Originally created 09/18/02

Taco dish cuts fat, tastes great



Two weeks back I shared a child-friendly pizza casserole, and there's one other entree that most children I know enjoy: tacos. My daughter C.C. would eat them practically every night!

My mother's recipe for Taco Pie is a quick, child-friendly entree that gives them all the flavors of their favorite tacos in one great meat pie. She passed the recipe along to me a few years back, and I've developed a version with a fraction of the fat in the original.

The recipe begins with a pound of extra-lean ground turkey, to which I add a package of taco seasoning and some water. Once the seasonings are thoroughly incorporated, the mixture is pressed into a glass pie plate, making a meat crust and leaving a hollow for a special filling.

Mom's recipe called for ground beef, but I found that the pie is improved when you use the leanest ground meat you can buy. Pies made with regular ground beef, and even some types of ground turkey, tend to become greasy around the outside, with the meat shrunken in the center.

There are several varieties of very lean ground beef on the market, but I turned to the extra-lean ground turkey for further fat reduction without sacrificing the flavors of the final pie. The extra-lean turkey costs a bit more than the lean variety, but comes in at 1.5 grams of fat per serving as opposed to 8 grams for the lean.

You might expect filling ingredients like sour cream and black olives here. But this filling gets an added taco twist from crushed tortilla chips and extra flavor from prepared salsa. The recipe tested well using reduced-fat sour cream and baked tortilla chips and, as always, I only recommend fat reductions that don't diminish the quality of the final dish.

The pie gets a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese before it's baked. I tested the recipe using the 2 percent reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese from Kraft, and ended up with poor results. Since the reduced-fat product was unacceptable, I've decreased the amount of shredded cheese from one cup to 1/2 cup, providing enough cheese to give you a gooey cheese topping.

Serve wedges of the pie with some Mexican rice and a big tossed salad for a meal your children will love.

MOM'S TACO PIE

1 pound extra lean ground turkey

2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix

2 tablespoons cold water

8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons salsa

2 ounces chopped black olives (1/2 a 4.25-ounce can)

3/4 cup coarsely crushed baked tortilla chips

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine turkey, seasonings and water and press in the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Combine sour cream, salsa, black olives and tortilla chips in a medium bowl and spread over the turkey crust. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

COMING SEPT. 25:

See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

  251 calories
   22.4 grams protein
   15.2 grams carbohydrates
   1.4 grams fiber
   11 grams fat
   4.8 grams saturated fat
   73 milligrams cholesterol
   462 milligrams sodium
 Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association.