Maybe its the simplicity of the food—I do seem short on time these days—and those staff meals were always last minute affairs, prepared by whoever had enough time between filling straggling lunch orders and prepping for dinner rush.
Everyone had their specialty, the one thing they always made. I was always pasta, Oaxaca was always Chilaquiles, Antonio hamburgers, and Alejandro chard tacos.
Alejandro was stealth in his cooking. You’d be working, thinking about how starving you were and the next thing you knew he’d be handing you a plate of warm tacos. Sometimes he would beef them up with mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, or potato, but often they were simply braised swiss chard with lots of chile flakes and a generous sprinkling of queso fresco on top to cool the heat. He would slowly braise the rainbow-stemed greens with sweet onions and garlic while warming the corn tortillas over the wood-fired grill. We would eat them as quickly as possible, juice running down our arms into our chef coats.
There was something incredibly satisfying about those ten minutes of the day when we were all silent, hovering over our tacos, thinking our own thoughts. Inevitably one person would finish, toss their plate in the dish pile and it was back to work.
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 pounds new potatoes, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bunch chard, thoroughly washed and dried, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, or more if desired
- 8-12 warm corn tortillas
- sour cream or queso fresco and pico de gallo, for serving
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent.
- Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add chard a little at a time. It will shrink as it cooks, keep stirring and adding handfuls of chard. Once chard is tender, about 3 minutes, add chile flakes and season with salt and pepper.
- Fill warm tortillas with potato-chard mixture, top with a bit of sour cream or a crumbling of queso fresco and some pico de gallo.