Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Mexico Style Tacos

I've eaten at some of the city's top restaurants and sampled some amazing meals during my travels, but when asked what my favorite dish is, I still answer with "My mother's New Mexico style tacos." 

My mother knows this, and so on my first night here at my parents' for the holidays, she prepared me some tacos.

What makes these tacos unique is that potatoes are tossed in with the main filling (in this case, ground beef).  My father, who was raised in a Native American household in New Mexico, explained to me that the tradition of using potatoes originated with the very practical purpose of stretching the budget: a little meat goes a long way when served with potatoes.  The tradition of using potatoes continues into today mainly for the flavor it adds to the dish.  The ground beef and potatoes are stuffed into a corn tortilla piled high with fresh garnishes, like leafy greens, tomatoes, and avocado, transforming the humble taco into a not-so-ordinary meal

New Mexico Style Tacos

Adapted from my mother Naoko's recipe.  Serves 4-6

For the filling
2 potatoes, peeled and diced (Russet potatoes are not recommended as they fall apart easily)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped

For the garnish

1/4 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 ripe avocado*
shredded cheese
soft-shelled corn tortillas
oil (for frying)

Dice potato into 1/4 inch cubes.  Chop onions. 
In a large skillet, brown beef.  Set meat aside and drain excess fat from pan.

In same frying pan, saute onions until translucent, about 4 minutes.  

Return meat to pan and add potatoes and seasoning**.  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Heat oil in small frying pan until hot.  

Deep fry the corn tortilla, and pat excess oil with paper towel.

To the tortilla, add the beef and potato filling.  

Top with garnish.

Serve immediately.


*To make guacamole, add to the avocado some chopped tomatoes, white onion, garlic powder, and a splash of lime juice.

**1 taco seasoning packet may be used, along with 1/2 cup water.

Alternatively, to make your own seasoning, combine the following:
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

My father, enjoying food he grew up on.  It's his favorite dish, too!

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