Crumbles and Noodles

Crumbles & Noodles: White Trash Tacos

white trash tacos

How can you make white trash tacos? Add Steak-Umm! Join me on this culinary journey…

I’ll be straight up about this post right away. It’s kind of a stunt post. These Crumbles and Noodles posts look back at the stuff my mom made for her kids. If I followed that, I would just post a big box of Old El Paso taco kit. But since this website is a largely pointless endeavor, here’s my recipe for some truly White Trash Tacos!

Those taco kits were looked upon with derision from dear old Dad, who preferred his ground beef American style – barely seasoned with salt and/or pepper. For the kids, eating tacos was such a bizarre worldly novelty. We were traveling to Mexico! Experiencing a new culture through our taste buds! Sure, I admit I thought of a taco as basically being a hamburger chopped up with some crazy seasonings, wrapped in a Corn Doritos shell instead of a bun and topped with shredded lettuce and tomatoes, but still – WORLDLY!

And honestly, what’s more American than thinking tacos from a box kit were the height of foreign cuisine and culture!

Sorta growing up with tacos

But let’s get to the realities of what really makes a white trash taco. I think ‘white trash’ in cooking is when you go to a semi-reputable local restaurant where the chef adds a playful dish to the menu that intends to reflect some sense of personality or a spark of her past. This restaurant may also herald all local ingredients, serve tall boys in brown paper bags (oh the frivolity!), but always has some ordinary dish reconstructed. Imagine a re-imagined apple pie that is some diced apples in a whiskey sauce placed over some flourly chips of dough baked to a crisp and served in a mason jar. Do restaurants still use mason jars? Are all of us over that or will this pinterest board/etsy world continue to the end of days?  

The ingredients are super important – so I raided my shelves and grabbed some corn tortillas (never a thing in my house as a child!), got some fajita seasoning and diced up a bunch of lettuce, tomatoes and onions. For meat, I chose to go full throttle and used some Steak-Umms steaks. Cheese steaks are always an absolute favorite of mine when done right. Steak -Umm nights were always a big night growing up – a true source of joy.

white trash taco

My childhood’s perfect taco

When I was a kid, I largely eschewed the joys of a taco sauce on the tacos. I relied on the seasoning of the taco mix on the ground beef for that foreign flavor. I also was guilty of heavily overloading the beef in the crispy shells, raising the beef to just under the rounded top edge of each shell. That left just enough room to add a minimal amount of vegetable toppings to the meal. Today, that ratio is almost completely reversed. For homemade tacos, a sensible layer of beef is fin. I usually overload all the veggies so it’s ultimately a pile of veggies on some form of warm beef wrapped in a toasty soft shell. 

I lightly grilled the Steak Umms with an ample amount of Fajita Seasoning. Then I chopped them into a more ‘shredded’ form. I then toasted the tortillas on the stovetop, going so far as to use tongs. For decades, I would toast tortillas on the stove, I only used my fingers to flip them. Despite my best attempts at cat-like reflexes, the result was an endless array of curse words and painful taps against hot burners. A party about three years ago changed my life when my friend, a cook and well established restaurateur in Kansas City toasting her tortillas. She used tongs!!!! It was a life changing moment.

Cooking them up!

I laid out the tortillas and placed some Steak Umms on each one. They were covered liberally with the chopped vegetables and cheese. For a masterful final touch to these Steak-Umm tacos, I threw a nice line of mayonnaise on the steak. Everybody knows a cheesesteak isn’t finished until it’s dripping with the fatty layers of mayo and greasy sauces.

The white trash tacos were actually decent! The veggies did the heavy lifting, leaving the Steak Umms largely as an afterthought. Would I make these again? No, probably not. The Steak Umms didn’t really take to being seasoned very well, and seemed less of a fit than planned. As questionable as Steak-Umm meat is, I’d rather use them for their designated purpose of making a greasy chessesteak lathered in mayo and melted cheese on a toasted bun.  

white trash tacos

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