Tacos are a lunch and dinner staple in our house. They are easy and tasty, which means you can give everyone a great meal without your kitchen looking like a cyclone has come through. But rather than just sticking to what one might think of as a “traditional” taco, I love coming up with new versions, finding fun ways to combine meat, cheese and vegetables atop a warm, toasty tortilla.
This recipe is the first in what will be an occasional series devoted to the taco. Yes, that’s how much I love these handheld assemblages of yummy goodness. There really is no limit to how you can top a tortilla, which also makes the taco a terrific vehicle for helping leftovers disappear from the fridge. I once made a taco using mashed potatoes and diced chicken wing meat removed from the bone. I kid you not, and it was delicious! But I digress.
Today’s taco is inspired by flavors from the middle east, an homage of sorts to many wonderful gyros and kebabs I have had the pleasure of eating over the years. Enjoy!
Middle Eastern Inspired Ground Beef Tacos
makes 6-8 tacos
one pound ground beef, 80% or 85% lean
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
6 corn tortillas
3-6 ounces sour cream
1 cup shredded lettuce, lightly packed
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup thinly sliced pepperoncinis, lightly packed
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, lightly packed
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, breaking off small pieces by hand and adding to pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes, allowing a few edges to to become crispy. Mix beef with a spoon, breaking up any larger pieces. Lower heat to medium and add salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, cook for another 3-5 minutes, until beef is no longer pink. Remove from heat, cover to keep warm.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add tortillas, 2 or 3 at a time. They should only overlap slightly, if at all. Allow one side to toast lightly before flipping. You may need to rotate tortillas around in the pan to ensure even toasting. Flip tortillas and lower heat to medium-low. Lightly toast second side. Keep warm in a clean dishcloth and repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.
To assemble tacos, place a tortilla on a plate or flat surface. Spread sour cream over tortilla, leaving the edge of the tortilla dry. Add shredded lettuce and onion. Next, add beef, about 2-3 ounces per taco, keeping meat mostly in the center of the tortilla. Finally, top with pepperoncinis and crumbled feta, to taste.