As you must know by now, I grew up in Western Nebraska. I grew up eating at Taco Town, Rosita’s and a few other Mexican restaurants that were around town. In high school, we were able to leave the school grounds for lunch. At first, we could only walk, as non of us had drivers licenses, so we went to Scotty’s for bad hamburgers and amazingly good french fries. But the instant we got our licence, we headed directly to Taco Town. Well.. as often as we had money ;) We could get a fried taco, and a cheese enchilada for about $2.00. It was perfect.
One of my brothers, who also lives out of Nebraska, and far enough away that he can’t get food like this, loves Mexican Food as much as I do. I recall one time, when we were both back in town, he and I ate lunch and dinner at different Mexican restaurants almost every single day we were there.. about a week. We just couldn’t get enough, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to get later.
The recipe I am writing about today is fried tacos. It isn’t something you find everywhere, and, as far as I can recall, I’ve never seen them on a menu outside of the interior mid-western states, though I’m sure they must be, and I’ve just overlooked it. Fried tacos are usually cooked quickly and to order – filled with the mixture, and then either toothpicks are inserted to hold the taco closed (as I do below), or the taco is held together with a special “clothes pin” type pin, and deep fried. What I grew up eating is very similar to the recipe below, except that my recipe has a spicier flavor than I remember.
This is one of those recipes I make very rarely, as it’s quite a bit of prep work for just the two of us, and neither of us really need the extra calories, but about once every 3 or 4 months, we get all the ingredients together, and have taco night.
I hope you enjoy these as much as we always do.
Mexican Fried Tacos
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-3 jalapeno’s, chopped (remove seeds if you don’t want this to be too spicy)
1 pound ground beef
ground cayenne pepper
1 can or 1 1/2 cups of refried beans
6 8 inch flour tortillas
Hot Salsa or Hot Taco Sauce
Vegetable oil – enough for deep frying.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add in the chopped onions, and saute until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add in the jalapeno, and cook for 30 seconds more. Add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the pieces until tiny. Sprinkle the hamburger with the chili, cayenne, and chipolte seasonings to taste – about 1 teaspoon each – I use more than is called for, because I like it quite spicy – but season it lightly at first, tasting it, and adding more until the flavor is what you want. Add in 1/2 cup of hot salsa and the beans. Mix well, and then turn the heat down load and allow to simmer lightly while the flavors meld. Stir occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, prep the remaining ingredients
- Lettuce – chop into small pieces
- Tomatoes, seed, and dice
- Onion, chop into small pieces
- Shred the cheddar cheese. I actually like a mix of cheese – cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.
- Slice or chop the black olives.
- Soften the tortillas lightly, if they are not already, by warming them a bit in the microwave, or in a clean, dry pan on medium heat for about 20 seconds per side.
Using about 2 spoonfuls of the hamburger/bean mix, fill the center of the tortilla with the mix. Fold ever the tortilla, and, using 3 toothpicks, lock the sides together, as is shown here:
Prepare all the tacos in a similar fashion. Don’t overfill the tortillas, or they will burst open when you eat them.
Heat the hot oil in a deep pot. I use a shallow saucier for frying these, filling only about 1/2 of the pan – however, if you are doing a lot of these (more than 4, say), this is really not the best option. And, if you have children around this is REALLY not a good idea. The best suggestion is to use a deep (6-8 inch deep, wide pot, with 2-3 inches of oil is the safest way to go. Add more oil, re-heating to bring up to temp, if necessary. Whatever way you do this, be careful of the hot oil.
Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. To keep warm, while the remaining tacos are cooking, heat the oven to 250F, and place the cooked tacos on a plate in the oven, until ready to serve, though this really isn’t necessary, unless you are making more than 8, as these cook very quickly, and stay hot and crispy for quite a while.
To serve, remove and discard the toothpicks, and fill with what ever you like.. cheese, onions, tomatoes, black olives, sour cream, cilantro, salsa, taco sauce.
These can be reheated the next day in a 375 degree oven.
For those of you that like to use the “taco seasoning” packets sold at the market, with the pre-packaged Taco Meal things, below is a recipe that I’m told is the same, but without the extra fillers:
Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. each ground cumin, garlic powder, paprika, powdered oregano and sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Makes 3 tablespoons of seasoning mix, which is equal in strength to a 1/4 ounce package of commercial seasoning mix.