One of the things I missed the most about visiting Mexico was mi abuelita Mami Nina’s cooking. She used to sell raspados (a shaved-ice treat made with fresh fruit syrups) and sopes on the weekends to help make ends meet. It took more than ten years to get back to Mexico, and during that first visit back, I noticed things hadn’t changed: She still opens up her house on the weekends to anyone who’s hungry, serving pozole, sopitos, and the crunchiest tacos de papa I’ve ever had, served with a big pile of lettuce and queso Cotija.
- 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/ center 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 favorite hot sauce.
Reprinted with permission from Chicano Eats by Esteban Castillo.