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Mi abuelita's tacos de papa from Chicano Eats.
In Chicano Eats, Esteban Castillo shares his version of Mexican-American cuisine.
Our cookbook of the week is Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with the author.
To try another recipe from the book, check out: Michelada ribs .
Every weekend, Esteban Castillo ’s abuelita (grandma) Nina converts her backyard in Colima, Mexico into a makeshift restaurant. Her tacos de papa (potato tacos) — one of his family’s “famous taco recipes” — are a mainstay, along with sopes and pozole.
This recipe alone brings him back to Colima, Castillo says, evoking memories of watching his abuelita frying tacos de papa fearlessly. Dipping her fingers in hot oil as she placed each taco in the pan, she has no need for tongs.
“It takes me back to being a kid and watching her cook. It takes me back to that moment where I came back to Mexico and I saw her dipping her hands into that hot oil,” says Castillo. It’s a simple dish requiring minimal effort, he adds, yet very special at the same time. “It holds a lot of memories and really reminds me of my family.”
MI ABUELITA’S TACOS DE PAPA
(My Grandma’s Potato Tacos)
For the taco filling:
1 1/2 lb (680 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
4 large whole Roma (plum) tomatoes
1/4 small yellow onion
1 tomatillo, husked and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups (355 mL) chicken stock (or sub in your favourite veggie broth to make this vegan)
3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil for frying
Shredded cabbage or lettuce
Diced white onion
Cotija cheese (or your favourite vegan substitute)
Make the filling: In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the potatoes, garlic and water to cover by about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a bowl, add the salt and pepper, and mash. Adjust the salt to taste.
Make the sauce: Wipe out the large pot or Dutch oven you used for the potatoes and add the tomatoes, onion, tomatillo and garlic. Add water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm) and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the tomatoes soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
Drain the vegetables, then transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, salt and black pepper. Blend (be sure to open the steam vent/centre cap and cover with a towel to avoid explosive hot liquid) until smooth. Adjust the salt to taste.
Return the mixture to the pot, place the lid on and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes to cook the salsa through. Remove from the heat and set aside while you fry the tacos.
To assemble: Working in batches of 3 to 4, pop the tortillas in the microwave for about 45 seconds, or heat them up on a comal over medium heat for about 1 minute on each side. (Cold tortillas will rip.)
In a large skillet, heat 1 inch (2.5 cm) of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mashed potatoes to a tortilla, fold the tortilla in half, and fry until crispy and golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Fill each taco with a little shredded cabbage and a tomato slice, then ladle some of the tomato sauce over it. Finish by garnishing with some onion, radishes, Cotija and your favourite hot sauce.
Makes: 12 tacos
Excerpted from Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020