Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole 01

I’m not a fan of “canpacket” recipes, you know the ones that call for a can of this and a packet of that? However, my Aunt was taught this recipe in home economics back in 1979. She brought the recipe home and people in my family have been making it and passing on the recipe to other family members ever since. My Mother made this often when I was growing up. It is a thing I crave, but can not reproduce without the use of packaged convenience foods. I only make it about once every year or two, it is definitely a comfort food for me. Despite its canpacketiness, it’s delicious. I’ve never known anyone to try it and not like it. Yes, it is basically cheater enchiladas… but then again they’re not. It’s hard to explain how they taste, you just have to make them and try them. Oh, and definitely use the brands listed! If you don’t it won’t be right. ESPECIALLY the La Vic Taco Sauce!!! Seriously, use the La Victoria brand! I was so desperate once for this when I lived in England, that I made it with Salsa and Bisto. I ate a bite, spit it out and cried.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz La Victoria Red Taco Sauce
  • 8 oz can of Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can of Campbell’s beef gravy
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb of 20/80 ground beef
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 x 8 oz (2 cups) packet of grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

Prepare the tortillas – pick ONE method!

The original method gives the best texture and flavor, the quickest/easiest method is still good but can be a little mushy in the finished dish. The in-between methods are good too, it just depends on how much time and effort you want to spend on the tortilla prep portion of this recipe. Remember, the original will take you about 20 to 30 minutes, the microwave method takes about a minute, but the flavor/texture is different.

  1. Original: Heat a half-inch of vegetable oil in a small 8″ frying pan, once hot and shimmering, carefully slide in the tortillas once at a time with a pair of tongs. Only cook the tortillas until they are soft and starting to puff, don’t brown them. Put them between paper towels or paper napkins to drain. Add more oil as needed.
  2. Faster: Fry tortillas one at a time in a very hot nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray or a drizzle of veg oil. Only cook them long enough so that they are heated through and roll without breaking. Stack on a plate and keep warm till needed.
  3. Faster & Easier: Spray or rub a little oil on the tortillas, bake them right on the oven rack. Only cook them long enough so that they are heated through and roll without breaking. Stack on a plate and keep warm till needed.
  4. Fastest and Easiest: Put into a microwave safe tortilla warmer or covered bowl and “nuke” until soft enough to roll without breaking.

Once you sort out what you are doing with the tortillas, do that and then proceed…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f and lightly grease an 8″ square baking pan.
  2. Combine the gravy, tomato sauce and taco sauce (I measure the taco sauce by filling the tomato sauce can) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat just as it starts to boil, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. Once no pink remains, put into a colander to drain the fat.
  4. Add the onion to the pan and fry cook until soft. Once they are soft, add the garlic and the cooked beef. Cook stirring constantly for a minute. Season with salt & pepper (to taste).
  5. Roll a few tablespoons of the beef mixture into each of the tortillas, top with a tablespoon of cheese and roll.
  6. Place the rolled, filled tortillas into the prepared baking pan. Lining them up in a row, then put a few on the side and for the last one, don’t roll it, just put the filling into the center of it and create a sort of dumpling shape out of it, turn it over and put it in the little unfilled square.
  7. Adjust the filled tortillas so they make a flat(ish) even surface, and you should have a perfectly filled baking pan.
  8. Carefully pour over the sauce, then sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
    Bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is bubbling hot.
  9. Let stand for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes 4 to 6 Servings – Best served with beans & rice.

Notes

  • Half cheddar, half jack cheese or a Mexican blend is nice in this recipe too… and yes, you can grate your own cheese.
  • Yes, you could use a different size/shape pan and avoid the “dumpling”. I personally don’t own a 6″x 12″ pan. If you do, let me know where I can get one!

Taco Casserole 03 Taco Casserole 02