Sam Sifton’s Middle-School Tacos

We are counting down the days until the end of my son’s elementary school career. 😦 His 6th grade Graduation- a.k.a. “Moving Up” ceremony- is next Tuesday. So… it’s the perfect time to share this recipe for a popular Middle-School lunch! I’m getting him ready for his next chapter. ❤

The recipe for these “Middle-School ‘Gringo’ Tacos” was featured in a New York Times article titled “The Case for Hard Shell Tacos,” contributed by Sam Sifton. They were a wonderful upgrade from a taco kit. 🙂 I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, decreased the chile powder and red pepper flakes, and doubled the garlic. We topped them with grated cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, shredded iceberg lettuce, and chopped grape tomatoes. I served them with refried beans on the side as well. Great.

Of course, my kids absolutely loved them! Then they informed me that their school lunch tacos are served in soft tortillas. Funny. Maybe that’s an elementary school thing? We’ll see! 😉

Time: 30 minutes

For the Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola, peanut or grapeseed
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1-2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute hot or sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or beef broth, low-sodium if store-bought

For Serving:

  • 12-18 hard taco shells
  • refried beans, optional

Topping Suggestions:

  • grated cheese (I used both cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • sliced jalapeĂąos
  • chopped tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • lime wedges

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, and cook until softened and starting to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so to soften, and then the ground meat. Cook until it starts to brown, stirring and chopping with a spoon to break up the meat, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off excess fat, leaving only a tablespoon or two in the pan.
  4. Add the chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cornstarch, paprika and red-pepper flakes, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the stock or broth, stir, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. As sauce cooks, place taco shells (on a taco rack, if possible) on a sheet pan, and toast in oven until they are crisp and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Serve a few tablespoons of meat in each taco, along with whatever toppings you like.
  8. Serve with refried beans on the side, if desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Advertisements

Greens & Cheese Quesadillas

I have received an exorbitant amount of Swiss chard in my CSA box so far this season. It’s a good thing that I absolutely love it! and… Who doesn’t love chard when it’s combined with fabulous cheese?!?!

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Gabriela Camara. I have made these quesadillas a couple of times with my CSA greens, using both raw milk extra (extra) sharp yellow cheddar (from Trader Joe’s) as well as Cabot extra sharp 3-year aged white cheddar. I have also used combination of greens including Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, as well as baby bok choy.

I adapted the recipe by increasing the garlic as well as using a red onion, whole wheat flour tortillas, and chipotle salsa, avocados, fresh lime, and sour cream, for serving. I also microwaved the assembled quesadillas for a quick dinner! We ate them with refried beans on the side. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 for dinner or up to 8 as an appetizer

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola
  • ½ medium white or red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 10 ounces Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, or a combination of greens including beet, turnip, or bok choy, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • coarse salt
  • 6 ounces Toma cheese or sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 8 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • Salsa Roja, Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa Verde, or Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa, for serving
  • avocado slices and lime wedges, for serving, optional
  • sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes.
  2. Add greens a handful at a time, letting wilt slightly before adding more. Pour in ½ cup water and cook, tossing occasionally, until greens are tender, 6–8 minutes.
  3. Add lime juice; season with salt. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
  4. Assemble the quesadillas: Place on tortilla on a large plate. Mound grated cheddar on top and spread evenly. Top with sautĂŠed greens and another tortilla.
  5. Microwave for 1 minute, 35 seconds on high.
  6. Remove and slice into pieces. Repeat until all filling is used.
  7. Serve immediately with sliced avocado, prepared salsa, and sour cream, as desired.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Corn Tortillas

I did it! I have been talking about making homemade tortillas for a while. I have read several encouraging posts making the process sound so simple, but an article about tacos in the New York Times pushed me to finally do it. For a taco lover, this article is heaven! I want to try every recipe. 🙂 I made these tortillas to accompany Black Bean and Roasted Poblano Tacos. The tortillas were delicious and made the tacos much more special.

I hesitated to make tortillas because I was apprehensive about pressing the dough. It was so easy! I shouldn’t have worried. The secret was to line the tortilla press with a ziplock bag. What did surprise me was how time-consuming it was to cook the tortillas- using two skillets expedited this process somewhat. I kept them warm, wrapped in a kitchen towel, in my new tortilla warmer. 🙂 Yay! This recipe was adapted from Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel Presilla, via the New York Times. I may add a pinch of salt to the dough next time.

Total Time: About 1 hour
Yield: 15 tortillas
  • 12 ounces nixtamalized corn flour, like Maseca
  • coarse salt, to taste, optional (I used 1/2 tsp)

  1. Cut 2 10-inch squares of thick plastic from a gallon-size Ziploc freezer bag and set aside to line an 8-inch tortilla press.
  2. Place the corn flour in a large bowl. Slowly add 2 1/4 cups hot tap water, kneading it in with your fingers. Once all the water has been added, knead until dough is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. The masa should be very soft but not sticky, about the consistency of Play-Doh. If it is too dry, work in more water, 2 tablespoons at a time. If it is too wet, continue kneading until it dries out a bit or knead in additional corn flour. Masa dries out very quickly, so once it is at the right consistency, keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel.
  3. Heat a pancake griddle or a heavy nonstick or cast-iron skillet (or 2) over medium heat. The goal is a steady medium-low heat.
  4. Pinch off about 2 ounces masa and roll into a ball about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Flatten lightly between your palms to make a 2 1/2-inch round. Place one sheet of plastic on the bottom of the open tortilla press and place the dough in the center. Cover with the other sheet of plastic and press the lever gently but firmly to flatten the dough. Don’t crank the lever down as hard as you can because the tortilla will be too thin. 
  5. Flip the tortilla (still in the plastic) and press lightly again into an even 6- to 6 1/2-inch round. Place the tortilla (still in the plastic) in your left palm. Use your other hand to peel off the plastic, then invert the tortilla onto your right palm and peel off the other plastic. Gently release the tortilla onto the cooking surface.
  6. Watching carefully, cook just until one of the edges begins to appear dry, 15 to 25 seconds. (If you overcook the tortilla at this step, it will not cook properly.) Flip the tortilla and cook on the second side just until it is speckled with brown spots, 1 to 2 minutes, rotating it once. Flip the tortilla back to the first side. The tortilla might begin to puff at this stage. When it is just beginning to brown on the bottom, flip again, back to the second side, and move to a cooler part of the cooking surface, toward an edge. Let the tortilla finish cooking there until most of it appears translucent when held up to the light, 30 to 60 seconds
  7. Stack cooked tortillas in a basket lined with a large napkin that you can fold over the top, which will let them continue steaming, keeping them soft and pliable. If not using immediately, store cooked tortillas in the refrigerator, well wrapped. To reheat, place directly on a hot surface or wrap in a damp towel and heat in the microwave for a few seconds.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,027 other followers

Recipe Categories

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Top Posts & Pages

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
%d bloggers like this: