Our spicy beef bake packs all the great texture and flavor of taco night into an easy one-dish meal that could easily be prepped ahead of time.
We flavored the beef with onion, garlic, chili powder and oregano, blooming the seasonings in oil to bring out their complex flavors. Both the chili powder and some canned tomatoes with green chilies gave this dish multilayered heat. Cheese helped bind the beans and meat, while broken taco shells made the perfect topping.
Ro-tel tomatoes are sold at Target. If you can’t find them substitute one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, and one 4-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained, reserving 6 tablespoons of the tomato juice and 2 tablespoons chili juice.
Monterey jack cheese can be subbed for colby jack. Be sure to buy 93 percent lean ground beef or the finished casserole will be too greasy. Serve with sour cream, chopped red onion, shredded lettuce, and/or salsa.
SPICY BEEF TACO BAKE
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1-1/2 pounds 93 percent lean ground beef
- 2 (10-ounce) cans Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained, with 1/2 cup juice reserved, divided
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 6 ounces colby jack cheese, shredded (1-1/2 cups), divided
- 12 taco shells, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in chili powder, garlic and oregano; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in half of tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, vinegar and sugar. Bring to simmer and cook until mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, combine remaining tomatoes, refried beans and cilantro. Spread evenly into 13-by- 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup colby jack over top.
Spread beef mixture over cheese, then sprinkle with another 1/2 cup colby jack. Scatter taco shell pieces over top, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup colby jack.
Bake until filling is bubbling and top is spotty brown, about 10 minutes. Let casserole cool slightly, sprinkle with scallions. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 499 calories, 24 g total fat, 10 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 1,383 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 37 g protein.