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Cheeseburger Tacos

Makes 12 tacos

© by 2015 Evan Sung

Recipe by Chef Alex Stupak.

For the Filling

  • Lard or Vegetable Oil 1 tsp
  • Ground Beef 1 lb
  • Kosher Salt as needed
  • Chihuahua Cheese 1 lb, grated1.


Set a 12-inch non-stick sauté pan over medium heat and add the lard. Once the fat is shimmering, add the ground beef and cook, until crumbly and browned, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Add the grated cheese and stir until completely melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Salsa Roja

Makes about 2 cups

Salsa roja and salsa verde are the ebony and ivory of the salsa universe: Whereas verde supplies brightness and clean, sharp heat, roja offers gentle spice and dried-herb warmth. It makes sense that the two keep such close company—you’ll encounter versions of both at nearly every taqueria in Mexico.

For my salsa roja, I looked to guajillo chile, one of the workhorses of the Mexican pantry. Cheap and ubiquitous, these dried peppers impart the mild heat, distinctive berry-like aroma, and deep, rusty hue that define a good roja.

  • Plum Tomatoes 2
  • Guajillo Chiles 10
  • Chipotle Morita Chile 1
  • Dried Mexican Oregano ½ tsp
  • Cumin Seeds 1/8 tsp
  • Garlic 5 cloves, skins on
  • Kosher Salt 1½ tsp
  • Sugar 1 Tbs
  • Cider Vinegar 1 Tbs1.

1. Preheat the broiler. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet under the broiler until blackened in spots, about 7 minutes. Turn them over and continue to blacken, about another 7 minutes. Remove from the broiler and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and discard the skins.

2. Remove the stems from the guajillo and chipotle chiles and tear them open. Shake out and discard the seeds. Remove and discard the veins.

3. Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cumin seeds and toast briefly, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder.

4. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Toast the guajillo and chipotle chiles, turning them from time to time until you see the first wisp of smoke, about 45 seconds.

5. Remove pan from heat, and transfer the chiles to a bowl. Cover them with hot tap water and place a heavy plate over the chiles to keep them submerged. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

6. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and roast, turning them from time to time until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic from the skillet, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves and discard the skins.

7. Drain the soaked chiles and discard the liquid. Place them in a blender along with the ground spices and roasted garlic, the salt, sugar, cider vinegar, and ¼ cup water. Purée on high speed until completely smooth, working in batches if necessary. Set up a medium-mesh sieve over a bowl and pass the puree through the strainer. Transfer to a container or refrigerate until ready to use. The salsa will keep for up to 3 days.

To Assemble the Tacos

  • Mayonnaise ¾ cup
  • Plum Tomato 1, cut into 12 slices
  • Avocado 1, cut into 12 slices lengthwise
  • White Onion 1 medium, minced
  • Cilantro Leaves from about 15 sprigs, roughly chopped
  • Limes 2, each cut into 6 wdges
  • Salsa Roja
  • Corn Tortillas
  1. Lay out the warm tortillas on serving plates. Place a tablespoon of mayonnaise on each tortilla and spread using the back of a spoon. Evenly distribute the cheeseburger filling among the tortillas and top with the avocado and tomato slices, minced onion, chopped cilantro, and a drizzle of Salsa Roja. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos and serve the rest on the side.


Excerpted from Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman.
Copyright © 2015 by Empellón Holdings LLC and Jordana Rothman. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Evan Sung.
Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random house LLC. All rights reserved.