Real Tacos

Posted on June 5, 2012


When I was in Portland I ate some delicious food, but my favorite dish was definitely the tacos at Santeria.  This posed a problem.  I’ve been craving those tacos for weeks now, but there is no place anywhere near my home serving anything like them.  So what’s a girl to do?  Make her own of course!


  • 3 lbs uncooked beef roast, trimmed
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic (2 if they’re big)
  • 1 8oz can tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2-3 dried red peppers
  • 2 bay leaves

You’ll also need some chopped onion and fresh cilantro for topping the finished tacos, and some small (6 inch) white corn tortillas.  Oh, and hot sauce.  Whichever kind you like best.

Note: I made these in a crockpot.  If you want to make these on the stove top just cook them at a low temperature, stirring occasionally, until the meat falls apart.

First cut your onion into thin slices, place it in a bowl, and add enough cool water to cover completely.  Set aside.  (Covering the onions in water will help keep you from tearing up, and some people may even have an easier time digesting them afterwards.)  Cut your beef into large chunks, about 2 inches square.  They don’t really need to be uniform, as they will just fall apart in the end anyway.  Peel your garlic, cut off the hard clove bottoms, and chop roughly.  Combine garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, cumin, sea salt, oregano, and ground pepper in the crockpot with 4 cups hot water.  Stir until well combined.  Drain the onions.  Add onions and beef to the crockpot and stir well.  Place bay leaves and chilies in the pot, push them gently below the surface.  Set the crockpot on low, cover, and walk away for 8-12 hours.  (I just started mine when I got up in the morning.  It was ready when I got home from work.)

When you’re ready to eat get out a set of metal tongs and break up the meat until it is well shredded.  It should break up very easily.  If it doesn’t, let it cook a bit longer.  Chop some onions and cilantro for topping.  (If you are used to American tacos you may want to include some shredded cheese and sour cream or plain yogurt.)  If you’ve refrigerated the tortillas, warm them before serving.  Room temperature tortillas are fine.  Put tortillas and hot sauce on the table.  Serve beef with the tongs, reserving liquid for leftovers.  (More on that tomorrow.) If your tortillas fall apart easily, try wrapping the tacos in wax paper, or just use two tortillas at a time.  Top with onions and cilantro, add hot sauce to taste, and devour.

 Exercise caution when making these tacos, once you’ve had them you’ll never want to use ground beef in tacos again!

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Posted in: Cooking, Recipes