Cheesy Baked Tacos
Can I add something to the list of first world problems? It’s this: Tacos with unmelted cheese.
It’s far from the end of the world and I’ve made many a taco with hot fillings and cold cheese. The results are usually fine, but if you happen to be a person that prizes the gooey nature of cheese, the cold cheese addition can be a bit of a disappointment.
Popping your tacos in the oven for a few minutes completely solves this cheese issue and the results are a nice taco with hot filling and string-forming melted cheese.
BUT, baking tacos does create a few problems. Problems like how to fit a bunch of tacos on a baking sheet without having them all fall apart and how to prevent a soggy shell.
We will solve these problems. You can have your gooey cheesy baked taco and eat it too!
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, start bean mash by adding onions, garlic, and Serrano pepper to pot. Cook for a few minutes until veggies soften. Then add beans and spices. Cook together for a few minutes. Then add about 1/4 cup water and mash bean mixture until somewhat smooth. Some texture is good though. Keep bean mash warm until needed over low heat.
3) Make pico de gallo by chopping ingredients and stirring together. Strain pico de gallo in a small mesh strainer to pull off as much liquid as possible.
4) Stack taco shells in a baking dish lined with crumbled foil (to keep the tacos in place). Spoon a good amount of bean mash into each taco shell. Top with a hefty amount of cheese. Bake tacos for 10 minutes until cheese is nicely melted.
5) Meanwhile, stir together sour cream sauce ingredients and chop lettuce.
When tacos come out, top tacos immediately with pico de gallo, lettuce, and sour cream sauce. Serve while warm!
Bean and Cheese Baked Tacos
The Bean Mash
If you want to bake your tacos (and you should want to bake your tacos), spend some time thinking about the filling. You want to use a filling that’s on the dryer side. Super-greasy ground beef, for example, will never work. As it bakes into the taco, it will soak through the shell and you’ll be left with a mess.
I like making my own bean mash to solve the problem. It has lots of flavor, but is also dry enough to bake without causing your taco shells to fall apart.
You could use canned refried beans in a pinch, but this is just so easy… give it a shot.
Just melt a little butter in a medium pot and then add the chopped onion, garlic, and pepper. Cook that down for a minute or two, then add the drained and rinsed beans. Add spices and salt and pepper.
Then just use a big fork or potato masher to mash this stuff up. You’ll probably want to add some water to it (maybe 1/4 cup), but remember that you want the filling to be on the dryer side.
This was my finished mash!
Keep that warm over low heat while you make the rest of the taco stuff.
Let’s Talk Pico
It’s summer and that means fresh tomatoes! Please take advantage of them to make this quick pico de gallo. Sure, there’s some chopping involved, but it really makes the finished tacos something special.
PRO TACO TIP ALERT: If I were eating this pico de gallo with chips, I would just stir it together and call it a day.
But, because I’m using this on tacos, again, I want to limit the moisture in it so I recommend straining it to pull away a lot of the water. Just stir it together and let the mix sit in a strainer for 10 minutes or so. You’ll be amazing at how much water drains off.
Now when you add this to your tacos, it won’t end up being a sloppy mess but the flavors will still be bright and fresh.
Okay. Ready to bake. Working with one taco shell at a time, add a good schmear of bean mash to each shell.
Then stuff the tacos full of grated cheese. Remember that as the cheese melts it’ll shrink a lot os don’t worry about filling them up!
PRO TIP TWO: It’s incredibly annoying trying to stack taco shells in a baking dish. Add some crumpled foil to the bottom of your baking dish and then press the shells into the foil. It’ll give them just enough support to keep them in place as they bake!
The tacos will need to bake for about 10 minutes. You know they are done with the cheese is dripping off the sides of the tacos!
As soon as the tacos come out, top them with with some chopped lettuce, the strained pico de gallo and sour cream sauce (sour cream, lime, hot sauce).
Remember the tips: Start with a dry filling. Strain your salsa before using it. Use foil to keep tacos in place!
Never eat an unmelted cheesy taco again!