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Oaxaca Tacos


I think I’m in love with these tacos. Why? Well, although they are made with such simple ingredients they are packed with complex textures and flavors. They are made with a smear of mashed potatoes, sprinkled with red pepper cheese, and a dash of diced red pepper. Be prepared to  make a bit of a mess deep frying the corn tortillas, but it’s worth it. Once cooked, these Oaxaca Tacos are a perfect match with black bean stew [2] and a little dollop of lime creme fraiche. Now, I just have to figure out how to pronounce “Oaxaca” correctly…

Oaxaca Tacos
from Cafe Flora Cookbook [3]

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (approx 3 large potatoes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded, smoked mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
(I used a pre-shredded, four cheese Mexican mix)
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Vegetable oil for preparing tortillas
8 thin corn tortillas (I had enough to fill 10 tortillas)
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into fine dice

Lime Creme Fraiche
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I used greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zet
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the creme fraiche, lime zest and juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Prepare tacos.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (Note: I preheated the oven after I finished cooking the potatoes.)

Put the potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Cook them, covered, until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. (The time depends on the size of the chunks.)

Drain the potatoes well, and mash with the butter and salt. Cool completely.

In a small bowl, mix the cheese with the red pepper flakes, and set aside.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put a tortilla in the hot oil and fry until it is soft, 8 to 10 seconds; flip and repeat with the other side. Do not let the tortilla get crisp by letting the oil bubble up around its edges; reduce the heat to medium-low or low if this occurs. (It’s important for the tortillas to be oil so they get crisp when roasted in the oven.)

Put the tortilla on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Continue to heat tortillas, piling them one atop each other under the foil cover. (Keep the tortillas warm so they’re pliable enough to stuff and roll without breaking.)

Place each tortilla on a flat surface.

Using a 1/3-cup measure, put a scoop of mashed potatoes in the middle of each tortilla.

Pat the potatoes with your hand to flatten them a little.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the bell pepper…

and 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture.

Roll the tortilla into a large tube so both edges overlap (but the end s are still open), and fasten with 1 or 2 wooden picks as if you were sewing with them.

(Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure,  I should have “sewed” the tortillas parallel to the fold because when these tacos cook they expand a bit; thus, busting the whole taco open. Most made it out ok, but a few still opened up but they were easy to close again.)

Put the filled tortillas in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet, toothpicks facing up. Bake until the cheese has melted and the tortillas start to brown and crisp around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve the tortillas by puting 1/2 cup of the Black Bean Stew [2] on  a plate. Remove the toothpicks from the tacos. Drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of the Lime Creme Fraiche over the tacos, and top with a tablespoon of feta. (Feel free to also throw some chipotle salsa on the plate and some greens drizzled with fresh lime juice and olive oil.)