We’ve got gas!
Alright, that was a poor dig at shcok vlue, but really we do have gas. The kind you cook with. Oh the joy of fire! Every time I see those sinuous flickering flames licking at the base of the pan, I do a little jig right there in the kitchen. No fancy pants induction stove is a match for a simple gas flame. Amey, who learned to cook only in this country, which means only on electric ranges, is a bit nonplussed at how quickly all his food cooks. He may never live in a house with an electric range again!
Oil starts to shimmer almost as soon as it hits a hot pan. Two-minute noodles actually take two minutes instead of eight. This is the best part of our move, my fabulous new kitchen with its darling gas range. Untouched by human hands before us. Well, except for the people who installed it. I have big plans for this stove. It is way bigger than my previous one. The last one matched the size of my old kitchen and was really made for people who believed cooking meant boiling water for tea. It was tiny. Our friends often marvelled that we cooked the meals on it that we did. The coils were all too close to each other to ever allow all four to be in use at the same time, thereby involving long stints in the kitchen if inviting company over for a meal. This full size range is a treat. Cooking is more of a joy than it ever was. Even the OCD-like reverential cleaning we put it through every time we use it is easier. Things are looking great in our kitchen.
Once we got here and settled in a bit, one of the first things I pulled from my files was this recipe for tacos. I’d been saving it for summer which is a bit silly considering it doesn’t call for summer ingredients or any such thing. You could just as easily make it at any time of year. To me, however, there is something inexplicably summer about tacos. The hand-held food, the riot of colour, the tongue-tantalizing hit of heat and spice, they evoke beaches and sun. I’d been daydreaming of taco picnics in the park in the cold of April. We haven’t quite gotten to the picnic yet but there have been tacos. Several experiments, like the accompanying chicken taco in the photo above; but mostly there has been a repeat of this chorizo-and-potato kind, because they are quite quick and delicious in an I-want-to-eat-these-for-every-meal-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way.
The original recipe comes from Tacolicious, one of my top two favourite Mexican restaurants in the city. It calls for making your own fresh chorizo for the tacos. You have to go the restaurant and try these. They are like no other taco you’ve tasted. All the spices and textures combine into one magnificent bite. And well, as any reader of this blog know, they had me at potato.
For those who don’t live in San Francisco or for those who would like to speed things along slightly, my version is one that doesn’t require you to have all the spices. It also cheats with ready chorizo. I made it out of necessity since I had pre-made chorizo at home, but no ground pork. Make sure you like the chorizo you buy because it flavours the potatoes too. I love the spice in chorizo and while the flavour is completely different and the texture varies, these tacos are reminiscent of shepherd’s pie, if it were to be smoked, spiced and wrapped in a tortilla.
Chorizo and potato tacos
Inspired by the Tacolicious recipe via Food and Wine
Makes 6-8 tacos
Tortillas – 6 to 8, corn or wheat
Pork chorizo – diced fine, about 1 pound
Potatoes – 4 medium, diced small
Red onion – 1/2, finely diced
Chipotle in adobo sauce – 1 tbsp
Cumin – 1 tsp
Oil – 3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Shredded cheese to top (optional)
– Heat a saucepan filled with 3 cups of water. When it comes to a boil, add some salt then parboil diced potatoes for 6-8 minutes.
– Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan until it shimmers. Then add the onion and saute for a minute.
– Add the diced chorizo and cook until the oil turns red. Remove some of this oil and reserve. Remove chorizo from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
– Return the pan to heat and add the reserved red oil. Add some cumin.
– Add the diced potatoes. Sprinkle salt to taste and cook until the potatoes start to brown.
– Deglaze the pan with some vinegar and water and scrape off all the brown bits. Add the chorizo and mash the potatoes and chorizo in together.
– Spread into as much of a layer as possible, then let sit so that the underside of the mixture develops a crust, about 10 minutes.
– Mix up, spread into a layer and let brown for another 5 minutes.
– Move off the fire and top with chopped cilantro (and cheese if using).
Serve on warm tortillas with some spicy salsa of your choice.
I diced the potatoes so I didn’t have to mash them later. I just smush them in the pan with the back of my spoon. I like the extra hit of cumin here, though this really depends on your choice of chorizo. There are so many spices already present in this wonderful sausage that you may not need anything but an adjustment of seasoning in your final potato and meat creation.
You could dice up some onion or marinate a few slices of crunchy jalapeno in some vinegar and use them for toppings. Or simply use your favourite salsa. Or don’t mess with perfection. These do very well just by themselves, maybe with a pitcher of margaritas served alongside. So far they’ve been my new favourite thing out of my new kitchen. Next to a finger-lickin’ good chicken tacos and a fabulous tomatillo salsa I have coming up next. For now though, excuse me while I go back to gaze in adoration upon the pretty blue flames.