Everybody loves tacos, right? #NationalTacoDay is tomorrow and you gotta make sure you're prepared. That's why I have rounded up the best authentic, REAL Mexican taco recipes for you all in one spot. Because it would be a shame if you have to resort to eating at Taco Bell on National Taco Day. Let's not! Did you know there are some secrets to make real, authentic tacos at home? I am going to let you in on all the best secrets that have been passed down in my family. Because everyone deserves amazing tacos!
Tips for amazing authentic tacos
I grew up with fried tacos in a hard shell. “Street tacos” were the tacos you got in TJ or from the taco man (the guy who comes and cooks tacos at family parties). We were all about the hard shell. And no, it is not pre-formed. No self-respecting Mexican buys taco shells in a box. Here's what you gotta do:
Heat a pan with about 1/2″ of oil. Stack the tortillas on a plate one at a time, adding meat to the middle of each before stacking the next tortilla on top. This is the taco mise en place. You need tongs for this next step if you want to keep your arm hair.
Gently bend (but not too much!) the taco to dip the bottom into the hot oil. When the tortilla softens and allows you to fold it all the way in half, lay the newly formed taco on one side to cook. When it looks golden brown (not brown brown or dark brown – that's burnt), flip it over and cook the other side. Remove the from the frying pan when that side is golden brown too.
I love this local Mexican food place called Alberto's but I hate their tacos – they are always swimming in a sea of oil. Just because a taco is fried, doesn't mean we want a side of oil with it! When frying tacos, you need to drain them well before serving. We take a brad pan and line it with paper towels. As you cook the tacos, tilt them upright in the bread pan so the oil drains out and into the paper towels. You'll have glorious, crispy tacos and no grease stains on your shirt.
You can use a bakers rack like my husband did in the photo below – the key is to get the tacos tilted to the oil runs out and down into the pan below.
Growing up, we use iceberg lettuce in our tacos. Nowadays, we be all fancy, using shredded cabbage and micro greens (I can hear George Lopez gagging). Back to the real deal though. Cut a head of iceberg lettuce in half. Then slice it as thin as possible, shredding it. Wash it well. Drain. Then add chopped tomatoes and a couple Tablespoons of Miracle Whip. You can use mayonnaise but I like Miracle Whip better. Stir until the lettuce and tomatoes are coated. I like to use just 1 TBSP of Miracle Whip and then add more if I think it needs it. You can also add chopped onions. And that is how taco lettuce is done.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, makes ground beef tacos like the fast food places do. Here's the definitive guide to taco meat:
Cook before putting in taco:
- shredded beef
Cook in the taco:
- ground beef
Put cooked meat in cooked taco (usually a soft, not fried, tortilla);
- fish or seafood
- shredded beef, pork
Sofritos is not thing and neither are egg tacos. Just STOP with all that. Now you know the most important things about making real authentic tacos. Let's get to those recipes!
Ground Beef and Potato Tacos
These tacos are the taste of childhood and da struggle. But it's okay because it tastes amazing! Shredded potato makes the meat go further in big households but these days, we add the potato for flavor. It's divine! Get the recipe here: Ground Beef and Potato Tacos
The lettuce is mixed with Miracle Whip. “But Jennifer, that's not authentic.” Girl, my grandma did it this way so it must be authentic. Psssh.
Pork Street Tacos
You don't even need to know how to cook to make these. Toss a pork loin or roast into the crock pot, shred some cabbage, put it all in a toasted corn tortilla, and squeeze lime. BAM and done. Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Pork Street Tacos
Yeah, so you really only need to know how to make tacos two ways – street tacos and fried tacos. The rest is up to you!
I hope you have an amazing #NationalTacoDay. Is anyone giving out free tacos? Let me know! Ha!