My oldest sister tends to not eat meat from time to time, and from time to time I mean like every day. Something I’ve had to come to terms with and accept. Oh she’s not strictly vegetarian or anything like that. She just prefers to torture me by not eating meat or chicken or pork. Talk about total weirdo. Gosh how embarrassing, I can’t believe we’re related. Alien alert. I kid, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being vegetarian. Insert my mother telling me, “be careful what you say because you’ll probably end up married to a vegetarian for the rest of your life.” And as luck would have it, I’m smitten with a vegetarian, go figure. Thanks mom! If I didn’t love meat and chicken and pork myself, basically all foods, I’d be one too. I just wouldn’t have the will power or strength to give up certain things like bacon and pepperoni. Did I mention bacon? My sister does have a soft spot for seafood though, which makes up for it I guess, but that’s a whole other story for another time.
Said sister also happens to really love potatoes. One time, she even went as far as to say that she could eat potatoes everyday, in every which way imaginable. It went something like this, “I could eat potatoes every day, in every which way imaginable.” Whoa just like that. She’s the type of person who could eat mashed potatoes with a side of fries and potato salad and not care about what people think. On Thanksgiving she pretty much only eats mashed potatoes and gives thanks to the people who invented mashed potatoes. Talk about climbing Mt. Starch, but you know what, I’m okay with that. Mostly because I’d be right there with her eating all those potatoes until the end of time. Although I’d have a side of tater tots on top of all them other taters on my plate. We’re potato loving people, what can I say? Perhaps in another life I was a potato? I was going to say potato farmer but somehow potato came out and I was too lazy to fix it. Maybe I was a potato though. I’d probably make a good potato too, just give me a couch and stand back. Ba rum bum pisshh. If I was a potato in my past life—which I’m not saying I was but I’m not saying I wasn’t either because you never know—I was most definitely probably a russet potato because let’s be honest, good ol’ russets are the best potatoes. We grow big and are perfect baked and stuffed with sour cream and butter and cheese and bacon and chives served with a gigantic steak on the side. Yes I did just say “we.” Us fellow potatoes that is.
I wish I could say I invented potato tacos. Mostly because I’d be rich and famous and people would love me and my name would be synonymous with a totally delicious dish that involved potatoes—something I was in my past life, did you know that? But also because I might’ve already told people I invented potato tacos which isn’t necessarily true. I mean, Jonathan Melendez Potato Taco Inventor just sounds so cool, right? That’s what my business cards say. The first time I had potato tacos, actually, was when I was younger. My potato-loving sister dated a guy whose mother made amazing potato tacos. In my opinion she should have stayed with the man just for that alone, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow like I was saying, my sister’s boyfriend’s mother knew how to get down with potatoes and subsequently changed my potato obsessed life forever. Cut to me now telling people I invented potato tacos and was a potato in my past life. Just you wait until my high school reunion rolls around. I’ll totally spread those lies like no one’s business. I’ll also exit the reunion in a helicopter, right after my big dance finale. And if you get that movie reference, you and I are now best friends. Let’s have potato tacos for dinner, yes? I’ll tell you all about how I invented potato tacos and what life was like for me in Idaho as a russet potato.
We begin our taco making quest by roasting some garlic for our potato filling. I’m going to keep calling it potato filling but in reality it’s just mashed potatoes we’re making. Yeah mashed potatoes stuffed all up in a taco. I took it there.
We’re going to need a whole bunch of garlic. Like when you think it’s enough garlic, add more because that’s how much we’re going to use. Before you start complaining about garlic and how strong a flavor it is, ask yourself this question, “Have I ever eaten roasted garlic before? But like really?” If you answered yes, well then you know perfectly well that roasted garlic is like no other flavor in the world. It’s AMAZING. It isn’t strong and pungent anymore, but rather it’s sweet and mellow. A completely different garlic. Like garlic’s long lost cousin. And if you answered no, well then, now you know.
Peel a bunch of garlic cloves and place them on a few sheets of aluminum foil.
**Note: We’re going to roast the garlic in foil because it’ll help keep in all the juices and awesome flavor.**
Season with salt and pepper and olive oil.
Tightly wrap the garlic into a foil packet, sealing off the ends so that nothing leaks out during roasting. You might have to wrap it a second time to ensure that doesn’t happen. The last thing you want is the oil to spill out and then cause smoking from the oven and then the smoke will leak out of the oven and set the fire alarm off and then next thing you know, you’re in a cloud of garlic oil smoke and the alarm wont shut up so you’re standing in front of the alarm, fanning it with a pillow because that’s all you could find at the moment. Not that that’s ever happened to me or anything. I’m just guessing.
Place the packet in a 425°F oven and roast undisturbed for about 25 to 30 minutes. It’ll start to smell really fragrant and delicious and as soon as you start to think to yourself, “Oh boy something smells really good. I’m hungry for whatever that is! I need to eat it now!” Then you’ll know it’s ready.
In the meantime, let’s turn our attention to the taters.
Peel a few yellow potatoes. If you don’t have yellow potatoes on hand, don’t worry about it, you can use russet potatoes or even red potatoes. Heck, use whatever potato you’d like to use. It’s completely up to you. Any potato would taste great in these tacos, let’s be honest.
Once all the potatoes have been peeled, give them a rinse and cut them into a large dice. It doesn’t really matter what size you cut the potatoes just as long as they are all the same size.
**Tip: By cutting the potatoes the same size, it ensures that they all cook at the same time. If the potatoes were cut into different sizes, the small pieces would be done first and turn to mush by the time the bigger pieces were ready.**
Throw the cut potatoes into a large pot and fill it with cold water, enough to cover the potatoes over 2 inches above their surface. Put a lid on it and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove the lid and continue to cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
Drain the potatoes into a colander, shaking off the excess water. Transfer to a large bowl for mashing.
Like any really good mashed potato recipes, you’re going to need some butter. Yes, real honest-to-goodness butter. Not margarine. Not vegetable oil spread. N0 weirdo lab experiment. Just butter.
Add a few tablespoons into the bowl with the potatoes.
We’re also going to need some milk. I like to use buttermilk just because I like the flavor it gives the taters. But also because buttermilk is made with skim milk so I feel somewhat better about myself.
And because this recipe wasn’t decadent enough for me, I’m also going to ask you to add a bit of sour cream. It’s just a tad, mostly because it makes the taters creamy.
Doesn’t this recipe just sound and look delicious already? We haven’t even finished it yet, but all I want to do is eat it already. I mean butter and sour cream and buttermilk and potatoes? Come on, it’s torturous.
Start to mash and smash the potatoes, incorporating all the wonderful butter and milk and sour cream.
If you find your potatoes to be too dry and crumbly, you can add more buttermilk and mash it in to create a smooth texture.
Let’s season our potato filling with some salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika.
Stir in the seasonings and then add the garlic. You remember our oven roasted garlic right? The one we pulled out of the oven a while ago? I don’t want you to forget about that because that’s where all the real flavor comes in.
Smush in the roasted garlic into the potatoes, making sure to really crush the garlic with the masher to extract all of their flavor.
**Tip: For extra smooth potatoes, you can use a mixer for this step to really whip them up. I like them slightly chunky because I don’t like to feel like I’m eating baby food. I mean I haven’t eaten baby food since I was a baby and even then I didn’t eat it. I demanded fried chicken and mac and cheese when I was a baby. It totally freaked people out but I didn’t care because it was delicious.**
Do you see that? That right there ladies and gentlemen is pure potato heaven. That’s what I wish I could sleep in. Just bring me my pillow and blanket and nestle me into that garlicy tater bliss.
This needs a little color. A pop of green. Mostly just vanity because I feel like it needs that little extra something to please the eye, but a little for taste too because it’s all about taste really.
I like to slice a few scallions and throw them into the mix.
Cut off the ends and the tops of the dark green part, and then give them a thin slice.
**Tip: You can also just chop some fresh flat-leaf parsley and use that instead if you don’t like scallions. Hey don’t laugh, some people don’t like scallions.**
Toss in the scallions and give it one final stir.
Once you’ve stirred in the scallions, you are officially done with the potato filling aka mashed potatoes aka party in a bowl aka the best thing you’ll ever make. You can put it off to the side
and snack on it little by little while you finish off the rest of the recipe and forget about it while you finish putting together the rest of this recipe.
If you’ve forgotten by now, this recipe is called Potato Tacos so we ned to make some tacos right? Sure we can stop here but then this post would just be garlic scallion potatoes and I’m not sure you’d be happy with just that.
You can use store bought crunchy taco shells if you’re in a rush or just plain lazy. Today I wasn’t lazy so I decided to make my own taco shells. It’s actually worth it so I think you should too. It’s super simple too.
Heat a skillet filled with about 2 inches of oil (vegetable, corn or canola) over medium high heat. Wait until the oil gets really hot, that’s important. You don’t want warm oil because you’ll get soggy taco shells. No fun.
Grab a corn tortilla, corn not flour, with a pair of tongs and dip it into the oil carefully. Then grab one side and slightly fold it over while one side fries. This is how you make that taco shape.
Once the one side is crunchy and golden brown, flip the shell over and fry the other side. A good trick to keep the shell shape is to place the tongs in the middle and sort of prop it open while it fries. I don’t know if I just confused you but I kinda sorta just confused myself so hopefully you got it.
When the tortilla is golden brown and crunchy all around you can drain off the oil and transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Then transfer the shells on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. This will prevent them from getting soggy. It also will allow you to rewarm them in the oven once ready to serve and eat.
Repeat this frying step with the rest of the tortillas or until desired amount of taco shells are reached. I wanted to eat about 100 potato tacos so I fried a bunch of shells. No big deal.
Now that the taco shells are all done and the potato filling is waiting to be made into tacos (There is still some left right?) we can focus on some toppings. The only topping that matters, in my opinion, is avocado. Best taco topping for sure.
Cut and scoop a few avocados into a bowl.
Season with salt, black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. You can also use lemon juice if you have a lemon on hand, but I like the flavor lime gives it as opposed to lemon.
That’s pretty much it. Smash it all together with a fork until slightly chunky and smooth.
Nothing too fancy because I don’t want to mask the awesome flavor of the avocado itself. But if you’d like you can add tomatoes, onions, and cilantro and turn it into a real guacamole. That would be great too.
I didn’t want to make a guacamole because I like diced tomatoes as a topping as well. So if you also like tomatoes on your tacos, well then, dice a few tomatoes like I did.
I also shredded some sharp cheddar cheese. Cut some iceberg lettuce into thin ribbons, and poured store-bought red salsa into a bowl. I like to set everything out in bowls and serve it like a bar for people to pick and choose their toppings.
If you’re not feeling the vegetarian-ness of this recipe, you can fill these tacos with other things like grilled chicken or steak. Or shredded chicken in a tomato broth. You can also do a mixture of sautéed veggies, like peppers and onions if you’d like.
Or maybe you’re super excited, like I am, of the idea of mashed potatoes stuffed into crunchy taco shells topped with guacamole and lettuce and cheese and tomatoes and salsa. I won’t blame you if you are. Potatoes and tacos should always stick together. What was my life like before mashed potatoes met tacos? I was lost and these tacos found me. I wasn’t living life right, I was missing out on one of the world’s best combinations ever. Next time you make mashed potatoes, you should totally make extra and then fry up some tortillas and turn the leftovers into tacos. You know you want to.
I think it goes without saying that these tacos are best the day you make them. Well, the shells are at least. The potatoes can definitely be made ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to make some tacos. I’d save the frying of the shells until the day of. Even right before you’re about to eat them. You want them to be crunchy and crispy and fresh as possible.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, these tacos will satisfy any Tex-Mex dinner craving. Make a big batch of the potato filling and eat tacos for weeks. Okay, maybe not weeks but perhaps two days. Top them with anything your heart desires. Use store-bought salsas to jazz them up. They’re an easy and fast weeknight meal.
yield: 4 t0 6 servings
- 8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated onion (onion powder)
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic (garlic powder)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup slice scallions
- 12 corn tortillas
- oil for frying (vegetable, canola or corn)
- 2 avocados
- 1 lime, juiced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- iceberg lettuce, shredded
- cheddar cheese, shredded
- salsa (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place the peeled garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Wrap into a tight package and secure with another piece of foil, making sure the ends are tightly folded over to prevent oil leakage. Roast in the oven, untouched, for about 25 t0 30 minutes.
2. Place the peeled and diced potatoes into a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl, or back into the pot. Add the butter, buttermilk, sour cream, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Mash and smash the potatoes until smooth and slightly chunky. If the potatoes appear to be too dry, add a splash more buttermilk. Stir in the sliced scallions.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with about 2 inches of oil. Once the oil is hot, fry the tortillas into taco shells until they are crispy and golden brown all around. If you need help in frying the shells, use the photo visuals up above! Drain on a paper towel lined plate and then transfer to a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Once all the shells are fried, rewarm them in the oven.
4. Smash the avocados in a bowl with salt, pepper, and fresh lime juice. Serve the tacos with diced tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and salsa, if desired. Serve right away. Filling can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to eat, just reheat. Fry the tortilla shells just before serving. Enjoy!