Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Beef and Bean Taco Filling

My default meals--you know, the meals you cook (or make your husband cook) when you realize you forgot to plan ahead and it's six o'clock and for some reason your husband is hungry--are pretty much all Mexican.

They are, in order of time/energy/thought needed to make:
  1. Nachos (cheese on tortilla chips, melted in the microwave. Maybe some pickled jalapenos on top. If we add meat, that places it down at taco level on this list).
  2. Quesadillas (with canned chicken).
  3. Tacos with canned chicken.
  4. Tacos with ground beef.
In fact, I make variations of the ground beef tacos so often that I have branched out into putting taco meat on nachos and salads and other random things.

I could tell you that tacos make a great default meal because they're cheap, meaty, filling, tasty, relatively healthy--all of which are true.

But the real reason I make them so often is because tortillas last forever in the fridge.

So I always have them on hand.

Also a few months ago I went in on sixty pounds of ground beef with my mother-in-law, so we've been eating a lot of that.

Anyway, the problem with default meals is that they're all in my head. That is, I don't usually follow a recipe or write anything down. I just look to see what we have on hand, mix it all together, and serve.

Sometimes this means that the resulting dish, well, isn't very tasty. It's bland, or oddly seasoned.

Sometimes it means the dish is totally awesome, but I have no idea how it got that way and so will never be able to replicate it.

Having suffered through a few too many One Time Only tasty dishes, the DDH has learned a trick. If he likes his dinner, he immediately asks me, "How did you make this?" If I tell him I just made it up, he tells me to write it down before I forget.

When I  served this particular taco meat combination last week, he not only told me to write it down, he retrieved the laptop from whatever corner of the house it was hidden in, booted it up, set it in my lap, and refused to let me do anything else until I had written down what I did.

I guess that means he liked it.

Beef and Bean Taco Filling

Heat 1/2 Tbs. oil in a large pan.

Cook 1 onion, diced and 3 cloves garlic, pressed on medium heat until soft.

Add 1 pound ground beef.

As the beef cooks, add 1 tsp. paprika, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 Tbs. chili powder, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Stir to combine.

Cook five minutes or until beef is just about done.

A bit of pink is okay, as it will cook for a bit longer.
Add 1 can kidney beans,

Black beans also work well.
9 Tbs. tomato paste (there's a reason this is a weird number. It's my estimate of how much of a can of tomato paste I used (about 3/4 of one of those little cans) based on how much was left in the can afterward. Really I just kept adding tomatoe paste until it tasted right), and 1 Tbs. hot sauce of your choice (sriracha, Tabasco, chile paste, etc.).

Sriracha strikes again!
Stir to combine. Cook on low for about five minutes or until heated through.

Serve in tortillas as soft tacos, crispy shells as crispy tacos, on lettuce for a taco salad, or on chips for beef nachos. Add cheese, sour cream*, tomatoes, lettuce, and other Mexican garnishings as desired.

*I actually just use a bit of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, because I rarely have sour cream on hand. Yogurt does taste different than sour cream, but it still adds a creamy tang that contrasts pleasantly with the meat.

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