Daddy’s Girl by Robin Nathan

My sister’s oldest daughter got married a couple of weeks ago and my entire family came together to celebrate. We are pretty spread out these days – from Mexico to the Cayman Islands, and many points in between. I got to spend a lot of time with my dad, and with Father’s Day this Sunday, I’m remembering a special memory I have with him.

PicoOn Sunday mornings when I was very young, my dad would take me to run errands. My mom, sister and brother would stay home, and it was special to be the “only kid” for those few hours. On the way home, we always stopped at a little taco shack near our home in San Pedro, in the south bay of Los Angeles. We’d always get little beefy tacos with plenty of cheese melted in, wrapped in freshly made corn tortillas. My dad would douse his in lots of hot sauce, but I didn’t have the palate for heat — yet. I covered mine with fresh pico de gallo. Just one bite of a fresh beefy, cheesy taco takes me straight back to those times. Isn’t it wonderful how a taste of something so simple can melt the years away?

Here’s my recipe for Picadillo Tacos, aka Beef Tacos. Enjoy!

Picadillo Tacos
Yields 6
For the Tacos
  1. 1 T. corn oil
  2. ½ pound ground chuck or sirloin
  3. salt to taste
  4. ½ white onion, diced small
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. ½ jalapeno, minced
  7. ½ t. ground cumin
  8. ½ t. chile powder
  9. ½ t. ground coriander
  10. 4 oz. Asadero or Chihuahua cheese, grated
  11. 6 thick corn tortillas, warmed
For the Pico de Gallo
  1. 2 Roma tomatoes, small dice
  2. ½ white onion, small dice
  3. ½ serrano or jalapeno chile, minced
  4. handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  5. juice of one large lime
  6. salt to taste
  1. Heat the corn oil in a large skillet; add onion and cook over medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and dried spices and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and continue cooking, breaking up the meat to a crumble and seasoning with salt. When the meat is nearly cooked through, add the cheese and stir through until it’s melted.
  2. Combine all ingredients for Pico de Gallo.
  3. Pile meat mixture onto warmed corn tortillas and garnish with the Pico de Gallo, additional grated cheese, and sour cream.
  1. Here’s a trick – serve the beef and toppings on the tortilla, but don’t fold it up. Let your diner do it – somehow the taco holds together better that way.
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