Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tacos Dorados de Papa
When my cousin, Betty, got married, she was very young. As a new and young bride, she worried that she would not be able to live up to her new husband’s expectations. See, when you marry a Mexican man, more often than not, he has been spoiled all of his life by his mother’s cooking. When you marry a man who has grown up with enchiladas, mole, and tamales, as meals that his mother just “threw together,” you have very big shoes to fill. The pressure was on for my cousin. To prevent him from missing his mom’s cooking back home, she needed to come up with dinner ideas that were easy enough for her to make and would satisfy both their appetites. The very first meal that she made for her husband was “Tacos Dorados de Papa” (in English please: Deep-fried Potato Tacos). It was the perfect meal, it called for a few ingredients and were delicious and easy. She served the tacos with salsa, sour cream, and shredded cabbage. He loved them! She was so delighted with the success of the very first meal she prepared for her husband that the very next day she made him some more tacos! Her husband, not wanting to hurt his new bride‘s feelings, didn’t know how to bring up that he was starting to grow tired of eating tacos every day for the last few weeks, not to mention that he was worried that this diet might lead to weight gain. Eventually, he had to break it to her that, although she had now become an expert taco maker, he could not possibly eat any more tacos.
Tacos Dorados de Papa are a very popular street food in the town that I grew up in, La Blanca, Zacatecas. A lady, or sometimes man, would set up outside their house with a “cazo” (cauldron) of hot oil, you’d tell her how many “orders” you’d like and in a few minutes she’d hand you a plate of fresh and crispy corn tortillas filled with a savory mashed potato filling.
These are quite easy to make, hence why my cousin made them her first dish as a blushing new bride. You can even prepare the ingredients ahead of time to save you some time. You’ll also want to make sure that the oil is hot enough, but not too hot, to prevent them from absorbing too much oil and getting soggy. If you’re not using the best quality tortillas, it’s really hard to keep them from falling apart, or the filling from coming out, so I use two toothpicks to pin the sides together. Just make sure you remove the toothpicks before serving. Although, my cousin is still married to her husband, I suggest that you not try to serve these to your loved ones every day.
Tacos Dorados de Papa
Oil for frying
6 potatoes (russet or golden)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup of cheese (cotija, crumbled queso fresco, cheddar, monterey jack)
Sour cream or Crema Mexicana
Boil the potatoes in water, add a tbsp of salt, cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until soft enough to put a fork through them. Drain water and set aside to cool. Remove the skins and mash potatoes until broken up. Add the pepper, cumin, garlic powder, salt (about a teaspoon, adjust to taste), and cheese. Mix well until the mixture is smooth.
Heat about a cup of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
Warm the tortillas on a griddle just enough to soften them. You don't want them to be on the griddle too long that they start to harden. Once all the the tortillas are warmed, add a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture to the middle and spread slightly so that you don't have just one big lump in the middle. Fold the tortilla in half and "thread" a toothpick on one half to create a closed seam, then do the same to the other half (pictured above).
Once you are done putting together the tacos, gently place in the heated oil. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes or until golden and crispy (it's ok if a bit of the filling comes out). Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Remove the toothpicks. Open them up slightly, and stuff with your favorite toppings. Crunch away!