Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(Yet Another) Paleo Beef Taco Salad

Even before my paleo and food blogging days, my family mocked my apparent inability to make the same meal twice. Whether I'm totally winging it or working from a printed recipe, I always find myself tempted to change things up: swap out an ingredient, add a few more, serve things up in a different fashion.

Now that I share my culinary adventures I'm even more inclined to get experimental, so it's very hard to leave well enough alone. My kids requested a taco night, for example, and I already have quite a few recipes that fit the bill perfectly. Instead I found myself flipping through my cookbook stash, hunting for a beef taco recipe that would somehow be new and different.

I settled upon Cooking Illustrated's version as they self-proclaim it the best beef taco filling. Not just tasty, satisfying, easy or popular. THE BEST.

I admit, it was tasty. Would I make it again? Well, based on everything I've already said it's likely I'd at least fiddle with the ingredients a bit. Perhaps I'd add some cocoa powder, as Mark Sisson does in his bison chili. Or maybe I'd make it with ground turkey and add some minced green chiles.

Regardless of the ingredients or technique, I always eat my paleo taco meat either wrapped in iceberg leaves or topped over a big salad. Tonight I went with the latter, including avocado, red pepper, tomato and olives into the mix. The beef mixture was moist enough that with just a dollop of salsa I was good to go, no additional dressing needed.

Beef Taco Filling
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped small (about 2/3 cup)
1 tbs. minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 lb. ground beef (I used Trader Joe's frozen grassfed beef)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon stevia or palm sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
black pepper

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking meat up with wooden spoon and scraping pan bottom to prevent scorching, until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, sweetner and vinegar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and breaking meat up so that no chunks remain, until liquid has reduced and thickened (mixture should not be completely dry), about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.


  1. Thanks for this recipe! I just made it and it was fabulous. Made a taco salad with red leaf lettuce, spinach, bell pepper, cilantro, tomato, and olives. Yum!