I was a late bloomer in the kitchen but I have always been kind of a professional eater. Even as a kid, I was choosing my friends based on what I thought their mothers could offer me in way of snacks. The last thing I needed was another manga cake friend named Andrea who had a mom serving up Kraft Dinner for lunch when I could befriend young Rui who’s mom was slinging bacalhau fritters . After years spent travelling, eating and exploring, I gained some kitchen chops and by 2010 I started my blog, The Yum Yum Factor, originally as a way to catalogue the dishes that I cooked for friends and family so they would stop pestering me for recipes. I consider myself a solid home cook with an adventurous palette, a high tolerance for burns and cuts and a desire to eat the world.
I had my first chorizo and potato taco almost 30 years ago in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan. On Sundays, they close the streets to traffic in the city centre and let street vendors peddle their wares, people dance in the middle of the road and everywhere you look, there is food. I picked up a couple little tacos de chorizo con papas and a handful of napkins and found a table. They were really spicy and the red tinged grease dripped all over my dress but it was so delicious that I didn't care - it was love at first bite. Nobody would ever try to claim that it was, in any way, a healthy dish so, over the years, I have tried to cut down on the fat by adding ground mushrooms to my chorizo, a la blend and extend. This always works really well so that got me wondering whether I could just skip the sausage altogether?
After much experimentation, I realized that the mushrooms worked best when I roasted them before grinding them and once I got that worked out, the rest all fell into place. To try to replicate the pork sausage feel, I was going to use pork lard but if I realized that if I could skip that, I could make this a vegetarian/vegan dish so, instead, I used vegetable shortening, adding a bit of miso for some "umami" and then threw in all of the spices that I would use if I were making homemade chorizo. Because this dish is not dripping with pork fat, the tacos needed a little bit of sauce and a drizzled of Salsa Verde is fabulous. If you use the cheese, it's a great vegetarian dish and if you skip it you've got yourself a vegan "chorizo" taco.
Mushroom "Chorizo" and Potato Tacos
This recipe makes approx 6 cups of filling. All of the elements can be made ahead of time, just reheat the "chorizo" potato and the corn tortillas right before it's time to eat.
1 kg white button mushrooms (you will end up with about 230g after roasting)
1 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of black pepper
1/3 cup of olive oil
!/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 onion, minced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced with a tables of sauce
1 tbls mexican oregano
1 tbls ancho chili powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbls smoked paprika
pinch ground cloves
! tbls fresh thyme
1 tbls achiote paste (if you can't find it, leave it out)
1 tbls red miso
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 yukon gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
pinch kosher salt
Corn tortillas, feta or queso fresco, **pickled red onion and *Salsa Verde
Preheat oven to 450F
Wipe any dirt off of the mushrooms with a damp cloth and slice them in approx 1/4" slices. Prepare two baking pans by dipping the corner of a sheet of paper towel in the olive oil and coat each pan lightly - it doesn't take much oil to do this.
Toss the sliced mushrooms with the rest of the olive oil, add the salt and pepper and mix well. Divide the mushrooms between the two sheets and roast for 30 minutes, rotating the pans after 15 minutes if they don't fit side by side. Remove, set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Once the mushrooms have cooled, scrape them into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it is coarsely ground.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over med to med high heat and melt the vegetable shortening. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it just starts to colour, add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
Now add in the chipotle chili, oregano, ancho chili, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cloves and thyme and stir for a couple of minutes until it's really fragrant. Then stir in the miso and the the achiote paste,( if you are using that) with the vinegar, mix well before finally adding in the ground mushrooms. Turn the heat down to med low and stir frequently as you continue to fry all of this mixture together.
Meanwhile, put the diced potatoes in a pot, cover them with water, add a pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn it down a bit and simmer them until they are very tender. Drain the cooked potatoes and add them to the pan of mushrooms and turn the heat back up to medium high.
With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture almost constantly, mashing the potatoes down a bit while you go for another 5 minutes or so. At this point, turn the heat back down to med low and let the potato and mushroom keep warm, stirring from time to time as you get the rest of the stuff ready.
Heat a dry, heavy skillet over med high heat, get a clean tea towel ready and heat up your corn tortillas. Cook each one for a minute per side and remove to the clean towel, making sure they stay wrapped up as you go. When you are all done, keep them wrapped in the tea towel, only removing them as you need them.
To make a taco, lay a tortilla on a plate, spoon on a generous amount of the mushroom "chorizo" and potato, drizzle on the salsa verde, scatter a few pickled red onions over that and then sprinkle some crumbled feta or queso fresco on top of the whole thing.
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbls minced red onion
2 tbls white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp kosher salt
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
Put all the ingredients in a blender or mini food processor and whiz until you pureed and set aside. You can store in the fridge for a week or two.
**Pickled Red Onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tsp black peppercorns
juice from 1 mandarin orange or 1/2 small orange
pinch hot chili flake optional.
Put your sliced onions in a strainer and pour boiling water over them to blanch them. Stuff them into a glass jar. Mix together the salt, sugar, vinegar, garlic, orange juice and peppercorns and a pinch of hot chilis if you want some heat. Set aside and they are ready to use in half an hour but they are great, left in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Wow, I can not wait to add these tacos to my Meatless Monday meal rotation! Carole never ceases to amaze with her creative variations of her own favourites found abroad. Big thanks are in order for joining us as our guest!!