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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tacos (Beef)

We have never been much of a fast food restaurant family.  I grew up in a very small town that had no take-out food other than frozen pizza from the grocery store.  I can still remember the very first time I ever had a Big Mac and to this day I will very rarely splurge on one.  Taco Bell was established in 1962 and franchised in 1964 but it took a while to spread into Canada.  We discovered Taco Bell in the early 1980's.  It was an immediate hit as to the idea but not so much for eating there.  Tacos were novel, different from burgers and simply fun to eat.  We loved the idea of the hard and soft shells so from there created our own tacos, taco salad and a wide range of wraps.

beef tacos
What many don't realize about Taco Bell tacos is they can't be easily duplicated at home simply because the meat they use is precooked and dehydrated then sent to the restaurant.  The meat is rehydrated and warmed for serving at the restaurants.  As a result of all of this processing the meat has a texture that you can't duplicate at home.  Boiling the ground beef comes close to the Taco Bell meat but it still isn't the right texture.

We make tacos with extra lean, hormone free ground beef that is browned, drained then seasoned while simmering.  Unlike taco salad I keep the toppings a bit more simple.  Offerings include leaf lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream and shredded cheese.  I use store bought taco shells but hopefully will be switching that to homemade taco shells now that I have a tortilla press.  They aren't identical to Taco Bell tacos.  I think they are better and they do get rave reviews from our family.

Taco Bell was the inspiration for a few of our family favourites and while we seldom go to Taco Bell, we've taken those food ideas and made them our own.  I try to keep that in mind each and every time we visit a restaurant.  Each meal becomes the potential inspiration for home cooking and that's what it is all about!

3 food lovers commented:

JeanC said...

Not too mention Taco Bell's "meat" is full of other ingredients:

That said, I am hooked on the tacos from Taco Time, I love fast food tacos, but when I can, make my own at home. I usually fry my corn tortillas, which is how we ate them when growing up. Never cared for the store bought hard shell tortillas, never had the right texture or crunch I get at Taco Time or Taco Bell.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Jean :) Funny you should post that link when another came down through Twitter this morning about a lawsuit against Taco Bell:

In our little neck of the woods in Ontario, even finding a Taco Bell is not easy. We got hooked on tacos though because we tried them when they first came to our area. Given the new revelations about Taco Bell they will be on my hit list of 'don't eat there again' after seeing that list of ingredients from the url you gave. Thanks so much for the information! I'm thinking homemade tacos are a better choice for us.

JeanC said...

You're welcome. Having to give up gluten means I need to pay attention to what is put into foods and have really taken to looking at what various fast foods places make stuff out of. WAY too many ingredients in Taco Bell "meat" and having the oats listed with wheat in parentheses is a warning signal there may be a problem. Need to check with Taco Time on what they use. Luckily the two Mexican restaurants I like to go to use premium grade meat and ingredients and no fillers.

BTW, lunch today was tacos I brought from home made with refried beans (homemade) and shredded pork :D Very yummy and LOTS cheaper then fast food.