising considering the superb tacos I grew up eating in the Valley.

It all started about a year ago when I exclaimed to a friend that we should get tacos as a late night snack. Sadly, the food truck scene is not quite like it is in California, so I had to settle for Taco Bell, but nevertheless, I became known as the “taco girl” from that point on. Heck, my roommate even gave me a taco t-shirt for my birthday. I love that shirt and want more!

To help celebrate this love for tacos and share it with my friends, I have made it a monthly thing to either go out or make tacos at least a couple times a month. Most recently, I did this last week by having a taco fiesta for my dear friend before she left for deployment. Initially, I wanted to do street tacos, to keep it easy and simple and most importantly, let the taco speak for itself. But after browsing through recipes in a cookbook, I was inspired to whip up some old school tacos, just like my grandpa makes.

On the outside it would appear there is nothing really special about the tacos my grandpa makes — just ground beef, store-bought taco sauce, a crunchy shell, and some toppings. When you bite into them though, there is just something that makes them memorable and delicious. So this week’s recipe, in honor of my friend leaving and our hope for a safe return home, is a fusion of the old grandpa-style tacos with new filling and sauce inspirations from a cookbook.

Old School Tacos

Filling Recipe:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic gloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce Recipe:
¼ cup ketchup
1/8 cup white vinegar
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2-3 tablespoons chipotle chilies in adobe sauce
2 tablespoon taco sauce
Add cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste

Shell:
1 pack corn tortillas
1 bottle vegetable oil

Directions:

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until fully combined. Set aside and chill while making the tacos.

If you own one, I recommend making the filling and frying the tacos in a cast iron skillet.

Taco Filling:

1). Heat up the pan with oil in it and add the meat. Cook the meat until done. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl.
2). Add onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until golden brown. Add the meat back to the pan and stir in all spices. Mix well until all the meat is combined with the onion, garlic, and spices. Transfer back to a bowl.
3). Stir in the chipotle chilis and adobe sauce.

(Now, here comes the part that grandpa taught me and what makes the tacos extra tasty…)
4). Pour the bottle of vegetable oil in a pot or cast iron skillet that is on medium heat. Heat the oil up to about 130 degrees. I recommend getting a splashguard for your pan to help prevent oil splattering.
5). Place about 1-2 tablespoons of filling in a tortilla. Fold the tortilla in half and using tongs, gently place the tortilla in the hot oil. Let fry on each side 2-3 minutes or until golden and crispy.
6). Continue this process until you’ve used up the entire bowl of filling into tacos. I ended up making about 30 tacos. Note that some of the meat may fall out into the pan; I just used a slotted spoon to scoop it up and put it in a bowl to serve for those wanting more filling.

Use lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro as toppings along with chips and guacamole and black beans for side dishes.

While I am not a fan of the mess made while cooking with the oil, I can say that these were some of the best crunchy tacos I’ve had in a long time, and even better, they tasted just like my grandpa makes.

While I know most of you probably have your own way of whipping up this Tuesday classic, I do hope you will give this recipe a try. Let me know how yours turn out!