Monday, September 28, 2009

Fried Tacos

All afternoon, my house has been filled with the aroma of homemade taco sauce. Earlier today, I set it simmering on my stove, because tonight we are having one of my favorite dinners. Tonight is FRIED TACO night!!! Yeah hooray! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE fried taco night!!

In our family, fried tacos are a tradition that started back when my grandparents lived in South Louisiana. They met some friends who taught them this new way to cook tacos, and it has been the way we do it ever since. In fact, the way most people make tacos, to us, is cheating. You're not REALLY getting tacos, unless you get them fried!

So you may be wondering right about now just how in the world to "fry a taco". Well, I'm so glad you asked! Favorite recipes aren't meant to be kept secret. They should be shared, so everyone can have a chance to try it, and maybe even make it a family tradition of their own. So get ready, because when you finish reading this, you're going to want to run out and get your ingredients so you can cook and eat them yourself.

First, you need to make your sauce. It needs to cook for AT LEAST 2 hours, but preferably more, so you want to get it going early. You need:

Two large cans of diced tomatoes
One onion chopped fine
One can V-8 juice (optional)
Salt and pepper
Jalapenos finely chopped (optional)

Put it all in a big pot, cover it, and turn it on low so it will simmer. Let it cook at least 2 hours, or more if you have time. The longer you cook it, the better it tastes. Likewise, the less time you cook it, the more likely it is to just taste like tomato juice. Here is what it should look like.

Now for the tacos! You want to have all of your ingredients ready before you begin frying, because it goes really fast once you start. You don't want to be trying to find things in the middle of frying, or they will burn! Believe me, you do NOT want that to happen! So start by grating your cheese and chopping your lettuce.

After you get them ready, put them aside or even back in the refrigerator until you need them.

Next, you need to have some corn tortillas. You can use white or yellow - they both taste just as good. Take your thawed hamburger meat, and patty it on one half of your tortilla. You don't want to patty it too thick, or the meat will not cook as quickly. You need it to cook in the same amount of time as the shell.

After you have all your tacos ready, you're ready to fry. I use my large electric skillet, because I can fit 7 or 8 in at a time. Since there are so many in our family, we have a lot to fry, and I want to get finished as quickly as possible. But, you can use any kind of skillet to fry them in. When my husband and I were first married, I used my cast iron skillet, which only held 3 at a time. But since I wasn't making many, that worked well.

Pour cooking oil into the skillet to about an inch deep. You will need your oil to be very hot for them to cook correctly. Drop the open tortilla in the oil, and when the oil softens it enough to bend, use a fork and fold it over. If you try to fold it too quickly, it will break the shell.

Cook them for about 4 minutes on each side. What you want to end up with is a nice, browned, crispy taco shell. When you are ready to pull them out, use 2 forks on each side of the taco. Hold it on its side for a few seconds, while the extra oil drains out. If you don't drain them well, you're going to have REALLY greasy tacos. But be careful, because you don't want it to drop from between the forks and splatter you with oil. VERY PAINFUL! Drain it in a paper towel lined pan upside down. Putting it upside down for a few minutes helps to drain a little more of the oil out before filling them.

When they are cool enough to handle (don't wait until they're cool, though), flip them right side up, and stuff them with lots of the shredded cheese and lettuce.

Serve your fried tacos to your hungry family with a big bowl of taco sauce on the side. You can dip your taco in it, or just spoon it on top. Use the spoon to finish off the sauce at the end. It's good enough to be a meal on its own.

Here is my happy crew chowing down on theirs. Even my 3 year old loves these.

I hope you will give these a try. And if they don't turn out quite right the first time, don't give up. Try them again. It took me awhile to figure out how to make these turn out just right. But now, they are great every time, and it's something my family looks forward to with GREAT anticipation. It's a family tradition. You never know. They may just become a tradition in your family, too.

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