You’ll need a tortilla press to make the shells for these unusual tacos. A large metal spatula is also helpful. Be sure the oil is at the proper temperature. Note: It takes practice to form the V-shaped shells without breaking them; puffy tostadas are an alternative.
Yield: 8 tacos
1 T. plus
1 tsp. cooking oil
1/2 c. minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef (85-90% lean)
1 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
1 tsp. dried whole oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
3/4 c. water
8 Puffy-Taco Shells
1 c. guacamole
1 c. shredded lettuce
1 c. finely chopped tomato salsa
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onion, and cook until it begins to soften. Add garlic, and cook another minute. Add ground beef, increase heat slightly, and cook until done, stirring to break meat into small pieces. Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add 3/4 c. water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Continue simmering over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid evaporates, stirring about every 3 minutes; keep warm until serving time. Prepare Puffy-Taco Shells. Spoon some of the beef mixture into each shell (or on top of each shell, if making puffy tostadas). Top each taco with guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and salsa.
2 c. masa harina (finely ground dried corn for making corn tortillas)
1 1/8 to 1 1/3 c. warm water cooking oil
Combine masa harina and water; prepare dough according to package directions, and divide it into 12 balls (enough for 12 shells, which allows for some mistakes). To make each shell, place a piece of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) a little larger than the tortilla press on the base of the press. Place a ball of dough onto the waxed paper just off center toward the hinges, then cover it with another piece of waxed paper. Close the press firmly to make a thin circle 4-5 inches in diameter. Heat 1 inch of cooking oil in a small skillet over medium heat until a drop of water instantly vaporizes when dropped into the oil. Remove dough round from press, and peel off the top piece of waxed paper. Invert dough round, and remove remaining waxed paper. Place dough on a metal spatula, and submerge into hot oil. Using spatula, move some of the oil over top of dough. The dough should begin to puff immediately and begin to turn golden; if it doesn’t, increase the heat. Using side of spatula, press down on center of shell to form an indentation to hold the filling (or leave shell flat if you want puffy tostadas); continue cooking a few more seconds until shell is golden brown and crispy. Drain well on paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas.
From the March 1993 issue.