(this recipe is slightly modified from the recipe my Grandma and all the other Grandmas I know used)
2 lbs ground beef (go as lean as you can I like 97/3 when I can find it)
1 large carrot
1 large onion
2 medium russet potatoes
4 cups of water and a beef stock cube (or just the water)
a couple of teaspoons of olive oil
garlic powder, cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper.
Peel and dice the carrot and onion. Peel and cube the potatoes. If you want to be more authentic omit the carrot. Or not. My Grandma didn’t use carrots, but holy crap does it make this tastier. Sautee the onion and carrot in a dutch oven until the onion starts to go translucent. You’re gonna cook everything in this dutch oven, so don’t worry about screwing up the kitchen too bad. Add the beef and get it browning. Put your 4 cups of water on to boil with or without your little bullion cube.
Once the meat starts to turn gray, add your potatoes and hit the whole mix with a little salt and a lot of black pepper. If you’ve got some Gebhardt’s chile powder, put a teaspoon of that in there, as well as a teaspoon of garlic powder and cumin each. (Or to taste. Some people don’t like cumin and you should stay away from them because they hate good things.) I use a lot of black pepper because that’s how everyone did it when I was growing up.
I was in college before I discovered spices came in any other packaging.
Once the meat is good and browned and the potatoes are looking sweaty and happy, pour your boiling liquid into the pot and deglaze that pan. Add just enough liquid to barely cover the top of your meat and veggies. Stir around the bottom to loosen up anything that might have stuck to the bottom of your dutch oven. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Let the whole shebang simmer until almost all the liquid is gone. Taste and adjust your seasonings. You should have rich, meaty tasting beef held together by creamy potato chunks. If you added the carrot, you’ll notice how much more savory and meaty everything tastes. It tastes kinda like eating a pot roast in every bite. There’s a conundrum for you meat lovers, adding veggies makes meat taste more like meat.
From here, you’ve got a variety of options. You can fry some corn tortillas in a little bit of vegetable oil, and hold half the tortilla up with tongs (not your fingers, you’re going to need them for eating). Flip it over and let the exposed half of the tortilla fry a little. You should have a U-shaped tortilla. When both sides have little brown spots like freckles take them out and drain them on some paper towels. There, now you never have to buy those crappy store bought taco shells again. Seriously, don’t buy them. Ever. You can also just warm a corn tortilla up on a griddle if you want and eat soft tacos. If your corn tortillas are hard and untasty looking because they’ve been refrigerated run them under some warm water for a second before throwing them on your griddle. This taco meat is also good for burritos, or even as a filling in some red enchiladas (we’ll get there). Serve with rice and yes, real by god pinto beans. Garnish with lettuce and diced tomatoes shredded yellow cheese or crumbled queso fresco and if you can make salsa do that or oh man, if you can get some good salsa from New Mexico where they don’t screw around with such things put some of that on there too. Serve with a cool drink. I like to drink ice cold beer with tacos. Try it, I hear it’s catching on. Your Grandma, I bet she wouldn’t begrudge you.