Thursday, May 5, 2016
Around these parts, Potato Tacos are not just a once in while meal agenda, but more so a midweek way of life. What was once a thrown together dinner idea inspired by a long ago vacation is now just straight up Potato Taco Night. Also known as Wednesday. This meal is my favorite go-to for a lot of reasons. It’s pretty healthy (vegan if you omit the sour cream/ yogurt), it’s comprised of pantry staples, it feels decadent and satisfying and it tastes oh so good with that very necessary Hump Day Beer. And most of all it is heavily hands off, you set the potatoes in the oven and the black beans to simmer and you then don’t have to do anything until just before you sit down. When you work all day and have a tiny lunatic climbing the walls that hour of freedom from 5-6 is very necessary. Even if you don’t.
My affinity for Mexican-ish main dishes is no secret by now. Whether I’m waxing philosophical about burritos, slow cooking a pork butt to feed a party-sized crowd or simply cooking my family the easiest of easy weeknight dinners, I’m heavily into tacos, burritos and all things folded into tortillas and decorated with avocado and hot sauce. Strangely enough though, I have never been super into breakfast burritos, or Mexican-style breakfasts in general. I’m not quite sure what the hesitation was, but I think it was mostly fueled by the fact that there are many bad breakfast burritos out there- super soggy with gross, unsuitable vegetables and a bunch of salsa slogging it all down; and also, the aversion may stem from the years I spent slinging breakfast, where one of our signature menu items was a Mexican Chicken Omelette. A monstrosity of eggs, grilled chicken, Jack cheese and salsa that had both pungent aromas and a runny appearance- serving this dish with a Category 7 Hangover (as I was accustomed to in those days) was not that easy, guys.
But last October, Paul and I traveled up to the Catskills for a dear friend (and former roommate and generally like-minded aka food obsessed lady friend)’s wedding. Now Stevie digs food in the way that I do. In an all consuming and passionate way- so much so that she recently bravely took the leap to leave a comfortable career and go to culinary school. We both agree that when any event pops up on the calendar the first and most important question is: What am I gonna make? She’s the real deal this one. So when her fiance and she put together a list of local eateries, we knew that they would be legit. We ate both days at the Phoenicia Diner-- and the breakfasts were delightful. On the second day, moderately hungover and ready for a rib sticking breakfast, I opted for the breakfast burrito. Even though I wasn’t usually drawn to them, something about this place told me I wouldn’t regret the decision. What was served up did not inspire regret, but rather a new obsession: a perfectly crisped grilled tortilla housed a combination of cheesy eggs, crispy chorizo and salty black beans. On the side a bracing and spicy jalapeno salsa for dipping. Do I even have to say that I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I might have a problem with burrito fantasies. These simple but delicious breakfast tacos are the closest I can get to a simple Sunday morning reproduction. Yes, you have to have the foresight to roast potatoes in the morning, but man, they’re worth it. By now you should trust that there are a couple things I don’t fuck around with: Sunday morning breakfast and any kind of Mexican food. You can trust the process.
For the crispy potatoes:
3-4 russet potatoes
Salt and pepper
3-4 slices of chorizo, or 1-2 links, depending on what format you’re dealing with
1 teaspoon butter
Optional toppings: shredded Jack or Cheddar, salsa, sour cream or Greek yogurt
Non-optional toppings: hot sauce, you gotsta
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and dice potatoes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toss potatoes with a hearty drizzle of oil. Season with salt and pepper and set in the oven to roast 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until very crispy. Open the oven once to rotate the pan and toss the potatoes. These potatoes are the foundation for my Potato Tacos, they taste as decadent as eating a bunch of French fries, while being much healthier. The key is high heat, plenty of oil and only opening the oven a minimum amount of times. I also give them a light spritz with coconut oil, if you have it, do so as well. They are a time commitment for breakfast but less steps (and less dirty dishes) than good homefries.
Let the potatoes cook a good while, when you have about 20 minutes left, crisp the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to drain off a bit of the grease. Reduce heat to medium-low and wipe the skillet out with a paper towel. Add a teaspoon of butter and let it melt, if the pan appears too hot, take it off heat and let it cool down a little, you don’t want to scorch scrambled eggs. In a small bowl whisk eggs with a fork, add to the skillet and cook, low and slow, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pull the eggs off heat when they are almost done, but still a little wet. Top with a bit of cheese to melt, if using. Warm tortillas over an open flame or in the oven. To assemble: scoop eggs into charred tortillas, top with crispy potatoes and chorizo, garnish with avocado, hot sauce and whatever else your heart desires. Scarf one and then repeat.