Do you know what I think has never really gotten it’s due? Mexican Style Ground Beef. I think too often at home we spice up our ground beef with taco seasoning which is fine, but you don’t get that great Restaurant Style Mexican Ground Beef flavor and the taste and texture that comes with it.
Maybe you guys know what I’m talking about? The ground beef at Mexican restaurants tastes seasoned, and it has a good amount of flavor, but it is almost neutral in flavor – a great foil for just about any sauces without taking over like our typical taco seasoned meat does. And that ground beef filling also has a softer, almost sticky texture to it. For instance, it doesn’t spill out nilly willy when a burrito is sliced into.
About Restaurant Style Mexican Ground Beef:
So while I wanted my Burrito filling to taste like a restaurant’s of course, I wanted this filling to be easy and fast, too! Asking too much? I think not! And I think you’ll love this easy well-seasoned ground beef.
I took a few cues from Mexican recipes and would call this something along the lines of a carne picada or molida, which are prepared sometimes with ground or “minced” beef, and sometimes with other proteins too. This is a good but a simplified version. I know it sounds almost too simple to be true, but trust me on this one. You’re going to feel like you’re transported to a restaurant. You might even be asking for a tip!
You’ll want to use your cache of seasoned however you want, I used some for burritos and napped my Denver Green Chili over the top. I used some for plain old school stateside tacos. Gotta love those crunchy shells with ground beef, cheese, and all the fillings – especially a little taco sauce. My gosh, I make all kinds of scratch Salsas, but I’m a sucker for Ortega on my tacos, and no, they aren’t paying me! And I just couldn’t resist a platter of nachos. You know, this beef with your fave toppings is going to beat anything you’re going to get at the bar/restaurant. Especially a version with queso instead of shredded cheese. I’ll post that queso next!
Making Restaurant Style Mexican Ground Beef:
That restaurant texture is partly because the beef is cooked in large quantities and it stays warm forever, in effect, cooking very slowly throughout the day. Ain’t nobody got time for that at home, but I’m originally from Iowa (go Hawkeyes) and one thing I do know about from eating the chilis and maid rites, loose meat sandwiches, and tavern burgers is how to get that beef the right texture. This gallery on Iowa “cuisine” (more like junk food) has a few things right.
The secret is to many of those simple ground beef dishes is to slowly cook the ground beef with a little water; the fat renders out and the beef, when finished, will be just right. And that works with thus taco/burrito beef, too. Give it a drain to rid it of the excess fat when it’s done. Because it doesn’t cook or “brown” as it does when it’s sauteed by itself in a pan you’re not going to have harder, distinct pieces of ground beef.
Then step two is to add in the flavorings. You’ll use a minimum of seasoning in your ground beef. Then you take some onion, tomatoes (use a couple of canned tomatoes if you are unable to get ahold of decent fresh ones) and one or two jalapenos. Toss that in a blender and then toss that into your beef. The bit of acid from the tomato works a bit on the beef and it will take just minutes to heat it through and cook it long enough so it won’t be watery and so the onion loses its raw taste. It really all kind of happens all at once.
Saving Time & Money on Restaurant Style Mexican Ground Beef:
It’s very worthwhile to shop strategically for your ground beef. Generally sales alternate on the different ground beefs, each dropping to a low about once a quarter. Pick up the larger family packs, or several of them and break them down to a size to suit your family. 3/4’s to a pound is usually good for most recipes, and freeze it. The idea is really to pick up enough until the next great sale, and as you get into the habit of doing so, you’ll find the “rhythm” of sales in your area.
Speaking of freezing, this is an ideal recipe to cook, or maybe double, and stash in the freezer for busy nights. Divide it up in approximately the right amounts to make what you like to cook for your family. Tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas all use less of this taco filling than, say, a big honkin’ burrito. But do what suits you. and your family.
In this case, I simply used raw jalapenos. I generally buy several (usually at Aldi where they come in a pack) at a time and roast and peel them, then freeze in little packets of one or two. They’re great to have on hand for all kinds of Mexican or Southwestern recipes.Print
Ground Beef Burrito Filling
- Total Time: 25 to 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 5 cups beef 1x
- Category: Beef Main Dish
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 2 pounds ground beef (preferably loose packed, not condensed in a chubb tube)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumim
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- a pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 large or 4 small tomatoes, stem and excess seeds removed (use any juices)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 to 2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed if desired
Add ground beef to a large pan or Dutch oven with about 1/2 cup of water and the salt. Set burner to medium heat and as the pan warms, work with the ground beef, breaking it up into small pieces. A potato masher works well for this. Continue to break up the beef as it cooks, and when water is evaporated and there is no longer any pink in the beef, drain excess grease. If necessary, more water mayb be added by the quarter cupful if the beef is still pink by the time the water has evaporated. If the heat is at medium and the beef is cooking slowly, it should be fine as is. Add the cumin and pepper, and if using, a pinch of red pepper flakes and stir.
While beef is cooking, add tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno to a blender with a splash of water if needed to get blender going, and mix until no chunks remain. The goal is to have this mixture at the ready; when the beef is cooked and the water is gone and the excess fat drained, you’ll want to immediately add the tomatoe mixture right after cumin and pepper are stirred in.
Spread the beef apart in the pan and push it up against the edges. Add in the tomato mixture at once to center of pan. It will dance and sizzle. Cook, stirring the beef into the tomatoe mixture now and then, and then pushing the beef back up to the sides until almost all the liquid is gone. Stir together final time. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired. Immediately remove from heat.
This recipe is best if beef isn’t drained after the intital cooking till “bone” dry.
Keywords: Burritos, canned tomatoes, Ground Beef, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, Mexican or Southwestern, Tacos, Tomatoes