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~ Kids Stuff: Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos ~

IMG_9037Jesse is my son.  He's in the latter stages of thirty-something now with a seven-year old son of his own.   Jesse was a really good kid.  The kind of good that makes you wonder what you did to deserve a child that sweet, smart and easy to get along with -- until it came time to eat.  Let's cut to the chase and say until he was a teen I had a very short list of 100% stressfree dinner options: pizza, pasta, bacon, shrimp, anything with ground meat, and, chocolate.  That about covers it!

There really isn't too much more to tell.  Whenever I latched onto a flavor combination that Jesse enjoyed, I did my best to prepare food using those herbs and spices as often as possible.  Next to cooking Italian food, Tex-Mex fare was at the top of my kid-friendly dinner list.  This basic but very flavorful ground beef taco recipe was created by me back in the early '80's, when Jess was around 6- 8-years-old, solely to please his finicky palate -- but his two older brothers loved them too, and, I served them "taco bar-style" so everyone in our family of five could make their own.

IMG_9261It wasn't long before I began making the meat mixture in large quantities, portioning it into user-friendly-sized 2-cup containers (enough to fill 8-10 taco shells), and freezing it to have on hand for quick weeknight meals and snacks.  Yes, just like pizza, tacos make a great evening snack for kids (and adults too). 

These beef tacos paved the way for chile con queso, burritos, fajitas and quesadillas too!

IMG_8895Note:  This is the big batch version. It makes 12 cups of taco filling.

6  tablespoons corn oil

6  pounds 96% lean ground beef

1  pound diced yellow or sweet onion

6  large garlic cloves, run through a garlic press

8-10  ounces each: diced green bell pepper and red bell pepper

2  large jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely-diced

12  tablespoons ~ Mel's Homemade Tex-Mex-Style Taco IMG_9282Seasoning ~, click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe

2  14 1/2-ounce cans stewed tomatoes, undrained

1/2  cup sofrito (Note:  Soffrito is a versatile puree of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic, culantro and EVOO.  It's the foundation of many Latin American, Portuguese and Spanish dishes.  While it is not authentic Tex-Mex, it does contain the same basic veggies and flavors common to Tex-Mex, and, I keep a bottled brand stashed in my refrigerator at all times.  It is NOT the same as Italian soffritto.)

IMG_8901~ Step 1.  In a 14" chef's pan w/straight deep sides place the corn oil and ground beef.  Prep the onion, garlic, bell peppers and jalapenos as directed, placing them in the pan as you work.

IMG_8902Add the taco seasoning. Note:  If adding store-bought taco seasoning, check the proportions and adjust accordingly.

IMG_8920 IMG_8930 IMG_8938~ Step 2.  Over no heat, give the ingredients a thorough mix.  Over medium heat, cook, breaking up and stirring frequently with a large IMG_8956spatula or spoon, until meat has lost its color and is steamed through, about 30 minutes.  There will be quite a bit of liquid in the pan.  IMG_8980Adjust heat to a simmer (medium-high) and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until almost all liquid has evaporated from pan, about 30-45 more minutes.

IMG_8998 IMG_9012~ Step 3. Stir in the tomatoes, followed by the sofrito.  

IMG_9020Continue to cook, until almost all liquid has evaporated from the pan, 15-30 more minutes.

Note:  The mixture is now technically ready to serve, however, I recommend removing it from the heat, covering the pan and allowing it to steep for about 2-4 hours prior to serving warm.

#1.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of meat filling...

IMG_9246... into each deep-fried & lightly sea-salted corn tortilla.

IMG_9293#2.  Top with shredded lettuce, salsa and grated cheddar...

IMG_9177... and enjoy until you just can't take it any more:

IMG_9198Kids Stuff:  Jesse's Favorite Tex-Mex Beef Tacos:  Recipe yields 12 cups of filling/enough for six meals of 8-10 tacos each.

Special Equipment List:  12" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; spatula; large spatula or spoon

IMG_8665Cook's Note:  If it is an adult crowd your trying to impress with some Tex-Mex food, you might want to give my recipe for ~ Tequila-Lime Skirt-Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon) ~ a try.  These are a cross between a modern-day fajita and an old-style Mexican taco and you can find the recipe in Categories 2, 10, 13, 17 19 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)


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