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Have you ever had a bunch of things kicking around between the cupboard and the fridge that go together, but don’t realise it until you find a recipe that just… clicks?
Yesterday afternoon, I did a bit of prep work.
For what, at the time, I didn’t know. I was waiting for the onions to caramelise for the grilled cheese and had some time to kill. I pulled out the package of stew meat and three of my go-to’s for marinades from the fridge, a container from the cupboard, and went to town.
I didn’t “measure” anything. I just poured each on a whim, although I did favour the Teriyaki because that’s my go-to marinade for steaks.
I reiterate, at that point, I didn’t know what I was going to make. I didn’t have the things I would need to make the Thai “pad see ew” that I had originally considered. I had no onions, no broccoli, just beef that was sitting, marinating in the fridge.
Later last night, I sat on my bed and flipped through the cookbook Josh had given me. I wasn’t looking for anything in general but came across the recipe for beef tacos. That was when things clicked.
I had the meat…
…There was guacamole to be used…
…Limes sat on the counter…
…Corn tortillas sat in the cupboard, or were they on the counter too? I forget. Regardless, they were present in the house…
…And cheese: Colby Jack and Cheddar that needed using.
This morning, I gathered everything up (although in my groggy state, I forgot about the limes, but Josh assured me that it would be fine) and took off to Josh’s house.
I had everything on the stove and cooking by 9:30. I thought it would take longer to cook, but I was delightfully surprised that it didn’t take long at all and we were able to eat by 10. Considering that neither of us had eaten breakfast, it worked out brilliantly.
Here’s what you need:
The recipe that I wasn’t duplicating, but moreso using as a theme for me to create my own from:
I set to work by cooking the corn tortillas first.After cooking each tortilla, I placed them on a paper towel lined plate. In-between cooking the tortillas, I set about chopping up an onion that I had found in the vegetable crisper in Josh’s fridge. While doing so, something unusual happened: I teared up. Please note, I don’t usually tear up while chopping onions. I can happily chop away, but not today. It was horrible. After the last of the tortillas had been cooked, I transferred the plate to the microwave, reduced the heat on the stove and added the beef in to the pan, marinade and everything. In addition to the marinade, I added a pinch of cayenne, a dash of chili powder, and a touch of black pepper.
When the onions were added, I reduced the heat and put a lid on the pan. Since the meat wouldn’t take too long to cook, I decided to check on it in ten (10) minutes. In the meantime, I grated the cheese.
The marinade had boiled down, the onions were translucent and the beef was no longer pink anywhere. I turned off the heat and replaced the lid while I pondered just how to serve this.
What came to me was beautiful and whimsical. I took the dish towel from the kitchen and laid it over the glass part of the coffee table, Josh looking over at me approvingly from the couch. He made a remark about my having found my sense of “presentation.” He couldn’t have been more right.
Getting to the point, it was delicious. The corn tortillas added their flavour and texture to the guacamole, hot sauce, beef and cheese. The beef was well cooked, yet still juicy, the warmth from it melting the cheese. If not careful, the juices from the meat and everything ran down my arm and I wasn’t afraid to spread the guacamole that I had put into each shell with the tip of my index finger. This wasn’t “prim” or “proper”, this was casual, a meal between my best mate and I. The only thing missing was the lime, but it wasn’t missed. These were flavourful and quick, to be enjoyed on short time, but not abused like I had that chicken meal.
~Recipe: Easy, Beefy Tacos~
Mark Bittman and his brilliant book provided the inspiration needed for the recipe. However, I didn’t use his. I took it, varied it, and made it my own.
- 4 TBSP Oil (I used olive oil)
- 6 small corn tortillas (“taco size”)
- Your choice of marinade (I used a blend of Worcestershire, Soy & Teriyaki sauces)
- 1 pound “stew” meat
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 TSP chili powder (feel free to use more to your taste)
- 1 TSP cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- black pepper
- Salsa (I didn’t have any on hand, but it would have been a great addition, I think)
- Hot sauce (for those who like extra spice when food is being served)
- Limes, for serving (but not necessary)
- Marinate stew meat in your choice of marinade for anywhere from 15 minutes in advance to a day before cooking.
- In a large, deep bottomed pan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
- Cook tortillas about two (2) minutes on each side. Fold them (carefully) and continue to cook until crispy looking.
- Place cooked tortillas on paper towel lined plate and repeat until all of the tortillas have been cooked.
- With the remaining oil in the pan, add beef, marinade and all, and cover.
- When it is browned, reduce heat and add the onion.
- Cook for an additional 10 minutes over medium low.
- Serve with your preference of taco sides: lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, etc.