Most kids grow up learning how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so they can help themselves in the kitchen when they want some lunch. In our family, it was cheese tacos.
Cheese tacos are our stand-by what-do-you-make-when-you-haven't-really-thought-about-it-in-advance lunch.
There's always a stack of corn tortillas in the fridge. There's almost always cheddar or jack cheese.
I've noticed that most of my friends regularly make a quick sandwich for lunch. Maybe once a month I'll make a sandwich. Three times a week I'll make cheese tacos. (What? You don't have a stack of tortillas in your fridge?)
You Can Put Anything in a Tortilla and Call It a Taco
Usually cheese tacos just have cheese in them. Add some salsa and you're done. My cheese tacos tend to be a little more elaborate. I stand by my rule that you can put almost anything in a tortilla and call it a taco.
(Note that in many parts of Mexico, what we are calling a cheese taco would be considered a quesadilla. In Northern Mexico however, and for most of in the U.S., quesadillas are made with flour tortillas, not corn tortillas.)
Here's my very special cheese taco recipe. My grandmother made cheese tacos this way; my mother still makes cheese tacos this way.
Cheese Tacos Secret Ingredient
What's the secret ingredient that give these cheese tacos such good flavor? The ingredient my mother, grandmother, and I have insisted on using with these tacos our entire lives?
Butter usually does make everything better, right? There's no exception here. We butter the corn tortillas before softening them up in the frying pan.
We usually eat corn-on-the-cob with butter, don't we? Same idea.
As for the extra cheese taco fillings? I'm the only one in the family who puts slices of apples in her tacos which usually prompts turned up noses from everyone else. Like I said, you can put anything you want in a tortilla and call it a taco, and I like apples and avocados in my cheese tacos.
This method makes delicious, buttery, cheesey tacos. If you are avoiding butter, or frying oil (which you could also use), you could make these in a microwave. Soften the tortillas first in the microwave. We use 20 seconds on high per tortilla, with the tortillas sitting on a paper towel in the microwave to absorb moisture. Once they've been softened this way you can add cheese and fold them over and heat them a few seconds more, just until the cheese melts.
- Corn tortillas (as many as tacos you want to make, packaged or homemade)
- Cheddar or jack cheese
- Salsa ( homemade or prepared)
- Strips of cooked chicken, beef, or pork (a great use of leftovers)
Heat the pan, prep the ingredients:
Heat up the cast iron frying pan on medium high heat. While the pan is heating, prepare your ingredients. Cut some slices of cheese. Get the salsa out of the fridge. Thinly slice as many slices of apple as you want tacos. (3 tacos, 3 apple slices). Cut, remove seed, slice, and remove from skin the avocado slices you want. Slice some lettuce and any leftover meat you want to add in.
Butter a tortilla and heat it in the pan until it bubbles:
When the pan is hot (sprinkle a few drops of water on it, they should sizzle) lightly butter one side of one tortilla and place it in the pan, butter side down.
Using a spatula, quickly flip the tortilla over to the other side, and back again, repeating until there is melted butter on both sides of the tortilla.
Let the tortilla sit in hot pan until pockets of air start to form bubbles in the tortilla.
Add slices of cheese to one side of the tortilla. Make sure to allow room for the cheese to melt and not spread all over the pan.
Flip half of the tortilla over the cheese side:
Flip the side of tortilla without the cheese over the side with the cheese, as if you were making an omelette. Move the folded cheese taco to one side of the pan. Add a second tortilla, lightly buttered on one side, and repeat the process. You can tell when the taco is done by pressing down on it with a spoon or fork or edge of the spatula. If it gives easily, the cheese is melted and you can remove the taco from the pan.
Remove from pan, add extras:
You are basically done with the cheese tacos. Now all you have left to do is assembly. Open up each taco and add the ingredients you want. A slice of avocado, a slice of apple, a piece of chicken, a little bit of lettuce. Don't over do it or you won't be able to hold the taco and get it in your mouth. :-)