Deep into last night, well beyond the hour when any good ideas usually come to fruition, I was chatting with my roommate about where the origin of wrapped foods worldwide might be pinpointed. Naturally the conversation devolved into a tangent of new multicultural foodstuffs that could be created. All of a sudden, between chuckles and stupid jokes, we stumbled upon a moment of pure genius. It was one of those moments where we both stopped dead in our tracks, the needle scratched the record and we knew. We just knew. We had to have this food as soon as humanly possible.
The genius food that we came up with was the pancake taco. We dubbed it the “Paco”. Breakfast and food trend, hand in hand in perfect harmony. Boom. (Keep in mind that I was stone cold sober at the time and still 100% on board with this.)Anyways, this morning it was go time. I was so making the inaugural batch of Pacos.
I personally was excited to try this recipe out because I really don’t “‘get” how my fellow New Yorkers go so apedung over these things. I couldn’t see why people’s favorite foods were tacos, why they had the cache of being edgy, why taco trucks were popping up on street corners from Inwood to Staten Island. They were just tacos after all, not streetside Faberge eggs or the holy grail.
This stems from where I grew up, in addition to being a thriving nuclear town we had a huge farming industry. Of course this meant a large population of migrant farm workers that came with the seasons, most of which cooked both out of necessity and familiarity. When they stayed, eventually they built restaurants with amazing prices and even better quality. “Authentic” tacos were nothing special when I came to New York, as were “authentic” refried beans, “authentic” flautas, “authentic” pozole, “authentic” whatever. Granted, for years you couldn’t get good Mexican to save your life in New York City, but when tacos became hot poop over here I rolled my eyes and said nothing. Perhaps I had forgotten that large swaths of the midwest had been forced to endure endless Old El Paso Mexican Dinner Kits in their formative years, if that.
Whatever. So when we thought of the idea of a breakfast taco using a pancake, I was so up for next leveling my pseudo-Hispanic experience. I attacked my challenge by emulating the original with a multicultural twist. The “tortilla” is a a thin, flexible potato pancake which was basically a hybrid between a Swedish pancake and the American version. The filling, as it was breakfast related, was scrambled eggs (unique to no culture really). I then topped mine with a melange of carmelized onions and red peppers, a smattering of diced ricotta salata, a sprinkle of pepitas, tomatoes, flatleaf parsley, julienned mild peppers and Tapatio. Salty, sweet, crunchy and spicy, the inaugural batch of pacos just about blew my mind.
Of course, you can fill these with whatever you like. They’re quite versatile. I’ll give you the wrapper recipe and you can play with the flavor combinations however you wish. Buenos dias, mis amigos.
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 cup milk
-1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
-1/4 cup potato flakes
-1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
-1 three finger pinch of salt
-1 Tablespoon sugar
-1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
-Butter, and lots of it.
1. Beat the eggs, milk, oil, salt, baking powder and sugar together until incorporated with a whisk in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add in the potato flakes and stir to incorporate. Then add in the flour incrementally (so as not to clump) and beat that as well until everything is smooth.
3. In a large lightweight saute pan, heat a small pat of butter over medium low heat until it melts. Swirl the fat in the pan so the entire bottom is coated.
4. Pour a scant quarter cup of batter into the hot pan. Then (literally) lift up the pan and tilt it so that the batter spreads as far as possible. (It should be 6-8″ in diameter.) Set it back down and wait for bubbles to appear .
5. Flip the pancake onto the other side. Let it cook for a minute or so, then lightly poke the center. If it springs back, it is finished.
6. Without buttering the pan again (it should still be greased), repeat steps 4 and 5. Melt more butter on every other pancake.
7. Keep warm until ready to fill and eat. These store very well once cooled if wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated.