Today’s sandwich is the “Chorizo y Papas Grilled Cheese.” It combines ground chorizo, sauteed onions, habanero cheddar and American cheeses, and crispy Tater Tots on sliced white bread.
Notes: Poke your head through the kitchen window of nearly any household in Mexico around breakfast time, and you’re likely to find a family with a skillet full of bright red, ground fresh chorizo sizzling away, mixed with diced potatoes, and sometimes a few scrambled eggs. Folded into fresh corn tortillas and served with a side of beans, it’s as common a breakfast staple in that country as, say, bacon and hash browns are in the United States.
It’s a filling, comforting breakfast that I haven’t gotten to enjoy in a while, due to the mysterious dearth of fresh Mexican chorizo in Midcoast Maine. Because I can’t find it in the big local supermarkets, I’ll go to great measures to score the good stuff. I’ll make it myself. I’ll drive all the way to the Wal-Mart in South Portland, which often seems to inexplicably carry big plastic tubes finely ground, brightly spiced fresh Mexican chorizo. I’ll even order it on the Internet. And when I do find a place to buy it, I get as much as I can reasonably fit in the freezer.
I cracked a fresh package this morning. Actually, it was that weird in-between hour, where you’ve already skipped breakfast, but it still feels to early to dive into lunch. I guess that doesn’t matter. The point is, I was leaning toward a sandwich. So, rather than prepare my chorizo y papas the traditional way, I decided to adapt the concept into grilled cheese form, adding in crisped Tater Tots for some extra texture.
It was one of those moments where you feel like you’re going to break the Internet.
The resulting sandwich delivers on every conceivable level. It delivers acres of spicy ground chorizo directly into your stomach on a wave of melted cheese. I used a combination of habanero cheddar for spice as well as processed American, for texture and melt. If habaneros bring too much spice to the sandwich for your tastes, feel free to substitute pepper Jack. You can use sliced leftover baked potatoes if mass-produced frozen tater smithereens aren’t your thing, but I strongly suggest trying them, with your head held high. And if you like things really spicy, you can even throw in a few pickled sliced jalapenos. Go ahead. This sandwich is already ridiculous, and it will shorten your life by at least a few hours. You might as well enjoy yourself.
Chorizo y Papas Grilled Cheese
Makes two sandwiches
- 4 slices good white bread
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup ground Mexican chorizo
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 6 slices habanero cheddar or pepper Jack cheese
- 6 slices American cheese
- Handful of Tater Tots (about 12), cooked according to package directions
- Sliced pickled jalapenos (optional)
- Sour cream (to serve)
Combine Mexican chorizo and sliced onion in a medium skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until chorizo is cooked through and onions are soft, stirring often, about ten minutes. Transfer mixture to a plate lined with paper towels, and allow to drain.
For each sandwich: Layer bottom slice of bread with half of habanero cheddar or pepper Jack. Top with half of chorizo and onion mixture, then half of the cooked Tater Tots, then half of the American cheese and optional pickled jalapenos. Finish with half of the American cheese, and top with the other slice of bread.
Butter outsides of each side of sandwich, about a tablespoon of butter per piece of bread. Place sandwich in a nonstick skillet and cook covered over low heat, flipping as needed, until cheese is melted and bread is brown and crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream.