Can you really write a book on America's Greatest New Cooks and not mention Alex Stupak of Empellón? After all, it takes a great mind to move from avant-garde pastry to idiosyncratic Mexican cuisine in one successful fell swoop (even if Stupak insists it was a natural transition).
Stupak's cuisine takes all of the multitudinous flavors of Mexico and intensifies them further; a perfect example is his take on chorizo and potato tacos. Instead of sticking with spice-laden red chorizo, he chooses to embrace its green vegetal cousin, building parsely-laden grassy flavor to pair with roasted fingerling potatoes. To bring out even more of the earthy flavor, he adds kale to the mix. A crumble of queso fresco adds a punch of brightness to finish assembled the tacos.
Why I picked this recipe: Homemade chorizo and potatoes eaten inside a tortilla is always a good idea. Add some kale (healthy!) and some Alex Stupak-genius (inspiring!) and it's an even greater one.
What worked: Everything, from the chorizo-making process to the final taco assembly, worked like a dream and tasted like one too.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: If you're looking for a spicy chorizo, this isn't your recipe. That said, it wouldn't be wrong to add a charred jalapeno or two into the mix.
Reprinted with permission from Food & Wine: America's Greatest New Cooks Edited by Dana Cowin, copyright 2013. Published by American Express Publishing. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 50 minutes
- Total time:1 hour and 15 minutes, plus overnight chilling
- Green Chorizo
- 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/8 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- 1 clove
- 2 unpeeled garlic cloves
- 1 small poblano chile
- 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 pound ground pork shoulder
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves chopped
- 12 warm corn tortillas
- Crumbled queso fresco and Mexican crema (or sour cream), for serving
Make the green chorizo: In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, oregano, bay leaf and clove over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder and let cool completely, then finely grind them.
In the same skillet, roast the garlic cloves over high heat, turning, until tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Let the garlic cool, then peel and transfer the cloves to a blender.
Roast the poblano directly over a gas flame or under a preheated broiler, turning, until charred all over. Let cool, then peel, stem and seed the chile. Add the chile, parsley, sherry vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to the blender and puree until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix the ground pork with the puree and the spices. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the green chorizo and refrigerate overnight.
Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, tossing once, until golden and tender.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and the green chorizo and cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the chorizo with a spoon, until it is just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the kale and toss until just wilted, then add 1/3 cup of water. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender and the chorizo is cooked, about 10 minutes. Fold in the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the filling onto the tortillas and serve with queso fresco and crema.
Wine Pairing: Fresh, berry-rich Malbec: 2009 Catena Zapata