Moneyman writes: I ate a burger for lunch (it was Friday!), but I’ve ground beef at home for dinner and want to go in a different direction. Maybe Tex-Mex – I have garlic, avocado, and onions and a full spice drawer.
Tony’s take: It is Friday, so live it up, Moneyman. I’d go soft tacos with what you’ve got – but make them fresh and intensely flavored, not stale like those spice packets from the box. Serve it with some fresh guacamole and maybe some Spanish rice. Pick up some Coronas and go crazy.
How to do it:
Make a spice mix for the beef: In a small bowl, mix kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) with light sprinklings (about 1 to 2 teaspoons each) of chili powder, cumin, and oregano with a lighter sprinkling (maybe 1/2 teaspooon) of black pepper, chipotle powder (if you have and don’t mind a little heat), and sugar. Maybe even a pinch of cinnamon to give the mix a light twist.
Brown the beef: Use a large skillet for this, preferably nonstick. Heat a splash of olive oil (about 1 Tbs.) or canola oil with 1 garlic clove (minced) over medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle steadily and becomes fragrant and just light brown at the edges, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the beef (about 1 to 1 1/2 , around 85% lean would be best – saute it with a little more oil if the beef is leaner than this) spreading it out in a single layer, and cook for 1 minute without touching so it starts to brown. Then cook, chopping the beef up with a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until it loses most all of its raw color, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the spice mix and cook, stirring, until the beef is completely cooked through and the spice mix is evenly dispersed, about 2 more minutes.
Serve: Spoon the beef into warm corn tortillas (zap them in the microwave) with some diced tomato, onion, and the guacamole (mash 1 avocado with the juice of 1/2 lime – add more if you like -, about 1/4 cup finely diced red onion, some chopped cilantro, a little diced jalapeno if you have and plenty of salt to taste) and some sort of rice.