I live in a city where people drive around with “Papas and Beer” stickers on their back windshields like badges of honor. It means they’ve been to Rosarito or Ensanada (or maybe Van Nuys) and they have experienced the Americanized nightclub in Baja. It’s like an “in” thing and makes the people in the vehicle instantly more cool than I am, because I have never gone – not even to one of the fakey ones in the Valley.
To me, “Papas and Beer” just reminds me of tacos de papas y chorizo, a delicious and forbidden food. I can’t eat white potatoes. I shouldn’t load up on tacos. Two corn tortillas is my limit for the day, and that is maybe once a week. Chorizo is made of processed stuff that must be bad because it’s fat content cannot really fit on the label in one line. Ok, so I exaggerate, but you understand.
It’s when I wake up in the morning on Sunday an there is half a cooked sweet potato waiting politely in the refrigerator, and a forbidden tube-shaped package of chorizo (I don’t know how it got there) in the meat drawer, one little corner of the wrapper peeking out at me that I begin to dream of sandy beaches, balmy waves and… tacos gone wild filled with picadillo concocted with chorizo and sweet potato and cage free fried eggs. You know, the sloppy, delicious kind of breakfast that you eat maybe once a year because you just have to get the craving out of your system. Actually, it’s a perfect Sunday or holiday breakfast.
To make this a healthy recipe, I went overboard with the vegetables. Because it is based on the Cuban-style picadillo, you can add a whole onion and a ton of garlic and bell peppers and olives. I must admit, I couldn’t bring myself to add raisins or anything sweeter than the sweet potato to this savory hash. The sweet potato itself, el camote, is native to the Yucatan peninsula and was historically and important part of the Mayan diet. While it may have fallen from favor in the modern Mexican diet, there are plenty of local and regional recipes that can be found featuring los camotes. That’s a great thing, since sweet potatoes only have 1/4 the carbs of white potatoes and a bursting with Vitamin A.
As for the chorizo, there are many options to try. Store-bought chorizo comes in beef, pork and soy varieties. Soyrizo is a non-GMO product with a taste that won’t offend most health-conscious chorizo lovers. If you are worried about that pre-packaged chorizo, visit your local Mexican carniceria to see if the butcher makes an sells fresh chorizo, To make your own chorizo, cure beef or pork overnight with some vinegar and a lot of chile powder (the variety is your choice but consider the amount of heat you want to attain.) make sure that you buy or make a Mexican-style chorizo, as there are different styles from many parts of the world.
Mexican chorizo is a specialty from Toluca, where they also make chorizo verde by incorporating espinicas, yes, spinach. If you can find some chorizo verde, please try it and let me know how this recipe comes out. if I find it first, I’ll let you know.
(Makes 6-8 servings)
1 sweet onion, diced
2 tbsp. (or more) minced garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cooked sweet potato, skinned and cut into chunks
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Spanish green olives, sliced (optional)
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 package (1/2 lb.) chorizo, beef or pork or soy
2 eggs per serving, fried or scrambled (I use Happy Eggs)
2 warm corn tortillas per serving (optional)
olive oil or coconut oil for sauteeing
lime wedges for squeezing over picadillo
shredded lettuce (if making tacos)
1. Dice onion and bell peppers. Mince the garlic. Chop the cilantro and slice the olives.
2. Pour about 2 tsp. oil into a heavy nonstick skillet and warm over medium heat.
3. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, olives and cilantro to the skillet and stir occasionally.
4. Seed and chop the tomatoes. Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet and stir into the caramelizing vegetables.
5. Peel the cooked sweet potato and chop into chunks, a little larger than bite-sized as they will continue to break down during cooking. Combine the sweet potatoes with the ingredients in the skillet.
6. Add the cumin, nutmeg, allspice and fennel seed.
7. Place the chorizo in the same skillet and break it up with a fork. Continue to stir it until it is well combined and resembles a hash.
8. Lower the heat to a setting that will keep the skillet warm. Let the mixture continue to cook on the low setting so that the bottom of the hash will form a sticky, dark film, or let it get pegao, as they say in Puerto Rico. Ideally, that layer will scrape up easily and enhance the flavor of the picadillo when served.
9. Fry or scramble as many free-range eggs as desired to serve over the picadillo.
10. Warm as many corn tortillas as desired if you want to have the option to eat this as tacos. I strongly suggest that you at least try it. I warm my tortillas in the pan I fried the eggs in so they get a little bit of moisture from the remaining fat that was used without being fried. You can also wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven or warm them in a dry comal or flat skillet.
11. Top with your favorite salsa or hot sauce, squeeze some lime over the picadillo, stuff some lettuce in the tortilla along with the hash and egg and enjoy a guilty pleasure – but less guilty than it originally would have been, believe me!
Note: This recipe, as written, is gluten-free. If you buy pre-made chorizo, check the ingredients for hidden gluten if you are sensitive.