Creamy Greens, Potatoes and Caramelized Onions for Tacos
Quelites, Papas y Cebollas Caramelizadas para Tacos
Some version of this dish has surfaced regularly on our menu at Frontera Grill for over three
decades. It’s inspired by a dish—rajas con crema, roasted poblanos with caramelized onions
and cream—that’s common wherever people sell the home-style tacos de guisados. With
added potatoes and greens, in my opinion, the dish soars as a wonderfully substantial taco
filling. About the dairy: While the crema, crème fraiche or heavy cream work like a charm, the sour
cream and yogurt are trickier. If the pan is too hot when you stir either of them in, they can
curdle. But clearly the leanest version of this dish would be made with nonfat yogurt, if that is
important to you. Just know that it is the most prone to curdling; if you get it incorporated
without curdling, the result is really quite delicious. On the flip side, you could leave out the
dairy completely and, instead, add the salsa to the skillet as you heat everything together just
before serving. The dish will lack that satisfying creamy texture—plus it will be spicier—but a lot
of people like it that way. And if, for some reason, taco making doesn’t seem to appeal, this mixture can be turned into a
great pasta dish.
12ounces (3 medium)boiling potatoes like the red-skin ones, peeled or not, cut into cubes a little smaller than ½ inch
1poundkale (I prefer black/Lacinato), lamb’s-quarters greens (quelites de ceniza) or amaranth greens (quintoniles), stems removed, cut crosswise into ½-inch strips (you’ll need about 4 ½ gently packed cups of sliced leaves)
1cupMexican crema, crème fraiche or heavy cream OR 1 cup sour cream or Greek-style yogurt
About 4ounces (1 cup)crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like goat cheese, salted farmers cheese or mild feta
Roast and peel the poblanos. Roast the poblanos over an open flame or up close under a hot broiler until they are evenly charred all over. Cool until handleable, then rub off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and the attached stem. Quickly rinse the chile flesh to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin and slice into ¼-inch strips. If the strips are long, cut them in half.
Caramelize the onion. Heat whichever oil or fat you’ve chosen in a very large (12-inch skillet) over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until richly browned, about 8 minutes.
Cook the potatoes and greens. Meanwhile, fill a large (4-quart) saucepan about 2/3 full with water, heavily salt it and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook just until completely tender, about 8 minutes. Use a spider/skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to the caramelized onions. Return the saucepan to the medium-high heat and add the greens. Cook until tender, anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, depending on your greens and how done you like them. Use a spider/skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the greens to the skillet. Add the chile strips.
Finish the dish. Add the crema (or crème fraiche or whipping cream)—but not the sour cream or yogurt—and cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, for the flavors to come together and the crema to thicken enough to coat everything. If using the sour cream or yogurt, heat everything in the skillet, stirring until all the vegetables are steaming. Remove from the heat, let stand a minute, then stir in the sour cream or yogurt. Taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon (if you heavily salted the potato/kale water).
Serve. Scoop the mixture into a serving dish, sprinkle with the cheese and serve with the warm tortillas and salsa.