Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)

I know that recently Cinco de Mayo excites the gringos, but I could go for what everyone gets excited about that day, everyday. See, I may be like you and could seriously eat tacos, Tex Mex, or anything in between those (enchiladas, burritos, taquitos) on a regular basis. I’m not going to be shy about it. But in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to whip up some really easy, and excellent tacos. Tacos I knew my wife and kids have never had, and ones I have been wanting to make for years. Welcome tacos de papa, or Mexican Potato Tacos.

Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe

These tacos could probably compete with one of my all time favorites, tacos al pastor, and as you can see how much I love Mexican as well as Tex Mex food, well these come straight to top ten, and that’s no joke.

These are just way too easy to make and the result, however basic they may be, are so super satisfying that they have you thinking about leftovers for breakfast, or a gentle reheat in the oven for next day’s lunch.

Let’s get started.

  • 3 whole russet potatoes, cleaned, skins peeled and removed
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 package sturdy corn tortillas
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • crumbled queso fresco, optional
  • 2 whole serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, thinly sliced, optional
  • salsa verde, optional
  • optional sides (Mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole)

The focus here is really on the tacos. The fixings are up to you. I loaded my plate up Tex Mex style with all of the fixings because, hey that’s how I like to roll on my Mexican platter. The only thing it was missing was a great chile toreado!

Start by quartering your cleaned potatoes. You can go smaller if you want. I had some time on my hand so quartered worked fine by me. Add these to a pot of cold water, along with the garlic, one roughly chopped serrano chile, and add the teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain, return them back to the pot on medium heat an and cook to remove any excess water.

Once the water is evaporated, you have a couple of options. My first option is to always use a potato ricer for my potatoes. If you don’t have one, use your favorite masher, heck even a couple of forks. You want the potatoes smooth, but if you like some texture, then heck by all means get some texture into those suckers. If you want to remove the garlic and chilies, then go for it. Me? I mash them into the potatoes. Once mashed, add some salt, cumin, pepper, butter, and milk. Give a good stir, taste, and adjust any salt or cumin if needed. Set aside to cool.

How to make Mexican Potato Tacos
How to make Mexican Potato Tacos

When you are ready to get these things going, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and let it come to temperature for a couple of minutes.

Lightly heat up your corn tortillas in the microwave, or in a separate pan. The goal is to make them flexible for folding. Corn tortillas out of the bag are no bueno.

Once the oil is heated, and you have some workable corn tortillas, take a nice spoonful of the potato mixture and slather it into the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, using the potato as the glue to pinch around the edges, and gently lay into the skillet. Repeat with a couple of more tacos. I think I fit about 3 tacos per cook.

Cook the tacos for a few minutes, then gently flip over to crisp the other side. Question? Can I spray these with cooking spray and place into a 375 degree oven, turning once and going that route? Yes, but I think the texture is slightly different. If you want to go that route, go for it. You can probably fit more on a baking sheet!

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe

Once the tacos are cooked, remove and place on a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain. Now you have choices. You can carefully open these up and stuff them with things such as cheese, salsa, beans, or whatever you like, or you can roll like I did.

Add the Mexican potato tacos to a serving plate, lining them up nicely, and ladle on some warm salsa verde, shower with cheese, and lay around your fixings. I like mine spicy so I showered mine with more chilies.

Sure, I made the kids a batch of chili lime slow cooked chicken tacos as well (only thinking what I could use for leftovers the following days), but these Mexican potato tacos were it! I laid them on the table, not discussing much about them only that they were potato tacos (you should have seen their looks), and those were the only tacos I had on my plate.

I think that curiosity drove my wife, daughter, and one of my boys interest, and as soon as they took a bite they were totally sold!

Guess who had leftovers the following morning? Well, me of course (take one, lightly crisp it up in the oven while you make an over easy egg and place that on top (thank me later)), as well as my wife who I think took down another two for lunch.

Easy. Super delicious. Something that should be on every Mexican menu but I have yet to see nor order. Just saying. If you are looking for an awesome taco idea, give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

One of my wife’s favorite dishes is, well at least that I make, probably my garlic noodles that are infused sesame oil. This dish is also one that is one of my go to dishes when I go to a get together. Not only are those super easy to make, but everyone tends to love them. Let’s just say the bowl is always empty. I typically only make that dish when the mint in my backyard is in abundance, so typically late spring through early fall.

This dish however kind of stems from this recipe, but I wanted something a bit more hearty, and something that I knew everyone in my family would love, but with a couple of different twists. This is what I am coining as my loaded garlic noodle pasta salad.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

This recipe packs in the flavor, texture, and is a great main course.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean fermented bean paste
  • generous pinch of kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 bundle bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water until slightly tender
  • 1 bag of bun bo hue noodles, or a thick pasta like a bucatini, cooked before al dente
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked and chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 whole carrots, shredded
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup of frozen broccoli florets, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 cup of chow mein noodles
  • Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • An appetite

Start by mixing all of your sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, and set it to the side.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the half of the oil, and bring to heat. Give the skillet a swirl, then add in the chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, the remove from the skillet and let them cool. Once cool, chop them up. If you see a little pink, don’t worry as we will finish in the next step.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

Once your noodles are cooked al dente, make sure both of them are drained and ready to go. This is almost like a stir fry so everything is going to go a bit quickly.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet (make sure it is large enough to hold everything) on medium heat. Toss in the garlic, giving a good stir, and and cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add in the chopped chicken, and half of the sauce. Swirl around and cook for about 3 minutes or so. Next toss in the thick noodles, give a good toss, and make sure the garlic and sauce coat the chicken. Cook for an additional few minutes.  Next add in the broccoli, and give that a good toss. Add the beaten eggs, and stir. This almost creates a creamy sauce that everyone loved.

To a large serving bowl, add the carrots, bamboo shoots, peanuts, sesame seeds, bean thread noodles, and spinach. Give that a good toss.

Add the remaining sauce to the skillet, and using tongs or your tossing skills, make sure everything is nicely incorporated. Cook for another minute.

Add the noodle mixture to the mixed up serving bowl, and use those tongs to incorporate everything together. This can take a minute or two.

Now you are ready to serve. I keep the chow mein noodles and sliced chilies on the side for those that want additional texture, and heat.

The end result is well, how do I put it? Let’s just say no one spoke for about 3 minutes as their faces were looking down and slurping noodles. Then everyone came up for air and began questioning everything in the salad, and stating how awesome it was. This serves a small army, probably 12 people, and is great for leftovers, warm, or cold. What’s not to love about that, right? Hope you enjoy!

Nam Prik Kapi

Many of you may or may not have heard of Nam Prik Kapi. I was introduced to this funky Thai spicy shrimp paste dip years ago so I thought I would share it with you. Some of these ingredients may be foreign to you, especially the Thai shrimp paste (and trust me this stuff is funky but awesome).

Nam Prik Kapi Recipe
Nam Prik Kapi Recipe

The ingredients are minimal, but the flavor impact is something out of this world. A pestle and mortar works best for this, and I have not tried using a food processor, but feel free if you decide to make this recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 Thai bird chili peppers, stems removed
  • 1 head of garlic, skin removed
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar if you do not have any)
  • 3 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • 2 whole shallots, skins removed, lightly chopped

As with many Thai dishes, you need to balance out the sour, spice, and bitterness. This one uses 20 Thai chilies, which if you can imagine is going to make it pretty spicy, but that’s how I like it. The goal here is to come up with a light and loose paste, nothing majorly thick.

Start by pounding your garlic, chilies, and shallots in a mortar and pestle. Your goal is to make a paste. This is the labor intensive part, as it takes about 10-15 minutes and will use some arm strength. Once you have a paste, add the shrimp paste and palm sugar, and continue pounding. I find it best to use a spoon along with the pestle to lift from the bottom and keep pounding.

Nam Prik Paki Recipe
Nam Prik Paki Recipe

The final step is to add the juice of the limes. Add enough lime juice to ensure a loose paste. Add more lime juice if you have to.

Now taste and adjust. It will be spicy. It will be tangy. It will be a bit funky.

Serve this alongside fried fish, omelettes, or lightly steamed vegetables. This stores nicely as well, and a little goes a long way. If you are looking for something new to try, give this one a shot. It’s probably one of Thai’s more famous dipping sauces. Hope you enjoy!

 

Caldo Verde

Caldo verde essentially translates to green broth, or in my case one delicious Portuguese soup. I have kind of made it a mission to make soup once a week, however I should probably make it a few times a week, but there are really only three of us soup eaters in the family at this point in time. Typically when I make soup, it tends to feed an army and hence why I probably only make it once a week. Caldo verde is loaded with awesomeness. It is essentially a soup made with greens, chicken stock, and typically some smoked sausage. I actually jazz mine up a bit adding a bit of bacon, and a handful of beans, but that kind of breaks some of that traditional soup, so those are optional if you are wanting to make it.

Caldo Verde Soup Recipe
Caldo Verde Soup Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 2 russet potatoes, peel and cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 7 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 ring of smoked sausage (I used kielbasa) sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • handful of red beans, optional
  • salt to taste
  • a good loaf of crusty bread

Start by getting a large pot, or dutch oven heating on medium heat.

Add in the olive oil, garlic, shallots, and onion. Cook for about 7 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary, just to sweat the onions. Next add in the russet potatoes and chicken stock, and cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Ingredients for making Caldo Verde
Ingredients for making Caldo Verde

Once the potatoes are tender, ladle this mixture into your blender. Please note that whenever you are adding hot stuff into a blender, do not fill it all of the way up, and always use a towel to cover the top lid. Pressure builds up doing this and I would not want you having hot soup all over your kitchen!

Blend the mixture into a smooth consistency. Do this in batches if you have to. Once you have a smooth mixture, return it back to the pot on the stove. Add the beans if you are using them. Bring the soup to a medium-low heat, and during this time cooke your bacon. I like to add in the sliced kielbasa as well when cooking the bacon to get it a bit crisp.

Add the kielbasa, cooked and crumbled bacon, Yukon potatoes, and ribbons of collard greens to the soup, and cook until the potatoes are for tender. Season with any salt, to taste, if you desire.

Ladle into your soup bowls, keep your head down, and dig in! This soup is super comforting and perfect on any winter day. Serve with some nice rustic bread for dipping and repeat! Enjoy.