I have some kind of fondness for anything Mexican. I think I just like their idea of meat, cheese and corn in many dishes. I also will always want to try making something entirely from scratch and in this case it was tortillas. I love making bread dough, the act of kneading is just so soothing that I really can’t get enough of it so why not try something slightly different but almost like making bread and pastry combined. I found this wonderful recipe from the Homesick Texan whose images look absolutely mouthwatering. There were many tortilla recipes using corn flour (masa harina) but I had such difficulty finding where any store sold this that I gave up and found a superb plain flour recipe.
The beef taco recipe I found on the BBC website, not the most authentic of places to look but it seemed quite simple enough and came out surprisingly good too. If you don’t want to make the tortillas just scroll down for the beef recipe.
Texas Flour Tortillas (Homesick Texan)
Makes: 8 tortillas
Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk
1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Then, slowly add the warm milk
2. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.
3. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
4. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
5. After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
6. In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
7. Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.
Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil.
For the beef filling
500g/1lb 2oz beef mince
1 onion, chopped
150g/5oz field mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 green pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
200ml/7fl oz beef stock
6 tbsp tomato purée
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkling of chilli power (optional)
12 taco shells/tortillas bought (or 8 fresh tortillas)
grated or shredded cheese (any kind but I used cheddar/mozzarella mix)
corn (canned or from freshly cooked corn)
tabasco sauce (if feeling adventurous)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
2. For the beef filling, fry the mince in a frying pan over a medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, or until browned. Add the onion, mushrooms if using, green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the paprika and cumin and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the beef stock and tomato purée and mix well. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. To serve, place the taco shells on a baking tray and warm them in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Spoon the beef filling into the warm taco shells, add toppings or basically whatever you like to add in and it’s ready to eat!
I actually forgot to buy the capsicum and mushrooms. So basically my beef mix was beef, onions, chicken stock, tomato puree, spices and salt and pepper. With a sprinkling of chilli powder. I probably added a bit more paprika to my liking, but it’s basically all to your taste buds. It has a nice rounded taste of paprika which went really well with the beef and toppings.
I love recipes that just let you mix it up or add what you like. Just like a pizza. I probably could have added some fresh capsicum on top, avocado spread and onions too but I think it tasted delicious like that.
The tortillas were a joy to make, and very simple too. They came out soft and light, but a bit crunchy when using the skillet. Worked out so well, I’d probably make this again and again.