Taco Braid

One of my most popular postings has to be the Mexican Taco Ring. It is a favorite in our house for so many reasons. I’ve even created a football version of this dish with Rethinking the Taco Ring – It’s Game Time! The Taco Braid is very similar – made with pizza dough rather than Crescent Rolls, and the addition of sautéed onions and chopped tomatoes baked right into the Braid. Besides, I’ve got to admit – I really like the look of just about anything served inside braided bread. The outside all golden and delicious. Slice into that braid and everything just looks so yummy.

I knew the first time I read through the Taco Braid recipe that this was going to be another hit. My guys loved it – not a scrap left. They were so ready to scarf the taco braid down that a “pretty” presentation was out of the question. Besides, serving straight from the baking sheet cut down on dishes to wash.

Taco Braid
1 canister refrigerated pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1/2 cup water
1 cup Mexican Blend shredded cheese, divided
1 tomato, diced, plus additional for top, if desired
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups Shredded lettuce
Sour cream and taco sauce for serving, if desired

Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 3 – 5 minutes. To the skillet with onions, add the lean ground beef and cook until brown. Gently drain so has to retain the onions while removing any excess liquid or oils.

Return meat to skillet. Add the Taco Seasoning and water to the skillet and mix until well incorporated. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer the piece of parchment to your work surface. Place the pizza dough on the parchment and roll it so that it measures 10 X 15 – inches.

With a pizza cutter, make slices 1 1/2 – inches wide and 3 – inches long on both long sides of the dough. Return parchment paper to the baking pan with the sliced dough.

Place the ground beef down the center of the dough. Cover the beef with 3/4 cup of cheese, followed by the diced tomato.

Beginning at end closest to you, lift strips up and over filling, crossing in the middle. Press ends at next two strips, lift next strips and repeat, moving forward. Repeat the wrapping until the last two. Bring last two over end of braid, tuck and secure with a pinch.

Gently brush the top and side with the melted butter.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top. Clean any “spillage” that may have occurred during the filling and braiding process to prevent stuff from burning outside your braid.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Top with shredded lettuce and remaining tomatoes, if desired. (For a “cleaner” presentation, carefully transfer braid to a large serving platter before topping with lettuce). Cut with a sharp knife and serve with a large spatula. Serve with sour cream and taco sauce to pass around the table.

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Taco Braid (1)

Roll out dough, cut to size and create edge cuts using a ruler and pizza cutter, leaving the center ready for filling.

Add taco meat filling, spread to edge of slits.

Add taco meat filling, spread to edge of slits.

Top meat mixture with cheese.

Top meat mixture with cheese.

Top cheese with chopped tomatoes

Top cheese with chopped tomatoes

"Braid" dough. Starting at one end, lift to strips up and over, crossing in the middle. Press ends firmly down on next two strips and repeat.

“Braid” dough. Starting at one end, lift to strips up and over, crossing in the middle. Press ends firmly down on next two strips and repeat.

Brush with melted butter, then top with remaining cheese.

Brush with melted butter, then top with remaining cheese.

Place in oven and bake until nicely browned. Don't panic that parchment paper is also browning - that's fine.

Place in oven and bake until nicely browned. Don’t panic that parchment paper is also browning – that’s fine.

Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, then top with shredded lettuce and more diced tomatoes just before serving.

Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, then top with shredded lettuce and more diced tomatoes just before serving.

Cut, serve and enjoy.

Cut, serve and enjoy.

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Looking for a “twist” to the Taco Braid? Replace the shredded Mexican Cheese in the filling with Nacho Cheese Sauce. Blend the cheese sauce into the meat mixture just before filling your braid. It will “bind” the filling nicely, allowing for a nice, tight braid while rendering a velvety finish to your dish.

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