Photograph byStephen Kent Johnson Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero

Crunch: Sound

Hard-Shell Potato Tacos

Mains from Issue 12 - Winter 2018 – The Senses

Taco Bell’s founder may not have invented the hard-shell taco, despite his claims otherwise, but his chain was instrumental in spreading the gospel of the crunchy, U-shaped food delivery system. While the hard-shell taco’s predominance remains planted firmly north of the border, Mexico has its own: tacos dorados, crisp, fried tacos, the potato version of which is popular at Lent. Our take tucks roasted potatoes, a limey radish slaw, cilantro, and avocado crema into a crunchy corn shell.

serves 4 to 6

  • 2 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 2 ¼ cups , divided
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 Tbsp spiced salt*, plus more to taste
  • large handful cilantro leaves

Avocado Crema
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large avocado

Pickled Radish
  • 1 small bunch radishes, halved and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

  • 1

    Preheat a baking sheet in a 475°F oven. Add potatoes to a large saucepan along with enough cold, salted water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until barely tender, 13-15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Smash lightly with hands, breaking apart any large pieces. Transfer potatoes to hot sheet pan and drizzle with ¼ cup oil. Bake, flipping halfway through cooking, about 30 minutes, or until edges are crispy. Sprinkle generously with spiced salt.

  • 2

    While potatoes are cooking, combine radishes with vinegar, lime juice, and ½ tsp salt. Chill, stirring every so often. Mash avocado and fold into sour cream. Season to taste and chill.

  • 3

    Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Heat ½-inch oil in a medium saucepan until it registers 350°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Using metal tongs, submerge a tortilla into oil for 15 seconds then bend with tongs to form a shell. Cook on both sides, turning repeatedly, until golden. Invert onto cooling rack and repeat with remaining tortillas.

  • 4

    Serve potato-stuffed shells with crema, radishes, cilantro, and crisp potato bits left behind on baking sheet for added crunch. Valentina or Tapatio sauce will add an extra kick.

    *Spiced Salt: Toast 1 tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp garlic powder½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cumin seeds, ½ tsp paprika, and a pinch ground cayenne in a dry skillet, and then stir in 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt.