Dave lived in New Jersey for half a year while I was finishing up graduate school three hours away in upstate New York. We took turns visiting each other on the weekends, but the weekends in NJ were undoubtedly more fun, because we always took the train into Manhattan. I love Manhattan.
Just about every meal I’ve eaten in Manhattan has been exceptional, but one of my favorites was at Calle Ocho. We went for brunch and ordered the gallitos. I love tacos any time of the day. Dave and I don’t live as close to Manhattan anymore, so I can’t just go order gallitos whenever I want. But it took me two years to realize that there was nothing stopping me from making them myself.
I don’t remember the meal exactly, but the menu description helps – “Platter of Traditional Costa Rican Tacos, Scrambled Eggs, Chorizo, Calle Ocho Fries.” I could have sworn there was squash too, and pico de gallo just makes sense.
I will admit that this recipe is a bit of a project, and not much of it can be prepared in advance. I think it would be great for guests arriving late morning for brunch. Everyone can build their own tacos, which would be fun, and I imagine it’s not something many people have had before. Of course you should serve it with mimosas, as is fitting for any brunch, and which also accompanied my gallitos at Calle Ocho. You can never go wrong serving champagne with breakfast.
The only problem I’ve had with the recipe is figuring out what to do with the tortillas. I feel like corn tortillas is more appropriate than flour, and they’re also a little lighter. However, they tend to crack instead of bend, even after being warmed and wrapped in foil. I’m not willing to fry them individually for breakfast. Unless someone has a better recommendation, I’m thinking I’ll start using flour tortillas instead. I did recently see a brand of corn tortillas that looked more flexible, so I’ll try those as well.
The gallitos are pretty great. There’s so many flavors working together – the sweet squash, salty potatoes, spicy chorizo, and fresh pico de gallo are wonderful. For me, this is definitely worth the effort involved.
Serves 4 to 6
To save time, you can cook the potatoes and squash together.
2½ tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
12 ounces (about 2 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into ¼-inch cubes
16 small flour or corn tortillas
16 ounces (1 medium) butternut squash, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
½ teaspoon sugar
12 ounces chorizo, diced into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons milk
Pico de gallo (recipe follows)
1. Heat oven to 200F. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in warm oven.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and ¾ teaspoon salt and stir until the potatoes are coated with oil. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. (If potatoes aren’t beginning to brown after 12 minutes, remove lid.) Pour potatoes into heatproof serving bowl and place in warm oven.
3. Meanwhile, in small nonstick skillet, cook chorizo over medium heat until evenly browned. Place chorizo in heatproof serving bowl and place in warm oven. Wipe pan with paper towels.
4. In now empty large nonstick pan (no need to clean or wipe), heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add squash, ½ teaspoon salt, and sugar and sauté, uncovered, until browned and tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat remaining ½ tablespoon oil in small nonstick pan over medium heat. Crack eggs into a medium bowl. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, pinch black pepper, and milk. Whisk until evenly combined. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently lift and stir the eggs until they form large, mostly dry curds. Pour eggs into serving bowl.
6. Serve tortillas, potatoes, squash, chorizo, eggs and pico de gallo separately, allowing each person to build their tacos as they please.
Pico de gallo: (adapted from the Pioneer Woman)
4 roma tomatoes, diced fine
1 small red onion, diced fine
1-2 jalapenos, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
juice of half a lime
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients.