"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mama's Tacos and Tortilla Chips

This is the story I was told growing up that goes along with the recipe: Father Hairball was drafted into the Army in 1959 a few months after he and Mama Hairball were married. One of the places he and Mama Hairball lived during the Army years, was Germany. While there, Father and Mama Hairball befriended a young man of Hispanic heritage. The poor man was quite homesick for the tacos that his Mama used to make for him. He didn't cook, but had watched his Mama make them many times and thought he could instruct someone else to make them. A deal was soon struck that Mama Hairball would make the tacos for him in exchange for the recipe.

When Father and Mama Hairball returned to the states, Mama Hairball started making these tacos at gatherings. Everybody who had them was crazy about them. -Have you figured out yet that that my family likes to eat?

Mama's Tacos

I'm going to apologize in advance as this is one those recipes where I can't give exact measurements. Sorry!!

1 pound hamburger
18-20 corn tortillas
canola oil
paper towels
electric skillet or regular skillet ( if you have one skillet that is deeper than the others then please use that one!)
something lined with paper towels to hold the finished tacos

We will be using hot oil today so lets not emulate Sandra Lee and put on long flowing sleeves and let our hair down while making this, okay? I'm guessing on how many tacos I get out of a pound because I just pull out a stack of tortillas and whatever doesn't end up as tacos is fried up for chips. Tear off about five paper towels and use them to line your container for the finished tacos. If you don't have people coming into your kitchen and stealing them as soon as they are cool enough to handle, let them drain a bit, transfer them into an oven safe container, and keep in a low oven ~200F or so until you are ready to eat.

Divide your *raw* hamburger up into about 18-20 pieces. If you'd like to count I have 19 pieces in the bowl.

Then pat it out onto one half of your tortilla and repeat until you have used up all of your meat.

Add your oil to a large skillet until it is about 1/2 inch deep. Heat up your oil on medium high heat until a tortilla dropped into your oil sizzles and bubbles but the oil is not smoking. If your oil is smoking your heat is set too high so please turn it down. I'm making chips too so that's why the 'good sizzle' pic is of 1/4 of a tortilla.

Now **carefully** slide a tortilla into the hot oil meat side up and use your spatula to **carefully** flick some hot oil *away* from you onto the top of your tortilla. Let it fry for a few seconds and then **carefully** fold the side without meat on it over on the the meat side so it looks like wait for it....a taco. Once again **carefully** flick some oil on top of your taco or use your spatula to push it under the oil for a bit. Let the taco cook for a little while ( I know, I'm sorry!) and **carefully** flip it over and cook on the other side. When they are done, the edge of the meat will look dark reddish brown and the tortilla will be hard.

Here's a quick video I made that you may find helpful. Sadly, my inner Sandra Lee came out as I was addressing the taco. *blushes*

Cook as many at one time as your pan can handle and you feel safe attending to. Don't freak out if your tortilla tears or the meat falls out while cooking them. If you can get the meat back inside with your spatula do so and if not don't worry about it. Just fish it out and plop it on the tortilla it goes with in your holding area. Serve the tacos with whatever you like on your tacos.

Getting them open to put your preferred toppings on can be tricky. Mr. Hairball prefers to just break them open, put on some salt, sour cream, and taco sauce and replace the broken off piece, and turn it horizontal and eat it like a sandwich. If I'm careful, I can get them open enough to stuff in some cheese and whatever else looks good to me that day and eat them like people do normal tacos. It's up to you as to what method you prefer.

If you have any leftover tacos, reheat them on a sheet pan in a 350F degree oven for about 10 minutes. You know how ovens can vary so keep an eye on them so they don't burn! Open up the oven and if you hear sizzling, they are probably done.

Tortilla Chips
skillet or electric skillet
hot oil
paper towels
sheet pan or other container

Take your tortillas and fold or tear them into quarters. (If you want to cut them so they look all pretty then knock yourself out.) ***Carefully*** add several chips to your oil and fry on each side for about a minute or so. Remove from oil with your spatula and place on your paper towel lined containment vessel.

I apologize that this picture is so blurry. Please just try to focus on the color of the chip for reference. Sprinkle your hot chips with salt, garlic salt, etc... if desired. Serve with salsa, guacamole, etc..


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