Beef Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Lime Sour Cream

 

Our final recipe for the Ingredient of the Month is beef tacos. I’ve had lots of fun this month with the beef recipes. The cold weather and blizzards we’ve had have made it nice to have delicious food cooking, filling the house with tempting aromas that get the juices going well before dinner time!

In our area, it’s hard to get a good taco. No offense to fast food establishments or many of our local restaurants but the flavor profile is very generic. Interestingly, when I perused taco recipes, I was surprised to see so many using chili powder, maybe that’s why they all taste the same.

I first made this recipe last summer using tofu. We had the daughter of friends staying with us for a couple of weeks while they were away. She’s in her early twenties and a vegetarian. I wanted her to feel at ease at the table and enjoy delicious, well-rounded meals with us and while we consume lots of vegetables, she needed some meat alternatives and this was pretty tasty. If you’re reading between the lines, pretty tasty means I’m not a tofu fan. The beef tacos are VERY tasty!

I used a combination of my go-to spices: ancho chili powder for its warm smoky characteristics, cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano because you can’t make tacos without these traditional ingredients and for a little heat, chipotle powder.

I prefer soft corn tortillas for their flavor and texture. I prefer also prefer soft to the hard corn shells because the hard ones break apart with the first bite. It doesn’t mean these are any neater, which is why I eat them with knife and fork. It also allows me to pick and choose between the many garnishes to add to each forkful, there are so many to choose from!

I’ve included a couple of extra recipes to accompany the tacos, pico de gallo, a fresh tomato salsa and a lime sour cream to drizzle over the tacos. The pico de gallo has raw onions, which on occasion can be  hot or even bitter. To temper them, rinse after dicing, drain and sprinkle in a pinch or two of sugar. Alternatively, use a sweet onion, such as Vidalia.

There are many garnishes to choose from. I like to put shredded cheese over the top of the tacos and let it melt and then drizzle a sauce, like the lime sour cream recipe included here. I might top one with pico de gallo, one with guacamole and another with chopped scallions and pickled jalalpenos. If you can’t decide or want to mix it up, put little dollops of a few toppings on your plate to have something different with each bite!

Beef Tacos
Makes: four cups filling or 16 six-inch tacos

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves,
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup cold water
12 six-inch round soft tortillas, wheat or corn

Garnishes: shredded cheese, such as Monterrey Jack or Cheddar, lime sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, pica di gallo, chopped pickled jalapenos, sliced black olives, avocado slices sprinkled with lemon juice and salt, shredded iceberg lettuce sprinkled with salt, guacamole or anything else you like.

Method

Heat the oil in a four-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over high. Place the beef and salt in the hot oil and with the tip of a wooden spoon break it up into crumbles. Cook until the beef is no longer red.

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Stir in the onions and garlic, cover and sweat for five minutes. Add the ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano and chipotle chili powder, stir and cook for 30 seconds.

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Stir in the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the beef mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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Here are a couple of ways to heat the tortillas; they are ready when little air pockets puff up:

  • on the stovetop in a small frypan over high heat, about 30 seconds per side
  • microwave about 15 seconds

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Place the tortillas on a warm plate and cover with a damp towel to keep soft, adding to the pile as you go.

Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the taco mixture onto each tortilla. Fold and put on a plate or platter.

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Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese and melt in the microwave for 15 seconds or in the oven. Drizzle with the lime sour cream sauce and garnish to your liking.

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Pico de gallo
Makes: two cups

IMG_2933Ingredients

1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, about three medium
1/4 cup diced onions
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Method

Combine the tomatoes, onions, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and salt in a bowl and let sit at least 30 minutes. If made in advance, refrigerate, but then let sit out at room temperature about 30 minutes before using.

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Best served at room temperature.

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Lime Sour Cream
Makes: one-quarter cup

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Ingredient

1/4 cup sour cream
zest of one lime
pinch of Kosher salt

Method

Whisk together and pour into a squeeze bottle.

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Beef Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: four cups filling or 16 six-inch tacos
 
I used a combination of my go-to spices: ancho chili powder for its warm smoky characteristics, cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano because you can’t make tacos without these traditional ingredients and for a little heat, chipotle powder.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves,
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 12 six-inch round soft tortillas, wheat or corn
  • Garnishes: shredded cheese, such as Monterrey Jack or Cheddar, lime sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, pica di gallo, chopped pickled jalapenos, sliced black olives, avocado slices sprinkled with lemon juice and salt, shredded iceberg lettuce sprinkled with salt, guacamole or anything else you like.
Method
  1. Heat the oil in a four-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over high. Place the beef and salt in the hot oil and with the tip of a wooden spoon break it up into crumbles. Cook until the beef is no longer red.
  2. Stir in the onions and garlic, cover and sweat for five minutes. Add the ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano and chipotle chili powder, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the beef mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Here are a couple of ways to heat the tortillas; they are ready when little air pockets puff up:
  5. on the stovetop in a small frypan over high heat, about 30 seconds per side
  6. in a microwave for about 15 seconds
  7. Place the tortillas on a warm plate and cover with a damp towel to keep soft, adding to the pile as you go.
  8. Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop taco mixture onto each tortilla. Fold and put on a plate or platter.
  9. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and melt in the microwave on high for 15 seconds or in the oven for two minutes. Drizzle with lime sour cream sauce and garnish to your liking.

Pico de Gallo
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: two cups
 
A fresh tomato salsa great on top of the tacos or as a dip with chips.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, about three medium
  • ¼ cup diced onions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Method
  1. Combine the tomatoes, onions, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and salt in a bowl and let sit 30 minutes.
  2. Serve at room temperature.

Lime Sour Cream Sauce
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: ¼ cup
 
Tasty sauce to drizzle over any taco.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • zest of one lime
  • pinch of Kosher salt
Method
  1. Whisk together and pour into a squeeze bottle.

 

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