Classic Ground Beef Hardshell Tacos
Do you ever get a craving for some home cooking that you grew up with? No matter how strange or ridiculously processed the cooking happened to be?
Well, these Classic Ground Beef Tacos are for all of you that grew up with a taco night that consisted of taco shells from a yellow box and mystery taco seasoning from a packet.
Whipping up your own ground beef seasoning will give you a reliable taco option that you can use to quickly satisfy a hunger for the days of yore.
Chipotle Ground Beef Tacos Recipe and Ingredients
These can also be made muy rapido with very little planning involved, so it’s a perfect go-to meal after a long day of all work and no tacos.
I’ll list everything out using 1/2 lb. of ground beef (usually enough for two people), but you can easily double or triple the recipe.
Start by cooking a roughly chopped 1/2 onion for a few minutes, then add the ground beef.
Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Depending on the cut of beef, you can drain off some fat at this point if you want.
Add a minced clove of garlic and briefly saute while you gather the other dry ingredients.
We’ll be using a chipotle in adobo to create flavor that will put the seasoning pack out of business.
I usually cut off any visible stem and remove some of the inner veins and seeds.
Mince up the chipotle and add to the beef along with 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce from the can.
We’ll also add 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder. I’m using a crushed New Mexican red chile, but nearly any chili powder will do here. (Here’s some chili powder alternatives).
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt along with a couple tablespoons of water and let simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Taste for salt (I usually add a bit more than the 1/4 teaspoon).
And now for the only big decision you’ll have to make until you can eat these beauties.
Most taco seasoning packs are heavy on the cumin and oregano, giving them a distinct Tex-Mex flavor.
I tend to shy away from that flavor as I think the fresh onion, garlic and chipotle do quite well on their own, but I also fully sympathize with the nostalgic yearning for Mom’s cooking.
I don’t think you’ll miss the Tex-Mex flavor of the seasoning packs once you try this version, but just know that you’ve got the option of adding a bit of cumin and oregano just before this final simmer.
As photographed, I added a dash of cumin and black pepper, but no oregano.
Let simmer over medium heat. By the time you have the taco fixings gathered up the meat will be ready. (Note: you can also use this beef mixture to make killer Ground Beef Nachos.)
My go-to method for doing away with the yellow box is to quick-bake some corn tortillas in the oven.
I think I’ll do a separate post on options for making these hardshells at home, but for now here is an easy method:
Warm up some corn tortillas in the oven or microwave. Rub a light layer of neutral oil on them. I used Canola oil and spread it over the tortilla with a pastry brush. (You can also use cooking spray).
Then drape them over two rungs of the oven rack (375F):
In 10-12 minutes they will crisp up:
And they’ll even have a shape to ’em that looks built to house some ground beef.
I usually pull them out just before they turn fully brown. This leaves them still slightly pliable and less lethal (crunchy).
Serve immediately with the ground beef and your choice of fixings. Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese (Mozzarella or Jack), and a basic guacamole are all good choices.
I’m normally a huge fan of building a fresh salsa to go along with a main course, but this dish can come together so quickly that defaulting to a healthy dose of Valentina hot sauce usually does the job.
Adios yellow box and mystery seasoning packet?
Classic Ground Beef Hardshell Tacos
These classic hardshell Ground Beef Tacos are a great way to do away with mystery taco seasoning packets.
- 1/2 lb . ground beef
- 6-8 corn tortillas
- 1/2 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder (I used crushed New Mexican)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- dash cumin (optional)
- dash oregano (optional)
- dash black pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- fresh lettuce
- Monterey Jack cheese (or Mozzarella)
- guacamole (optional)
Roughly chop 1/2 onion. Saute the onion in a dollop of oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain any fat if you want. Add 1 clove minced garlic and saute briefly. Add 1 minced chipotle, 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce, and 1-2 teaspoons chili powder. You can optionally add dashes of cumin, oregano and black pepper.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple Tablespoons of water. Let simmer over medium heat. By the time you gather all the taco fixings the meat will be ready. Take a final taste for seasoning (I added another generous pinch of salt to this batch).
If you want to bake the taco shells, start by warming up the corn tortillas in the oven or microwave. Lightly brush them with a neutral oil (or cooking spray) and drape over two oven rungs for 10-12 minutes at 375F.
Serve the tacos with diced tomatoes, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and guacamole (optional). You can also serve them with a freshly made Salsa.
I usually pull the taco shells out of the oven before they are fully browned. This will leave them still slightly pliable.
If you want, you can use the beef mixture to make an awesome Taco Salad.
We’ve also got an awesome Mexican Picadillo recipe that uses similar ingredients.
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