Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Potato Challenge: Chorizo Potato Tacos

I have to admit that, when I was told last Monday that the theme for this week's Monday night dinner was going to be "tacos", I was a little concerned.  I had never heard of a taco filled with potato.  I mean, a starch inside of a starch - there was no way.

Imagine my surprise when I found several recipes for Chorizo Potato Tacos on the all-knowing Internet.  That's what I would be bringing.

Chorizo can be found chorizo at your local Mexican grocery store. I selected a spicy beef chorizo from the overwhelming variety of chorizo they had there, because one of the members in Monday night's group prefers to avoid pork, if possible.  I'm sure this particular recipe will be quite different with another variety of chorizo.

Some of the recipes out there suggest that the warm taco filling consists of just chorizo and potatoes. Onion and cilantro were added as cold toppings at the time of serving.  I tried that recipe during the Saturday dry run, but found it to be quite uninspiring.

Other recipe variations suggested the addition of yellow squash, onion, chilies, garlic and corn. I decided that "all of the above" was what I was going for.

First, I fried up the chorizo, breaking it up as it was cooking.  The chorizo may release quite a bit of fat during cooking while the meaty parts become dryer and crunchier in consistency.  When the meat was done, I drained the fat into a container to use for the potatoes later.

Then I sauteed the onions, garlic, yellow squash and corn in a clean pan and stored the mixture in a separate container.

For the trial on Sunday night I cut only 1 the potato into 1/2 inch pieces and fried them up in a pan until they were crispy.  At that point I added a little bit of the chorizo grease as well as some of the chorizo and the vegetable mix.  See below for a picture of the result.

Yup, this stuff was ready for prime time!  

For this to work for Monday night dinner (after work), I needed to prepare part of the dish on Sunday night. I decided that everything could be prepared in advance except the fried potatoes since they would turn to mush in the fridge overnight.

That plan actually worked out very well: When I got home after work I peeled and cut the potatoes. By the way, I used my Vidalia Chop Wizard to cut the potatoes (and no, I am not getting any kick-back from anyone for saying this.)  The one I have is a little older, and it's useless for onions or anything that has the ability to provide resistance.  However, it does a great job turning 1/2 inch potato slices into tiny cubes. It definitely sped up the production of the little potato cubes. 

The potatoes were fried in a pan until they were nice and crispy, I added some of the chorizo grease to the pan with the potatoes, then added the chorizo that had been fried up the day before.  It took a little while to get the chorizo heated back up. Having the chorizo brown a little more also added to its flavor and crunch.  Eventually I added the rest of the vegetables and heated everything through.  Finally I decided that this dish would be enhanced by the addition of a few roasted Hatch chiles that I still had in the freezer from a Boutiful Baskets purchase last year. 

This dish would be best served immediately, but it was still quite good after transporting it to dinner using a crock pot to keep everything warm. 

8 Russset Potatoes - peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 lb Mexican chorizo, casings removed (spicy)
1 coarsely chopped red onion
5 small summer squashes - peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 TBsp chopped garlic
2 roasted Harch chiles - chopped into small pieces
About 2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil, if necessary

Fry the chorizo in a pan, breaking it up while it is cooking until some of it is brown and crunchy.  Drain the fat that was released and collect it for later. 

Saute onions and garlic until somewhat fragrant in olive oil.  Then add summer squash and Hatch chilies and sautee until just warm, but not too soft. 

Fry the potatoes in a pan until they are browned and crunchy. Lightly salt potatoes during frying to enhance the flavor.  Add some of the chorizo grease to the pan until the potatoes are lightly coated.  Add chorizo to the pan and continue frying until some of the chorizo has become quite brown.  Finally add the vegetable mix to the pan, gently turning the mixture until heated throughout. 

Serve immediately with tacos that were warmed in a pan.  Possible toppings include fresh cilantro, salsa and sour cream. 

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