Ultimate Tacos Recipe

There’s a lot you can do with tacos.  It’s one of those meals, too, where you can be on a gluten-free, casein-free diet and not feel like you’re missing out on anything.  Or, this is a meal you could serve to guests and not have them feel like you’re on some sort of weird, restrictive diet. 

This recipe seems complicated, but truly, it’s not.  Most of the prep work can be done while food is cooking, so you can fit in a lot of work in a reasonable amount of time.

If you have never softened corn tortillas with hot oil, now is the time to try it!!  It makes the tortillas chewy, strong and pliable;  they won’t fall apart like corn tortillas straight from the bag.

Note:  If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you’re better off not using oregano at all.  It imparts a very unique Southwest taste.  I find mine in the bagged spice section of the Mexican foods area of my local grocery store, for about 89 cents.   

Ultimate Tacos 

Total prep and cook time:  45 minutes
Serves 6-8

Combine together, and crush in a mortar & pestle (if you have one) 

  • 1 tsp. salt, kosher is preferable
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (or 1/2 tsp. ground)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground red chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (or more, to taste)

Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over one side of  

  • 2 lbs. boneless meat (beef, pork or chicken)

Drizzle seasoned meat with 

  • about 2 tsp olive oil, then use a pastry brush (or your fingers) to spread the oil and seasoning evenly over the meat.

Then, turn the meat over and do the same (spice mix + olive oil) on the reverse.  Grill the meat over medium-low heat until just done.  (Time will vary greatly depending on what kind of meat you use, and how thickly cut the meat is.)  When done, remove to plate, cover, and set aside.  After a bit of cooling time, later (like while the veggies are cooking), slice the meat very thinly, place back on covered plate.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the corn tortillas:

  • 20 thin corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (I use rice bran, since it has a high smoke point)

On the stovetop, heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat.  With metal tongs, dip the tortillas in, one at a time, frying for literally only 3-4 seconds, turning quickly if necessary to coat both sides with oil.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Set aside.  (I set a dinner plate up with 4-5 paper towels, folded over to make a thick “mat.”  I then cook the tortillas, laying each completed tortilla in its own corner.  After I’ve cooked four, I dab the tops with an extra paper towel to remove excess oil, then stack them on a small plate which has also been lined with a paper towel.  Then I repeat with an additional four tortillas, and continue the process until they are all cooked.)

In a larger skillet, heat 2 tsp oil (you can use the leftover frying oil) over medium heat.  Into the oil, place

  • 1/2 – 1 onion, roughly chopped

Cover the skillet and cook until the onion softens and becomes somewhat translucent, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  After onion is soft, add

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 8 oz fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

Cover again, and, stirring occasionally, cook until mushrooms and garlic are soft.  The mixture should start to turn brown as the onions carmellize.  If it has not browned after the mushrooms are cooked through, remove the lid and turn up the heat, cooking and stirring until the edges of the onions and mushrooms are tinged with a rich, golden brown.  Then, add

  • 1/2 – 1 red bell pepper, sliced

Cook only another 30 seconds or so, until the red bell pepper only slightly softens.  (If you have not yet sliced your meat, remove the skillet of veggies from the heat and slice your grilled meat now!)  Now, add the thinly sliced grilled meat to the skillet containing all your veggies.  Stir over medium to medium-high heat until the meat is heated through, and the meat with its seasonings and your carmellized veggies are all nicely combined.

Bring the sizzling skillet to the table, and serve with the softened corn tortillas.  With your tongs, place some of the meat & veggies in the center of a tortilla, fold it in half, and enjoy!

Additional garnishes may be used as desired.  Personally, I don’t use any garnish other than salsa on these tacos.  But, of course, you’re welcome to use shredded lettuce or cabbage, slivered green onion, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, or the kitchen sink.  😉

I serve these with beans and/or Spanish rice, and perhaps a green salad.  Our favorite beans right now:  Mix one 15 oz can of refried beans with 15 oz can of whole, drained pinto beans.  Heat in microwave about 3 minutes, or until hot.  Simple!


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on October 31, 2007, in Cooking/Baking/Food/Recipes, Dairy-free, GF Recipes, GFCF Recipes. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The quality of the tortillas matters. Store bought may or may not be great. I love going to the mexican little stores and buying tortillas, I don’t remember if supercenter had good tortillas in Glendale, it may have had. I do not consider corn tortillas from the big national brand good. They fall apart. Good tortillas can be heated directly on a gas stove grate and folded over and eaten, or like you said, fried, except I leave them in the oil a bit longer. I love good Mexican food, my parents were missionaries there eoins ago. Have you discovered Penzies spices? Well worth it. We have a store here, I love Mexican oregano too.

  2. Hi, Lisa! You’re right, the quality really matters. If you have excellent quality tortillas, you can just heat them like you said, and they work fine. But there’s no place (that I know of) close by that sells fresh, excellent quality tortillas. Wait, scratch that. A.J.’s, which is at 67th and the 101 carries Red Eagle, which is locally made. But I hardly ever go to A.J.’s.

    Sometimes I make my own tortillas w/ masa on my cast iron skillet, and those taste fantastic — no need to fry/soften.

    I didn’t know Penzeys had stores! I thought they were just catalogue/online. I have never tried their spices. I just looked it up — they have a store in Scottsdale. I have TONS of spices & herbs, but I’m probably too cheap to be a Penzeys regular. 🙂

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