Everybody loves taco night, and this recipe for soft tacos with beef is a surefire favorite. Tacos are so festive; they taste great, you get to eat them with your hands, and they're fun to make. If you set out all the toppings in bowls, then everybody can create their own personal masterpieces. Nobody misses out on guacamole or ends up having to pick out olives. Plus there's just something kind of kitschy about them. They are based upon an ethnic food but at the same time are as American as apple pie, featuring prominently in the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. These beef tacos are easy to make even if you prepare the filling from scratch. Pop open a few Coronas and throw yourself a fiesta.
Heat up the vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet until simmering, add the onion and cook until it is softened. Stir in the garlic, all of the dry spices and a teaspoon of salt and cook until they are fragrant, about a minute. Stir in your ground beef and cook it for about five minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Once the beef is no longer pink, add the tomato sauce, broth, vinegar and sugar. Simmer this mix until it thickens, at least ten minutes. Place the cooked beef in a large serving bowl.
Wrap the tortillas in tin foil and warm them in the oven for a few minutes. You can complete this step as your beef cooks. Warming the tortillas will make them softer and more flexible.
Place your beef mix, the warm tortillas and all of your condiments in bowls on your kitchen table. You probably already know what your family members like to put on their tacos. If you are having guests, though, or throwing a Tuesday Taco Night dinner party, you'll need to set out some standards. You should definitely have shredded cheese on hand. You can serve cheddar, a Mexican mix, Monterey jack or Chihuahua or Oaxaca, if you have access to real Mexican cheese. You should also put out some chopped lettuce and tomato, pico de gallo or another type of salsa. Offer your guests sour cream and some homemade guacamole if avocados are in season. Most importantly, for some, set out some hot sauce. If you don't eat spicy food and have no idea what kind of hot sauce to buy, pick up some Cholulu or Tabasco. These are both pretty standard. If you have hot sauce aficionados coming over, note that Sriracha is becoming increasingly popular with all sorts of dishes. Once you have the basic taco condiments down, you can add extras. Many people like olives, jalapeños and extra chopped onion. You can serve these plain or with rice and refried beans. If you have some variety, your tacos are sure to please even the pickiest palates!