Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taco Shell Bowls & The Ultimate Taco Salad

Have all of you had one of those taco salads that are served up in many restaurants? The kind that comes in a crispy fried tortilla bowl, with all the trimmings? Well, they ain't authentic but they're good eats, arent' they?

Here's my secret recipe, which I humbly call The ULTIMATE Taco Salad, followed by instructions on how to make those nifty tortilla shells. To save time, you can bake the tortilla shells in the morning and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them. It's a little work to put this all together, but I think you'll find it worth the effort. So will your family.

Serves 6

  • 6 (8 in.)flour tortillas at room temperature
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Mexican chorizo
  • 3 slices lean bacon, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 head iceburg lettuce, torn
  • 1 head Romaine (or other leaf lettuce), torn
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 16 black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Mexican cheese (Manchego is a good choice, or crumble up some Queso Fresco)
  • Lime wedges, guacamole, and sour cream to serve on the side

Prepare the taco shells as outlined below and set them aside.

Cook the diced bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy; drain on paper towels. Drain the fat from the pan and return skillet to burner.

Cook the beef, chorizo, garlic, most of the onions, jalapeño and all the seasonings in the skillet until the beef and chorizo are browned, crumbling the meat as it cooks. Drain fat from skillet, then stir the canned tomatoes into the mix, juice and all, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down, partially cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the refried beans and bacon bits and heat everything through, uncovered. Remove from heat and serve.

TO SERVE: Line the bottom of each tortilla shell with enough lettuce to keep the meat mixture from making it soggy. Then divide the meat mixture between the salad shells and top with the rest of the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and the remaining chopped red onion. Sprinkle with grated cheese, or crumble some Queso Fresco over the top.

Serve the lime wedges, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.


To make tortilla bowls the EASY way:
Heat oven to 350.

On a flat baking tray:

  • Lightly spray the inside of 6 oven proof soup or popcorn bowls with cooking spray. Reserve 7th bowl.
  • Lightly spray each tortilla on both sides with cooking spray to soften them.
  • Carefully arrange one tortilla inside each of 6 bowls.
  • Stack filled bowls inside of each other.
  • Place the 7th empty bowl inside of the 6th (top) bowl and fill with dried beans or anything heat resistant that will weight the bowl.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes.
  • Remove tray from oven. Do not move the bowls at this point. Let them cool down, then carefully separate the bowls and remove the tortilla shells. Let them cool completely.
Often I add some fajitas, made with strips of skirt steak liberally sprinkled with adobo seasoning, grilled medium rare and served sizzling hot right over the top of the salad, or alongside it on a plate. If you're a meat lover, that's the way to go for you!

Note that this recipe can be served over tortilla chips instead of inside tortilla bowls, but then they're just fancy nachos, aren't they?

Buen Provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)