7/20/11 Update:
Recently in the Houston Press, esteemed food commenter "Bruce R" called these the Coors Light of tacos. Comparing my soft tacos to one of the best selling beers in the United States is an amazing honor. Thanks Bruce!! If commenters were news anchors, you'd be Isiah Carey.

Now that all the Corpse Flower mania has died down around here, I think I'm ready to deliver a follow-up to my smashing debut. But despite all the toiling with slumpbusters I've been doing recently, you should expect the inevitable sophomore slump.

Have I lowered your expectations enough? Let me be even more honest. This post almost never happened, because I seriously considered retiring after my first ever blog post.

My Spam® Crackle recipe got a mention on the definitive online source of Houston news and entertainment, The Houston Press, as well as gained the attention of Hormel's Spam® itself. I may be new to The Ferm team, but I think I've already vaulted Mr. Smokeypants, who filed a drunken live-blogging of an Astros game in his debut.

This rousing return to food blogging began a few weeks ago while I was destroying a T4 combo at the local Taco Bell/Long John Silver's franchise, which by the way goes together like money and bank. OMG, the taco is much, much greater than the sandwich! As I sporked up the last of my Mexican pizza covered in eight Fire packets I couldn't stop thinking how I'd love to find me a Latina mami that would make me delicious tacos every day. Mmmm, we'd get married, make little meximelts together, and raise them in some border town with "Nuevo" in the name. Aye, que rico!

I'm just saying, show me a great sandwich shop and I'll show you four taco trucks that are better. Plus, just try to put that corned beef with Russian dressing in your pocket. Case. Closed.

I knew my next (how you say) entrada en el blog had to be taco post.

Tacos... It's On!
Mimicking the course of my professional peers, I began by going to an expert for advice, which in this case was my Mexican friend. Readers, if you don't have a Mexican friend, get one. Seriously, what are you, racist? I also suggest having an Asian and a gay friend, but that is advice for another post. My friendo Mexicano suggested I keep it simple: Ground beef, onions, peppers, and cheese. This sounds right in my wheelhouse. Let's do this.

No fancy name this week. I'm calling this recipe Soft Tacos (partially because I don't know the Spanish word for "soft").

You are going to need this stuff:

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
    Select the percentage of fat based on your own percentage of fat. Note that the grocery never sells ground beef in 1 lb packages... feather puffers.
  • 1 Large Sweet Onion
    Or anything round-ish and labeled onion in the produce section.
  • 1 Bell Pepper
    If have a favorite color, go with that one.
  • 1 Garlic clove
    I'm assuming clove means a piece. Right? What I'm saying here is don't use the whole garlic. Pop off a chunk, wrestle it out of the skin, and use that piece.
  • 2 Serrano Peppers
    Or any pepper if you want to be adventurous. Or, don't bother using peppers… that is if you are a wusslepuff. Heat Scale: 0 serranos = I'm a pansy, 1 serrano = I like tasty heat, 2 serranos = I like to feel a little burn, Any combination with seeds = clown posse crazy.

You will also need this stuff:

  • Corn Tortillas
    Yellow corn tortillas. White corn tortillas are for fouchebags.
  • Cheese, shredded
    I'm going to say Cheddar here, mostly because I cannot pronounce most other cheeses, and if I can't pronounce it, I don't trust it. Just saying. And don't buy that pre-shredded stuff guys.
  • Sour Cream
    You know what is awesome about sour cream? It almost literally can't go bad. It's already soured y'all!
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce
    Correction, one drop does *not* do it.

STEP 1: Chop Chop.
How are your chopping skeelz? You'll know after taking care of these vegetables. If you've been using the results of that ARD you had in 4th grade as an excuse to stay out of the kitchen, then consider utilizing some chopping tools that include safeties. Better safe than bloody. That's what I always say.

STEP 2: Sauté the Vegetables.
Does the word sauté scare you a bit? Don't sweat it. Let me hold your hand. Toss some oil (1 tbsp) or butter in a pan, set the heat at mid to mid-high, transfer your veggies to the (preheated) pan, sprinkle some salt on top, and give those guys an occasional stir. Keep this going until they all look soft (these aren't crunchy tacos, amigos). Once your onions and peppers look good (~10 minutes), pitch in your garlic and peppers (1 minute). Stir into the veggie mixture and grab your meat.

STEP 3: Brown the Beef
Assuming your meat is pretty fresh or you didn't buy it at that grocery store chain that rhymes with a giant who likes to eat human beings (hint: think Shrek), your next step is to make your beef brown. Shove your veggies to one side of the pan and chuck that meat in there. Did you salt and pepper your beef? You should have. Don't you watch the Food Network? Use your cooking utensil to break that meat ball up, and then start mixing in the veggies. After everything looks sufficiently happy and you've neutralized all the e coli your butcher tried to kill you with, turn your heat down to low and let's go get those tortillas ready.

STEP 4: Prep the Tortillas
If your Mexican friend is as smart as my Mexican friend, he would have told you that dipping the corn tortillas in hot oil is the way to go. And if you are reading this post, I'm guessing you probably make pretty good use of your microwave already. Let it rest tonight. Dipping the tortilla in hot oil softens it, but the oil also helps keep the fragile tortilla from breaking. Genius. More fat! That is why his people will take over the world in the not so distant future… that and their strict code of tacos before gringos.

Pour an eighth to a quarter inch of oil into a small frying pan, and turn the heat up to medium-high to high. When the oil is hot but not smoking like an Indonesian baby, carefully dip each tortilla into the oil (with tongs, not your fingers). When the tortilla begins to puff up a little, flip and wait a few moments, then take it out and lay it on a paper towel. Don't keep it in the oil for too long or you'll be having tostadas tonight. Repeat for the rest of your tortillas.

STEP 5: Assemble the Taco
You've made it this far, now follow these steps to success.
  1. Line up 3 tortillas on a plate
  2. Scoop the beef mixture in each one
  3. Douse with Louisiana Sauce
  4. Sprinkle cheese on top
  5. Add a dollop of sour cream to each taco

As I'm typing this very sentence, I know what you are saying to yourself. It is almost as if I'm sitting right behind to you and we are exchanging thoughts by means of a Vulcan mind-meld. You are thinking, "I didn't make the Spam® Crackles, and I'm not making these tacos." Relax, open a Tuesday wine, and let this FAQ ease your reservations.

The Aimless Chef's Soft Taco FAQ:

Uh-Uh mijo. ¿Are jue keeding me?
These tacos are good, senor. Sure, they certainly aren't my future Latina mami's tacos, but I'm super styked at the results. So while mi amor is all deeply rooted in tradition and probably laughing at my dish with that sexy Latin accent, I'm not ashamed of my soft tacos. Plus, I think it is good for lovers to have some differences anyway. For example, I'm not really in to cleaning.

Tacos are all about the garnish. Where the heck is the garnish?
When I prepared the dish for this post, I invited my Mexican friend, Asian friend, and gay friend over for taco night. Only my amigo showed up. Whatev dip switches. So my new best buddy says something like, "You forgot the bell pepper, homes!" Not so fast my amigo, I chopped it up and put them up in the meat. Did I make a mistake? I prefer to call it a trivial alteration, or more self-righteously, a revolutionary discovery. Yeah, my head is enormous, but it's not nice to make fun of someone's literal or figurative appearance. What's next?

¿¡Louisiana Hot Sauce!? Gringos *sigh*
Put down your chilies chicos, Louisiana Hot Sauce goes with these soft tacos just like those little Jack in a Box sauce packets pair exquisitely with their tacos. Don't question. Just put it on there. ¡Mira! I'm white and grew up in burbs of Houston, TX. Louisiana sauce is like my gravy. And "gringo" means foreigner anyway, so who is the gingo in my casa, eh? Usted.

On second thought, I'm starting to think this mind-meld FAQ section was a really bad idea. All I'm trying to say is that these soft tacos are something between good and life changing.

Remember that moment in the mid-nineties when you heard Stone Temple Pilots' Interstate Love Song on the radio and it changed your whole outlook on love?

These are the Interstate Love Song of soft tacos.

Ladies, I'm single, leave your digits in the comment section. Good appetite my amigas. ¡Coma Usted!