The Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever. Plus, Tacos de Papa!

Breakfast potatoes — hash browns, if you prefer — have forever been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve always been able to make passable potatoes, better if I added a bit of duck fat or lard. But that was kind of cheating. And they were still never as good as those little oblong potato pucks at McDonalds.

But try enough different things and every once in a while you stumble on something really good by accident. That’s how I came to discover the best breakfast potatoes ever. (Note: If you have leftover potatoes, this preparation also works beautifully for the traditional tacos de papa — potato tacos — of Mexico City. I’ve included a recipe for these below the potato recipe.)

I’m typically a skin-on potato guy. There’s lots of vitamins in the skin, and they lend a rustic quality. But after reading an article about how non-organic potatoes were one of the worst things you could eat, I bought a big bag of organic russets. And the skin tasted like dirt. So for these particular potatoes, I do peel them. But you could leave the skin on if you prefer. The secret to their deliciousness seems to alchemize in the convergence of a small amount of Mexican pork chorizo, grapeseed oil and plain old water.

Interestingly, I had used these very ingredients before to make mediocre potatoes. But as is often the case in cooking, order and timing make all the difference.

Serve with some fried farm fresh eggs and a chunk of crusty ciabatta bread with sweet cream butter. A slice or two of thick maple bacon, if you must.

*   *   *

Best breakfast potatoes ever
serves 4 as part of breakfast

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough, odd-shaped 1/2″ dice
1 inch of Mexican pork chorizo (about 2 oz.)
1/4 cup of grapeseed oil (canola oil will work but won’t taste as good)
water
flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Cut your peeled potatoes into 1/2-inch batons, then roughly chop and odd angles into medium-dice cubes. (Some will be bigger than others.)

Put your grapeseed oil in a large pan — preferably non-stick — over medium heat, and cooked the chorizo, stirring frequently, until dissolved. Add potatoes and cook until beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup water, turn heat up a little, and cook for another 5 minutes until water is almost gone. Add another 1/2 cup water and continue cooking, 5 more minutes, until water is gone and potatoes are sizzling. Add another couple tablespoons of grapeseed oil if it looks dry. Keeping heat on medium high, use a spatula move the potatoes around as they begin to brown and crisp up. Cook this way for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

*   *   *

Tacos de papa
serves 4

3 russet potatoes, cooked as above
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup crumbled queso cotija
1 large ripe avocado, sliced
salsa (a smoky chipotle-based salsa would be tastiest)

This recipe will especially shine if you take the time to make your own corn tortillas, or purchase fresh handmade ones.

After you’ve made the potatoes as described above, keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to put together your tacos.

Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Toast each of the tortillas in the pan, a minute or so on each side, until they begin to burn and blister slightly. Remove to a clean dishtowel or napkin and wrap. Repeat, stacking tortillas in the cloth, until all have been warmed. Compose your tacos:

On each tortilla, place a large scoop of potatoes. Add a slice of avocado and a spoonful of salsa. Top with crumbled queso cotija, and serve. Might I suggest the Skinny Girls margarita as the perfect accompaniment?

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greggie
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 06:27:27

    Sean,

    I thought you’d be a Potatoes O’Brien fan ):
    Yes, I know that anything remotely Irish I associate with you.
    These tacos de papa sound really good, especially with that margarita.

    Greggie

    Reply

  2. Andy
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 18:30:14

    I don’t have a photo….just a big square with a little square in it with a question mark in the little square.

    Reply

  3. Andy
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 18:30:41

    oooops, my photo just downloaded….

    Reply

  4. monica
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 22:48:26

    I happen to make excellent chorizo potatoes, going to make some potato tacos next week I think 🙂

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Oct 04, 2011 @ 22:50:51

      I bet yours are better than mine, because you’re a REAL Mexican!!! (Well, at least a real Mexican-Irish girl ; ) Don’t forget a nice dark smoky salsa with your tacos! MMmmmmmm.

      Reply

  5. Lisa Gaskin
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 01:09:47

    Curious about the non-organic potato thing…I’m a DEF skin-on advocate…

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Oct 06, 2011 @ 02:55:06

      Read a thing online recently about the 10 worst produce that you should buy organic. Potato was in the top five, along with apples, spinach and I can’t remember what else. Apparently they’re like sponges and soak up whatever is in the ground. Also read the 10 things it didn’t really matter if you bought organic or not — bananas, avocados, etc.

      Reply

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