The Art of the Deconstructed Taco


My affinity remains strong for the taco – be it in the form of breakfast, meat, vegetarian, or seafood. Dare I say, I have never come across a taco I didn’t like. And in an effort to stick to my ‘Food Years Resolutions’ and reduce meat in my diet, these avocado tacos showed up at the perfect moment in time.

This crowned jewel of a recipe stems from a NY Times offering profiling Enrique Olvera and his restaurant Cosme, based in New York. Cosme opened in 2014 in NYC’s Flatiron District and boasts a vibrant menu consisting of contemporary Mexican fare in the form of shared plates. I couldn’t agree more with Enrique when he states that these avocado tacos serve as both “a comfort” and “a cultural expression.” Coupled with a class and simplicity all their own, these avocado tacos do the taco family justice — and then some.

My favorite aspect of taco-crafting is that there is always room for creativity and workability. Creativity in that you can substitute meat for seafood or beans for seafood (or eggs for breakfast tacos), pickle a variety of vegetables, concoct any sort of sauce or aioli, and garnish with a number of herbs and spices. For me as it pertains to Mexican cooking, cheese becomes an afterthought and takes a backseat to the aforementioned ingredients (unless there is Oaxaca or Cotija cheese in the general vicinity). Workability plays a role in fusing all of these ingredients together, with a sturdy corn or flour tortilla.

The homemade salsa (consisting of dried pasilla chiles, sea salt, garlic, and boiled tomatillos), coupled with the creamy avocado levitates these tacos, giving way to so many delicious variations. We had leftover salsa for weeks and incorporated it onto our breakfast tacos, avocado toast, and weeknight salads. Make sure the avocado is perfectly ripe and that the tortilla is crisped to your liking. I found that deconstructing (mise en place to some) my taco and laying out all the ingredients beforehand gave way to a better, more cohesive taco.

¡Buen provecho!

Avocado Tacos
Makes 12 tacos

4 pasilla chiles
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 garlic cloves
10 tomatillos, boiled in salted water for 15 minutes or until soft
3 avocados, sliced thin
12 corn tortillas
¾ cup white onion, finely diced
½ cup chopped cilantro
Other additives: pickled onion, sautéed bell peppers, Oaxaca/Cotija cheese

Make the salsa: Snap the stems off the chiles and remove the seeds. Using tongs, carefully hold the chiles over a medium flame to char on all sides. Transfer chiles to a food processor, add the salt and process into a powder. Add the garlic and tomatillos and purée until smooth. (This makes 1 pint salsa, more than needed; refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

To serve, place 3 or 4 slices of avocado on each tortilla and top with salsa, onion and cilantro.

Recipe adapted from the NYTimes’ avocado taco recipe, inspired by Enrique Olvera (Cosme restaurant, NYC).


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