The One Recipe: Katie Workman's Taco Night

Nobody complains about dinner when it's taco night, right? Just in time for back-to-school, we asked Katie Workman, author of the Mom 100 Cookbook, to share the one essential recipe from her book, and to make it with us at Food Network Kitchen.

In the Kitchen With: Katie Workman

Cookbooks arrive at Food Network Kitchen with delicious abundance, piling up on desks and crowding library shelves. But because of the wealth of recipes, finding the nuggets of gold — that one amazing curry, say, or a particularly clever method for crimping pie crust — can be daunting even to the experts at FNK. Where to start? The answer, we decided, is with the authors themselves. After all, who knows the material better than its creator? In this new series, we invite a noted cookbook writer to choose the one essential recipe from her or his book, and to make it with us at Food Network Kitchen. Just in time for back-to-school, we asked Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket, to share her favorite dish. After slipping on an apron — "So long as I have one on, I'm all right with the world," she says — she gamely set to work. Here's how she does it.

Start with Spice

"The spice mix takes 3 minutes to put together," says Katie of the combination of chili powder, cumin, oregano and paprika. "It's totally make-ahead. You can double it for a crowd. Dial down the spice if you want — or add more cayenne." Tacos are great to prepare with kids, who can mix the seasonings and stir the meat. "Around 6 they can really start helping," she says.

Ready for Tacos, Anytime

"I keep empty spice jars and use them to store extra taco mix," says Katie. The zesty mix of seasonings is awesome with more than just ground meat. "I like to use it as a rub on bone-in chicken breast or flank steak," she says. 

Make 'Em Meaty

"I try to use dark meat turkey," says Katie "It gives you a meaty feel, for those beef lovers." After the turkey browns, the spices go in. "The heat of the pan toasts them and releases their flavors and aromas," she says, stirring. "This is the point when my kids will come ask, 'Oh, is dinner ready?'" A dash of cornstarch in the mix is her secret weapon: "It keeps the spices from caking and thickens the sauce. It makes a big difference."

Toppings Bar

You can wash and chop the toppings while the filling cooks, though Katie likes to get a jump-start on dinner when she has free time. "I'm big on prepping on the weekend," she says. "I finely chop 4 or 5 onions. I peel and cut up carrots. I juice some lemons. So when I get home during the week, I can walk into the kitchen and crank." 

Winning Dinner

"My kids love a lot of my food, but the tacos are my oldest son's favorite," says Katie. "When I ask what he wants for dinner I have to say, 'What — besides tacos — would you like me to make?'" I love it because it's so interactive: You're passing stuff across the table, you're choosing your own toppings. It's such a happy meal." And because the recipe calls for 2 pounds of meat, you're almost guaranteed leftovers for busy school nights. "The next day I'll put them on a baked potato or in a salad with shredded tortillas. I wish repurposing leftovers was an Olympic sport, because I would win. It's so satisfying!" 

Make Them at Home

Kick off the new school year with Katie's taco night at your house.


Photo by Todd Coleman/The Mom 100 Cookbook

Get the Recipe: Taco Night