WHOLE30 DAY 27.
Every day closer to the end of Whole30, the happier I get. This wasn’t exactly a bad experience, per se, but an uncomfortable one for sure. I’m ready to be done — not so I can go out on a cheeseburger and lasagna binge — but mostly so I can start feeling like I have a life outside of food again.
A lot of people say that Whole30 changed their lives. I think it could have changed mine, if I’d done it a year ago — before I ever started reading and Googling the weird things I’d read on food labels, before I wanted to admit that what I ate probably had something to do with how I felt, and before I learned how to make real food out of real ingredients. It could have, maybe. But we’ll never know.
On Day 27, I had the boyfriend mix up a new batch of mayo. Keeping a tub in the fridge at all times is one of the most convenient things you can do, despite the fact that making mayonnaise sounds like the most inconvenient thing ever. It’s really not. It just takes a few minutes, a little patience, a lot of greasy clean-up, and a ton of patting yourself on the back for doing something that people will constantly be impressed with.
I put the mayo to good use right away by mixing up a big batch of tuna salad, with some chopped sweet mini peppers, celery, and red onions. Keeping a tub of this in the fridge at all times is the 2nd most convenient thing you can do.
So, a typical work-day lunch for me: salad with a scoop of tuna. Underneath that tuna is a fat wedge of beefsteak tomato and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
There’s a place in between Orange County and San Diego that my parents should thank. It was one of the only reasons I’d drive up to Orange County to say hello while going to college in San Diego. That, and free laundry services.
I’d make the trek up the 5, laundry basket in tow, and religiously pull off the Ave Magdalena exit and directly into the drive-thru of Pedro’s Tacos to order a Potato Taco.
I’ve been recreating them in my kitchen since college, using liberal quantities of frozen hash browns and Daisy sour cream. As I got older, I swapped out the hash brown oblongs for thinly sliced yukon golds, and added in some fajita-esque bell peppers and onions.
It’s been at least a year since I’d made my last batch of potato tacos, and on Whole30, Day 27, while watching some guy slinging tacos out of a truck in Austin, Texas on the Food Network, I wanted a potato taco more than anything else in the world (other than donuts).
So, I adapted.
SWEET POTATO + SAUSAGE LETTUCE WRAPS W/ CILANTRO-LIME WHITE SAUCE.
First thing’s first. Turn on your broiler — mine is inconveniently located in the lower panel of my oven, where I have to pretty much lay on the floor to access it. Hope yours is better or that you’re lucky enough to have a grill.
Once it’s ready to go, place your red onion and jalapeno in a foil-lined baking dish, coat them with a little bit of oil, then get down on the floor and slide them into the broiler — get them pretty close to the flame, if you can. Or put them on your grill. Or, somewhere on TV, I once saw somebody do this using a gas burner on the stove. Next time, I’m opting for that method.
The peppers should start to blacken up pretty shortly, so keep an eye on them and flip them over once they do. Once they’re all crazily-roasted on both sides, pull them out and cover them right away. This helps get the skin all loose, so they slip right off the peppers. Pull the skin off, and slice them up, removing the seeds and stems and other junk you don’t want to eat. Set them aside for later.
In a big skillet over medium-high heat, heat some olive oil while you get your potatoes ready.
Because I wasn’t sure how these would fit into a tiny romaine lettuce leaf, I cut up the sweet potato (skin still on) into teensy cubes.
Toss the cubes into the pan in as close to a single layer as you can get them. Season with salt, pepper, and maybe some smoked paprika or some chili powder, and crisp them up a little. You don’t really have to fully cook them at this point, but give them some crispy edges and appetizing color.
Dump the potatoes into a bowl, and crisp up some sausage. (I figured a potato-only taco was probably not the most balanced meal ever, despite the fact that sausage is probably not the best protein choice ever. If you’re all superhero-like and healthy all the time and shit, go ahead and use some cubed chicken breast or ground turkey instead.) Once they’re nicely charred and crispy on the outside, set them aside with the potatoes.
Next up, sliced onions. Season these with a little bit of whatever you seasoned the potatoes with, along with some salt and pepper, and give them a good char. Once they’re browned up a little, add some sliced bell pepper and jalapeno, then toss the potato + meat mixture right on top.
Give it all a good stir, then add in about a 1/4-cup of water. The water helps get the potatoes where they need to be, plus its the glue that holds the whole mixture together. Keep the pan on medium heat until the water’s almost all gone.
Meanwhile, pull out that handy tub of mayo you smartly made earlier today, and add 2-3 spoonfuls into a bowl. Add the juice of half a lime (or a whole one if your spoonfuls were big and your lime is small) and some of the zest. Also toss in some chopped cilantro, just to give it a cool-looking texture, and mix the mayo all up. If you want a looser, more taco-stand-esque white sauce, add in some water until the consistency feels right to you. This is the closest to sour cream I’ve come in my kitchen in the last several weeks.
Once the water’s all cooked out your potato-meat-veggie mixture, spoon this shit into a piece of lettuce, top with your choice of some avocado, chopped tomato, maybe a little more of that sliced roasted jalapeno, some fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, and a dollop of your lime sauce.
POTATO TACO NIRVANA.
But I still miss Pedro’s.