How to heat taco shells and tortillas:
Hard taco shells: Bake 4 minutes at 350 degrees F, or microwave 45 seconds.
Soft 6-inch corn or flour tortillas: Heat in a dry skillet or on the grill, 30 seconds per side, or wrap in foil and bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. You can also wrap in a damp towel and microwave 1 minute.
1. Ground Beef: Saute 1 chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in oil. Add 1 tablespoon chili powder and 2 teaspoons each cumin and coriander; cook 30 seconds. Add 1 pound ground beef and cook until browned. Add 2 tablespoons broth, and salt to taste. Serve in hard taco shells and top as desired.
2. Spicy Beef: Make Ground Beef Tacos (No. 1), adding 2 teaspoons hot sauce and 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos with the broth.
3. Turkey: Make Ground Beef Tacos (No. 1), adding 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon with the spices and replacing the beef with turkey.
4. Sweet and Savory Beef: Make Ground Beef Tacos (No. 1), adding 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon with the spices. Replace the broth with 1/4 cup water, then add 3 tablespoons each tomato paste and raisins, 1 tablespoon capers, and salt to taste. Simmer until thick.
5. Queso-Chorizo: Brown 2 ounces diced dried chorizo in a skillet; remove with a slotted spoon. Melt 1/2 pound chopped monterey jack in the skillet. Serve in flour tortillas with the chorizo.
6. Carne Asada: Season 1 pound skirt steak with salt and pepper; grill and slice. Brush 1 bunch scallions with oil; grill. Serve the steak and scallions in tortillas with lime juice.
7. Fajita: Make Carne Asada Tacos (No. 6), replacing the scallions with 1 each thickly sliced onion and bell pepper. Serve in tortillas with sour cream, guacamole and salsa.
8. Beef and Bean: Make Ground Beef Tacos (No. 1), adding 1 drained can pinto beans with the broth.
9. Double Shell: Spread 2 tablespoons warm refried beans on a flour tortilla. Wrap around a hard taco shell and fill as desired.
10. Spiced Shell: Mix 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Deep-fry corn tortillas in 350 degrees F oil, using tongs to hold each in the shape of a taco shell, until crisp, 2 minutes. Drain; sprinkle with the spice mixture. Fill as desired.
11. Carnitas: Combine 2 pounds cubed pork shoulder, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 each orange and lime, 4 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup milk, water to cover and 1 teaspoon salt in a pot; cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the pork browns, 1 hour. Remove the pork; cook sliced onions in the pot. Serve the pork and onions in tortillas.
12. Pork al Pastor: Make Carnitas Tacos (No. 11), adding 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder with the milk. Omit the onions. Shred the pork and serve in tortillas with chopped grilled pineapple and scallions.
13. Chicken Mole: Prepare jarred mole sauce as the package directs. Stir in shredded cooked chicken. Serve in tortillas and top with sesame seeds.
14. Chicken Tomatillo: Purée 1 pound husked tomatillos with 1 jalapeno, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup each chopped onion, cilantro and water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Fry the sauce in 2 tablespoons oil until thick. Stir in 3 cups shredded cooked chicken. Serve in tortillas with shredded monterey jack.
15. Shrimp Tomatillo: Make the sauce for Chicken Tomatillo Tacos (No. 14); cool. Serve grilled shrimp in tortillas with the tomatillo sauce, cilantro and sour cream.
16. Chipotle Pork: Sauté 1 each chopped red onion and chipotle in adobo sauce in oil. Add 2 teaspoons each cumin and coriander; cook 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon adobo sauce and 1 pound ground pork; cook until browned. Add 2 tablespoons broth, and salt to taste. Serve in hard taco shells.
17. Cajun Catfish: Mix 1/4 cup each salsa and sour cream. Toss 1 pound catfish chunks with 2 teaspoons oil and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning; sauté. Serve in tortillas with the salsa mixture.
18. Cajun Pork: Make Cajun Catfish Tacos (No. 17), replacing the fish with boneless pork loin. Serve in tortillas with salsa.
19. Mushroom: Cook 1 minced shallot in butter. Add 1 pound mixed mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt; sauté. Toss with lemon juice, parsley and hot sauce. Serve in tortillas.
20. Duck Confit: Mix 1 cup each diced green apple and radishes, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and salt. Brown 3 duck confit legs in a skillet; shred the meat. Serve in tortillas with the apple relish.
21. Chicken and Vegetable: Sauté 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 teaspoon each minced garlic and jalapeno in oil. Add 1 1/2 cups each corn and chopped zucchini; cook until crisp-tender. Stir in 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, and cilantro, lime juice and salt to taste. Serve in tortillas.
22. Chicken-Mango: Mix 1 chopped mango, 2 tablespoons each minced red onion and scallion, 1 teaspoon each minced jalapeno and lime juice, and salt. Season 1 pound chicken cutlets with salt and cayenne; grill and slice. Serve in tortillas with the mango salsa.
23. Chicken-Pico: Make pico de gallo: Toss 2 diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup each chopped cilantro and diced red onion, 1 tablespoon each lime juice and minced jalapeno, and salt. Grill the chicken for Chicken-Mango Tacos (No. 22); serve in tortillas with the pico de gallo.
24. Crab: Make the pico de gallo for Chicken-Pico Tacos (No. 23). Stir in 1/2 pound crabmeat. Serve in tortillas with avocado.
25. Nopalitos (Cactus): Mix 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1/2 chopped jalapeno. Cook jarred nopalitos in oil. Serve in tortillas with the onion relish, sliced radishes and lime juice.
26. Sweet Potato: Toss 3 cups diced peeled sweet potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and salt, and oil to coat. Roast at 425 degrees F, 30 minutes, adding 1 drained can black beans in the last 5 minutes. Serve in tortillas with sour cream.
27. Chorizo and Potato: Brown 1/4 pound crumbled fresh chorizo and 1/2 chopped onion in a skillet. Mash with 1 pound boiled potatoes, and salt. Serve in tortillas with salsa.
28. Sushi: Trim nori sheets into circles. Sprinkle cooked rice with lime juice. Season 1/2 pound cubed tuna with cumin and chipotle chile powder; sear in oil. Serve the rice and tuna in the nori with cilantro.
29. Shredded Beef: Sauté 2 chopped jalapenos in oil. Season 1 pound skirt steak with salt and pepper; add to the pan and sear on both sides. Add 2 cups each crushed tomatoes and water; simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Shred the beef and serve in tortillas.
30. Ropa Vieja: Make Shredded Beef Tacos (No. 29), adding 1 each sliced bell pepper and onion with the jalapeno. Add green olives and a splash of olive brine before serving.
31. Bacon and Egg: Wrap cooked hash browns, crumbled cooked bacon, scrambled eggs and grated cheddar in tortillas. Serve with salsa.
32. Kale and Egg: Simmer 1 bunch torn kale leaves, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup water, and salt to taste, covered, until tender, 30 minutes. Serve in tortillas with scrambled eggs and hot sauce.
33. Egg and Chorizo: Brown 1/4 pound crumbled fresh chorizo in a skillet. Add 6 beaten eggs and cook until just set. Serve in tortillas with cilantro.
34. Spicy Breakfast: Make Egg and Chorizo Tacos (No. 33), adding 1 chopped chipotle in adobo sauce with the eggs. Serve with avocado.
35. Asian Chicken: Toss 2 cups coleslaw mix with 1 sliced jalapeno, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and salt. Fill tortillas with shredded cooked chicken and the slaw.
36. Vietnamese Pork: Sauté 1 teaspoon each grated ginger and garlic in oil. Add 1 pound ground pork and cook until browned. Stir in 1 tablespoon each lime juice and fish sauce and some Sriracha. Serve in tortillas with basil, mint and cilantro.
37. Korean BBQ: Purée 1/3 cup kimchi with 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and oil. Toss with 1 pound thinly sliced flank steak; marinate 30 minutes. Cook in a skillet. Serve in tortillas with kimchi and scallions.
38. Chinese Pork: Sear 2 pounds pork shoulder in oil in a pot. Add 3 cups water, 1/4 cup each soy sauce, sliced ginger and garlic, 1 star anise pod, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover; simmer 3 hours. Shred the pork. Serve in tortillas with Asian chile sauce.
39. Fish: Whisk 1 cup each beer and flour with 1 teaspoon salt. Dip 1 pound white fish chunks in the batter; deep-fry in 375 degrees F oil. Serve in tortillas with salsa and lime juice.
40. Fish with Slaw: Combine 3 cups shredded red cabbage, 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons each lime juice and chopped scallion, and salt. Make Fish Tacos (No. 39) and top with the slaw.
41. Shrimp Diablo: Sauté 3 sliced garlic cloves in oil. Add 1 pound shrimp; cook until just pink. Add 1 tablespoon each tomato paste and chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and 1/4 cup water; simmer until thick. Serve in tortillas with cilantro.
42. Shrimp and Cucumber: Mix 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup grated cucumber, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, and salt to taste. Toss 1 pound shrimp with 1 tablespoon achiote paste or powder; grill. Serve in tortillas with the cucumber sauce.
43. Tropical Chicken: Toss 1/2 shredded jicama and 3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper with a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar, the juice of 1 lime, and some chopped scallion and cilantro. Heat 1/2 cup each barbecue sauce and guava paste with 1/4 cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons rum. Brush on 4 chicken cutlets; grill and slice. Serve in tortillas with the jicama slaw.
44. Spaghetti: Warm 2 cups cooked spaghetti with 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon hot sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Serve in hard taco shells with shredded lettuce and cheese.
45. Chicken Ranchero: Sauté 1/2 cup each chopped onion and bell pepper, 1 chopped serrano chile and 1/2 teaspoon each cumin and chopped garlic in oil. Add a 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes; simmer until thick. Stir in 3 cups shredded cooked chicken. Serve in tortillas with cilantro.
46. Chicken in Salsa Roja: Char 1/4 onion, 4 garlic cloves and 3 plum tomatoes in a dry skillet. Stir in 3 tablespoons chili powder, then add 2 cups chicken broth and boil 10 minutes. Purée, then simmer until thick. Stir in 3 cups shredded cooked chicken. Serve in tortillas.
47. Chicken Taco Wraps: Make the filling for Chicken in Salsa Roja Tacos (No. 46); cool. Spread flour tortillas with mayonnaise; add the filling and some chopped pickled jalapenos and carrots. Roll up.
48. Poblano: Broil 2 poblano chiles and 1 sliced onion, turning, until charred. Cover the poblanos; cool, peel and slice. Toss with 1 tablespoon each sour cream and lime juice, and salt to taste. Serve in tortillas with cotija or feta cheese.
49. Blackened Salmon: Mix 2 teaspoons each brown sugar and ancho chile powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne; rub on 3/4 pound salmon. Cook in an oiled skillet. Chop and serve in tortillas with chopped mango, avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
50. Lobster: Purée 1/2 avocado with 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 2 teaspoons lime juice, and salt. Toss with chopped cooked lobster; serve in tortillas with corn, cilantro and sliced serrano chiles.
Photographs by David Malosh