Spice up your life with these tacos

If you happened to go out for dinner last night, there’s a good chance the meal involved tacos, those meat-filled soft- or hard-shell wonders that are as popular in the United States as they are in Mexico. And if you were out celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I bet at some point between bites of your treat you thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to make these at home?”

Good news, amigos: Tacos are totally easy to make. More precisely, today we’ll conquer the ground meat filling, which in addition to being the main attraction in a tortilla or crunchy taco shell, can do double duty bulking up tostadas, nachos, burritos or even a salad.

Making your own taco meat is surprisingly simple and surprisingly cheap: Plan on serving a family of four with it for about $5. The filling can be made in under 30 minutes and tailored exactly to your liking, from mild to super spicy.

Ground beef is the ingredient of choice in many a taco, but I prefer ground turkey because it contains less fat and is even easier to cook since you don’t have to drain the grease that comes with beef. Add some zest with onions and peppers, along with tomatoes, corn and spices, and any night can be taco night at your casa.

Ready to get the fiesta started? Let’s make some tacos

Spice Up My Life Turkey Tacos

(Serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.25-pound (20-ounce) package of ground turkey
  • Half of one red onion, chopped
  • 2-5 fresh jalapeño or serrano peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup canned or frozen corn kernels
  • Choice of tortillas or crunchy shells
  • Garnish: Fresh cilantro
  • Music for while you cook: Today I’m in the mood for Angels & Airwaves’ We Don’t Need to Whisper

Step 1: Grab a pan that is at least 10 inches wide and has a lid (a medium-size pot also works), heat on medium for a minute, then add the oil and coat the bottom of the pan. The oil will help the ground turkey not to stick. Do the same if using ground chicken, and skip if you’re using ground beef.

Step 2: Add the turkey and break it up well with a spatula. Cook for five minutes, stirring and turning every minute. While the meat cooks, cut the onion and peppers, and make sure to wash your hands, utensils and cutting board if anything touched the raw turkey.

Step 3: After five minutes, or when the turkey starts to turn white (or the beef browns), add the onions, peppers and spices, stirring to combine. If you like it mild, only use a couple of jalapenos. If you prefer spicy, go for the serranos – they are hotter. Cook for another five minutes, stirring every minute. Oh, and don’t touch your eyes after handling raw peppers. Again, wash those hands.

Step 4: Dump in the canned tomatoes with their juice and the corn, give everything a stir and cook for a couple of minutes. If you’re using frozen corn, defrost it first so you don’t bring down the temperature in the pan. The corn will add some crunch and sweetness to the mixture, in addition to making it go farther for your money.

Step 5: After a couple of minutes, give everything one more stir, cover and cook on medium-low heat for another five minutes or until the meat is done. Try the filling and, if necessary, add some salt or spices to suit your tastes.

Congratulations: You’ve just made a healthful, inexpensive and delicious taco meat filling. All that’s left is to scoop it into awaiting tortillas or shells, garnish with cheese, salsa (try this homemade version!) and your favorite fixings, and indulge.

Did you try this recipe? Write about your experience, ask questions or share advice in the comments area below.

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1 Comment »

  1. I Want To Cook » Easy Cheesy Enchilada Casserole will spice up your life said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    [...] making it, try other fillings like pre-cooked chicken, mushrooms, pre-cooked ground meat (like the turkey we made for tacos) or even [...]

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