Seasoned Ground Beef Taco Filling. Everyone who follows this blog (or is a friend of mine) knows one of my favorite meals is tacos! I’ve eaten tacos since I was a kid. Taco Night was a treat and now there’s even a celebration of #TacoTuesday each week. And is there anyone out there (shudder) who DOESN’T like tacos?
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, if I remember correctly, La Victoria, Ortega and Old El Paso all had their own taco kits. The boxed kits usually consisted of hard taco shells made from cornmeal, a packet of taco seasoning, and a packet or bottle of taco sauce. Later on, flour tortillas were offered in the kits. Not many grocery stores carried what we knew as “Mexican food”. And certainly not what we ate in the “real” authentic mom-and-pop Mexican restaurants which rarely served ground beef in favor of pulled or shredded beef.
To make the “taco kit” tacos, you would brown a pound of ground beef in a skillet. When the ground beef was cooked, you would add the taco kit’s seasoning packet along with some water. Then, when the water had evaporated from the seasoned meat, it was time to assemble the tacos. You would heat the taco shells in the oven and they would invariably close up so you’d have to break them into two pieces to get them open. Or you could just use the taco shells at room temperature. After adding some seasoned ground beef taco filling to the warmed taco shells, you would top the meat with taco sauce, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and diced tomato. If you were lucky, your mom would buy sour cream that you could thin with milk or water to drizzle on the tacos after you added the taco sauce.
For those who didn’t want to make the seasoned ground beef taco filling, Old El Paso made a canned Beef Taco Filling that only needed to be heated in a pan before serving. I never had the pleasure of tasting their canned ground beef taco filling and I’m sure it wouldn’t have tasted like the fresh version.
These taco kits are still available nowadays but I haven’t purchased them for years. One of the taco kits actually has “stand up” hard corn taco shells with a flat bottom now. I do sometimes buy the boxed Trader Joe’s hard corn taco shells as they are a great price and always fresh. My husband prefers soft tacos so I buy him soft flour tortillas for his tacos.
I used to frequent Taco Bell for quick lunches. This hasn’t happened for probably 15 years though. I would order the Crunchy Taco Supreme meal that came with THREE tacos and also I’d get a side of their weird super smooth refried beans. Those weird refried beans came with chopped white onion and a red taco sauce on top along with some melty cheese. Too many of those meals were usually eaten quickly while sitting alone in my car in a parking lot. These days, I prefer to make my own “taco supreme” meals at home even if Taco Bell now allows “modifications and upgrades” to their original menu items.
My favorite manufactured taco sauces are La Victoria’s Salsa Brava taco sauce and Hatch’s red taco sauce. Whole Foods Market’s 365 Everyday Brand Chipotle Salsa is another favorite.
Since starting to “eat healthier“, I always make my own taco seasoning and taco fillings. Normally, I will make my smoky chipotle chicken taco filling or my pork carnitas for tacos on #TacoTuesday. Once in a while, I like to make my seasoned ground beef taco filling instead of the fancier fillings.
The hard corn taco shells tend to “close up” when placed in the oven to warm up. My secret to keeping them open wide is to place some shredded cheese in the bottom of the taco shell before putting the shells onto a baking sheet on their sides and then into the oven. Weirdly, it works, and the shells stay open!
My Seasoned Ground Beef Taco Filling is easy to make. Start out by chopping an onion.
Brown some ground beef in olive oil in a skillet.
Break up the ground beef in the pan as it sautes.
Add the chopped onion and saute until the onion is translucent.
Add minced garlic and two tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning (ingredients listed below).
Add a can of tomato sauce and a cup of water to the ground beef mixture.
Cook until the seasoned ground beef mixture reduces and has thickened and the liquid is mostly gone.
Now the seasoned ground beef taco filling is ready to serve!
As I mentioned previously, you may want to add shredded cheese before you heat the taco shells. Or you can add the shredded cheese to the warmed taco shells later on. Add the finished seasoned ground beef taco filling to the heated cheesy taco shells.
Add shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and my Chipotle Cream Dressing. Serve on your favorite hard taco shell or soft tortilla.
Have a party with a Tex Mex Buffet and Taco Bar for a Crowd! Add my Seasoned Ground Beef Taco Filling to your taco bar. Use this filling in enchiladas or burritos or even in taco salads.
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
Seasoned Ground Beef Taco Filling
2 T olive oil
2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 c water
2 T of my taco seasoning (see ingredients below), more if you like it spicy
1/2 c chili powder
1/4 c cumin
1/4 c dried Mexican oregano (available at most grocery stores)
1 t ancho chile powder
1 t red pepper flakes
2 t salt
Combine spices and store in a sealed container. Makes about 1 cup of taco seasoning.
1. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
2. Saute the ground beef until browned, breaking it up into smaller pieces.
3. Add the onion and cook until the onion has softened.
4. Add the minced garlic and the taco seasoning. Cook a few minutes, stirring often.
5. Stir in the tomato sauce.
6. Add the cup of water.
7. Partially cover the skillet, stir periodically, and let the beef mixture cook until the tomato sauce has reduced and most of the liquid has thickened considerably. You don’t want runny taco meat.
8. Once the mixture has thickened, get ready to serve.
Makes about 6 cups of seasoned ground beef taco filling. Offer with the usual taco fixin’s of shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, my Chipotle Cream Dressing, salsa, taco sauce and soft flour tortillas or hard corn taco shells.
Variations: Add some canned chopped green chiles and drained canned black beans for a heartier filling. This filling is great for enchiladas and burritos, too. I like to use it in taco salads as a protein instead of black beans. You can use ground chicken or ground turkey for a similar texture and taste. Also, you can used cooked lentils instead of ground meat for a vegan taco filling (I’ve tried it — very tasty). Use as an ingredient on my Ultimate Nachos.
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