This is tacos the way my family does it. My grandma’s tacos… The tacos of my childhood. We, my cousins and I, gave them the moniker “Okie Tacos” as teens, much to my grandma’s chagrin. She said “They aren’t Okie tacos! I learned to make them from my neighbor and she was Mexican!” When the Rock Star came on the scene, he likened them to the jack in the box taco, saying that they were the “gourmet version”. Comparatively speaking, I get the use of the word, but there ain’t nothin’ gourmet about these tacos. Likewise, there’s nothing low-cal or diet either. They are greasy and cheesy and like my grandma said “If you don’t have a steady stream of grease and sauce dripping from your elbow while you eat, you didn’t make them right.” Ok, grandma! I hear you, juicy, greasy, cheesy goodness coming right up!
My folks came for a visit and we decided to make these together. Being in the kitchen is my comfort zone but being there with my mom, champagne in hand, is pure bliss! Barry Manilow (Yep! We’re fanilows!) playing, two work stations, she prepped the shells, I cut the vegetables… Two fry pans going. Good times and the tacos hadn’t even gotten to the table yet! Like every vacation of my childhood, we worked side by side to bring these tacos to the family. Nostalgia makes even the most delicious food even better.
You will need the following:
- 1 lb ground beef (I don’t recommend subbing turkey for this)
- 20 corn tortillas
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 20 generous slices of cheese (approximately 1.5″x3″ and 1/4″ slices. About the size of typical store bought cheddar)
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1/2 cup Italian dressing
- Toss lettuce, tomatoes and onion with the Italian dressing in a salad or mixing bowl and set aside. You may leave the onions on the side if you have folk who don’t like them. Also, the easiest way to completely coat the salad filling is to use your hands. This is messy business!
- Press a small amount of ground beef into half of the tortilla. You will have a half moon shaped meat patty. This needs to be thin, like a quarter of an inch at most. Again, use your clean hands! Messy, yo!
- Stack the meat and tortillas alternating meat sides and generously salt and pepper the meat. Trust me on this, salt and pepper well as much of it will melt away during the cooking.
- Ad a quarter cup of vegetable oil to a pan and heat it over medium high heat. When a drop of water sizzles, it’s ready.
- Place “tacos” meat side down in the hot oil. About a minute later, flip meat side up and fold the meatless half of the tortilla over. Continue to fry each side until they begin to crisp. Add a slice of cheese, drain the excess oil and remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet, cheese side down. Continue this until all tacos have been fried. If needed, keep the baking sheet of tacos in a warm oven until frying is complete.
- Once your tacos are cooked, you will stuff them with the salad filling all at once and serve with your favorite taco sauce immediately.
Side note: This image is so compelling… I know they are my mom’s hands but they are also my grandma’s 🙂
There is no need for side dishes like beans and rice with these tacos. They are the whole enchilada! So to speak! Growing up, various friends and boyfriends passing through our tribe have had their minds blown by these tacos. My cousin’s boyfriend Dan is somewhat legendary in his taco eating exploits… I’m not certain of the number because it’s changed and no doubt, been exaggerated over the years. It was an insane number, though… Like ten. Seriously, a lot of tacos went down the gullet of Dan Dan the produce man (guess what he did for a living?) and countless tacos since, have graced many gatherings of family and friends. I hope you will try tacos our way and I hope they will be enjoyed with the people you love the most. Swearing Mom out.