- ground or finely chopped beef
- corn tortillas or ready-made taco shells
- cumin. about 1 to 4 teaspoons per pound of beef (perhaps 11 to 44 mL/kg)
- black olives
- shredded mild cheddar cheese
- fresh tomatoes
Optional ingredients include:
- Chop the black olives.
- Slice the fresh tomatoes, optionally discarding the gooey parts.
- Place the olives, tomatoes, and cheese in the eating area. These toppings will need to be ready to use when the taco shells are hot.
- Place the beef in a wide pan on a large burner. Ground beef will need to be broken up as it cooks; chopped beef needs to be stir-fried and may require oil. When using high-fat ground beef you may wish to: add water to float the fat, cool to solidify the fat, remove the fat, drain the water, and reheat.
- Add lots of cumin to the beef. Cumin is the magic ingredient that makes a taco taste like a taco. You may also add cilantro, celery, or mushrooms.
- Prepare the shells. Pre-made shells should be propped up on each other and/or on cardboard, then heated in the oven. Do not brown them. Plain corn tortillas need to be fried. You may use a deep-fat process, going one at a time and using a large spoon to form the shells into the normal U shape. Pan frying in 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of oil will also work; be sure not to let the tortillas stiffen prior to being bent into the normal U shape.
- Place hot beef into a taco. To avoid cracks, it is important to do this first when using pre-made shells. The heat and moisture of the beef will soften up the bottom of the taco just enough to prevent cracking.
- Place cheese onto the beef. The heat of the beef should slightly melt the cheese. You may wish to microwave the taco a bit, especially if the cheese is cold or if you are using low-fat cheese.
- Place chopped olives, tomatoes, and any other vegetables onto the cheese.
The beef and taco shell may be cooked together in a deep fat fryer. For this, you will need to use plain uncooked corn tortillas and finely shredded or shaved beef. Wrap the beef in the tortilla, making a tube shape with enough air space to let hot oil get in. You must ensure that the beef gets properly cooked. You may wish to start from partially cooked and hot beef for safety. With the beef, you may include any vegetables that are tolerant of high heat. Serve these rolled tacos side-by-side on a plate with the heat-sensitive ingredients simply placed on top. Consider pre-melting the cheese.
Tacos, egg rolls, and tamales have similar construction. The fillings and shells can be interchanged as desired.