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Prep 40 mins
Cook 1 hr
Driving from Florida to California late one winter, I stopped at a little place called Ray's. Never heard of puffy tacos before, so of course I had to try them. I found this attempt to recreate those tacos on the Saveur website.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 2 lbs boneless beef chuck, finely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, cored, and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 waxy potato, peeled, diced, and parboiled
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups masa harina flour, haraina
- 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
- 1 ripe tomatoes, stemmed, cored, and diced
- 1⁄4 head iceberg lettuce, sliced
- For corn tortillas:.
- Put masa harina into a medium bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups warm water and stir until a dough forms. Turn out onto a work surface and knead until smooth.
- Divide dough into 8 balls. Drape plastic wrap over base of a tortilla press. Put 1 dough ball at a time in center of press, cover with plastic wrap, and close press to flatten into a 4 1/2" disk. (Alternatively, put dough between 2 pieces of plastic and roll out with a rolling pin.) Set plastic-covered tortillas aside as made.
- For filling:.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with the back of a spoon, for 6–8 minutes. Add onions, bell peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes. Add potatoes, then stir in tomato paste and 1 1/2 cups water. Scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up potatoes with back of spoon, until sauce has evaporated, 25–30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200°. Pour oil into a wide medium pot to a depth of 3" and heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 350° on a candy thermometer. To make the taco shells, peel plastic wrap off 1 tortilla, then carefully add tortilla to hot oil. Keeping tortilla submerged in the hot oil, use long metal tongs to gently fold tortilla in half so that edges are about 2" apart. Fry tortilla just so until it holds its shape, about 30 seconds, then gently stir taco until blistered all over and edges are golden and crisp, 2 1/2–3 minutes more. Transfer taco to paper towels to drain. Repeat process with the remaining tortillas, keeping tacos warm in the oven as you work.
- To serve, stuff each taco shell with some of the meat filling, tomatoes, and lettuce, in that order. Serve with pickled jalapeños, if you like.