Mexicana! Ole! Bueno!

9 Jun

Clearly, I speak very limited Spanish. I’m not even sure the third word is Spanish. But luckily today’s post isn’t on a language I know very little about and instead on something I do.

On this particular evening, we’d decided to go with an easy fallback: spaghetti bolognese, or ‘spag bol’ as I often call it, despite loathing the name and the images of spitting in a bowl that it conjures up. My flatmate was going to a night class, I was home late from uni (and pretty useless in the kitchen past 7pm) and the easiest option we could think of was the old Italian classic.

I was all set to pick up some spaghetti and tinned tomatoes from the supermarket and was even in the middle of doing so when our guest for the evening decided to seriously shake things up. He wanted tacos. I wanted to go home. So I avoided an international food fight by just agreeing with him and getting tacos and, well, tinned tomatoes instead.

The principles behind spaghetti bolognese and tacos are essentially the same. Well, the authentic kinds probably aren’t but the student kinds are. The basic ingredients don’t really change, it’s just the seasoning and obviously the accompaniments that do. If you can cook a mean spag bol (eugh), tacos or even burritos, fajitas and any other Mexican things should be easy enough.

I know the spices used aren’t really authentic (lending themselves more to a Moroccan or Indian dish) but the general flavours are there. And when your taco is smothered in cheese and sour cream, who can really tell the difference?

Components for tacos.

Taco mince - apologies for the terrible lighting.

Tacos

Serves 4

1 TBSP olive oil

1 medium brown onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1kg beef mince

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 TBSP tomato paste

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

12 taco shells

1 jar taco sauce

2 carrots, grated

torn up lettuce (which I don’t really know how to quanitfy)

3 tomatoes, chopped

300ml sour cream

1 cup grated cheese

1. Heat up the oil in a large frying pan.

2. Add the onions and garlic and fry until soft.

3. Add the mince and fry until browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the tinned tomatoes, stir through and cook for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, put the tacos in a 160C oven to crisp up.

6. Back to the sauce, stir through the tomato paste and spices (except the coriander).

7. Season to taste. If it’s a bit sour, often a little pinch of sugar can help temper that. Just taste and season accordingly.

8. Add the coriander and stir through. Leave the whole thing to bubble and boil for a few minutes.

9. Put all the taco components in little bowls.

10. Take the mince sauce off the heat and serve. I won’t take the liberty of telling you how to serve tacos. That’d just be insulting.

NB: I strongly advise against serving this meal if you’re trying to woo someone. It’s not the most attractive look when meat is dribbling down your chin and sour cream has made its way into your hair.

Also, if you’re vego or vegan, the meat can easily be substituted by two 400g tins of beans and the sour cream and cheese either omitted or replaced with vegan options.

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