Friday, October 15, 2010

Taco Night - experimental beef eating

Tacos (and more)
Home cooking

After my stint at Montezumas earlier this week, I swore of Mexican food for at least a month. Oh how quickly we forget. It didn’t take me long to overlook this vow and last night we decided to make some tacos. Originally it was going to be a pot of veggie-packed chili but I chose to complicate things and insisted on a taco night.

We stocked up at Coles and it ended up being quite a lot of groceries. It was pretty obvious at that point that the amount we were going to cook up wouldn’t be a ‘light meal for 2’. When everything was unpacked, Byron wished longingly for a larger stock pot.

I get very confused with all the different Mexican names for foods that seem pretty similar (the various wraps confuse me the most) but tacos seem relatively straight-forward. They’re the crunchy ones. That is, unless you get the soft-shell variety which is the point where I’ll retire any claims about knowing Mexican cuisine. Because, aren’t they just like a wrap??

My idea of what a taco is comes from pop culture and what I see on packet boxes as serving suggestions and what I see on TV. No claims to authenticity here and extensive apologies to any Mexicans who might be greatly offended at my interpretation of their food. I did a meet a Mexican who recommended me a Mexican restaurant in Brisbane though… so maybe I can work on my ignorance.

Until then, a taco to me is savory beef mince ladled into a corn chip shell and topped with a combination of lettuce, tomato, avocado, salsa, cheese… or all the above.

I used to have taco nights in my family as a child and I always enjoyed them. Not only because savory mince appeals to kids but also being able to customize my own taco.

We set up ours with those typical taco components minus the salsa but you can use anything really. We brewed up a huge pot and stowed away some containers for later eating (so versatile, can use as dip, on pasta, on rice and etc). If you wanted it purely for tacos, you could probably feed 10 people.

Beef tacos
Serves ~ 10

  • 1 kg beef mince
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1 x 250ml can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large capsicums, diced
  • 1 x 250ml can of corn kernels
  • 1 x 400ml can of 3 bean mix (apparently we used a larger can than this but don't now the volume)
  • ~ 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • ~ 2 tbsp powdered beef stock
  • chili flakes and chili sauce (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (we used a little block of palm sugar)
  • salt to taste
  • tacos to serve
  • diced avocado, fresh lettuce leaves, chopped tomato and cheese to serve

1. In a large enough pot, heat some oil and start browning the mince and onion.2. Add the canned tomato, water, carrot and celery.
3. Add the fresh tomato and capsicum and let it simmer for ~ 5min.
4. Add the beans and corn. Season with cumin, beef stock, chili, sugar and salt. Taste and adjust as required.5. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and vegetables are cooked.6. Heat up taco shells as per instructions.
7. Serve with taco shells, fresh veggies and cheese.

One thing I learnt about tacos is that they are a b*tch to eat. Either I have gotten more clumsy with age or there is something wrong with this particular food design.

I was all excited piling up my first taco all pretty. I did a layer of lettuce, ladled some mince over the top and then some avo, fresh tomato and cheese on top.

It looked quite awesome...

Taco explosion

Until I actually took a bite, after which the structure caved and collapsed to be replaced with a cluster of fissured shell pieces and mince dribbling down my fingers.

The next bite resulted in much the same effect.

I took at peak at what Byron was doing and saw he had just as much food on the plate (we used a cardboard box as a plate... yes, we're poor) and his face as was remaining in the taco shell.

Better stacking

I readjusted my technique for the second shell. This time, I put the fresh veggies at the bottom and mince over the top. It was slightly better than take 1. As you can see from the photo, I managed to take a bite without spilling EVERYTHING. And yes, there's sauce on my thumb but that was residual from the first taco.

Though it was a delicious meal, the whole time I was cursing whoever thought this was a clever way to eat. Maybe an edible steel-reinforced taco shell guaranteed not to lose shape after being bitten would work... but until then, I'll stick to something I can spoon out with sophistication.

Taco salad

Spurred on by this concept, Byron combined all the remaining taco ingredients in one bowl and made a 'taco salad', the whole time boasting about how much easier it was to eat it that way.

In short, we suck at Mexican food. But we tried.


  1. Ooooh, I do love taco's!! However, this is why I prefer the traditional soft shell taco's over those hard packaged ones. Home made soft shell flour tortilla's are yummyyy!!

  2. Hi eye candy carousel...
    How do you make soft shell flour tortillas at home???