Healthy taco fries exist and this is how you can make them at home
"I’d hate to admit to the quantity of taco fries I consumed during my undergrad years." says Finn Ní Fhaoláin.
"Though I do remember one wonderful night out, one of those ones when you know you’ve got the right sort of friends, where myself and my friend G looked at each other in the middle of a nightclub, simultaneously said, ‘I’m so hungry’ and promptly left to go get taco fries.
We returned 20 minutes later, with no one having noticed our absence. And, yes, we did go again later with the rest of the gang.
A few summers ago, living in my awesome little surf town of Bundoran on the west coast, I realised it was high time to get a healthier version going – something that would fit better with the up early and surf all day vibe. So here she is revamped and rebooted, a great source of lean protein, healthy carbs and a good spicy kick!
Serves five folk pretending they’re still party animals or four ravenous people post-surf.
4 large Rooster potatoes or 2 sweet potatoes, washed, skins on
olive oil, for frying and roasting
1 red onion
1 large carrot
500g lean organic mince
½ packet (15g) taco seasoning or 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp sweet paprika, ½ tsp oregano, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g tinned red kidney beans
½ tin (200g) refried beans – optional, just to give a smoother texture
6 tbsp free-range mayonnaise
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 big handful grated cheese – I like mature white cheddar here
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut your potatoes into wedge shapes. I do this by cutting them in half lengthways and the laying the flat side down on the chopping board and cutting into it at an angle. Depending on the size, you should get 6–8 wedges per potato. Put the wedges in a big bowl, pour over about a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and shake ’em all around. Feel free to do a little dance at the same time. I like to listen to the Desperado soundtrack when I’m cooking anything even vaguely Mexican. Slide the wedges out onto a tray and pop them in the oven. Reduce the heat to 180°C. While those bad boys are cooking away it’s time to make the chilli!
Chop your onion up nice and fine. Wash and scrub your carrots and cut them up as teeny tiny as you can. We are just trying to sneak veggies and a bit of sweetness into the recipe – we don’t want the carrot to be a big deal! Drain and rinse your red kidney beans and open your refried beans tin if you’re using them.
Put a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. When it’s nice and hot pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil. If you’re one of those folks who has trepidations about using olive oil, you can of course use a flavourless coconut oil instead. Pop in your onions and carrots and sauté till they are soft. Take them out and put them to one side.
Next add a little more oil and then the mince. Fry until it browns. If it’s one of those sneaky packets where they chucked a load of water in, I pour that off – no one wants soggy chips. Add the taco seasoning or your own mix and fry for 3–4 more minutes.
Add your tomato purée and beans, turn the heat way down low and let it simmer.
Check on your wedges and give them a turn so they get golden all over.
Make up the garlic mayo in a little bowl by mixing the mayo, garlic powder and oregano together. You can of course use fresh crushed garlic – I just prefer the powder.
Take your wedges out of the oven and take the chilli off the heat.
In a big bowl – go on, a big one – layer up with wedges, chilli and garlic mayo and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. If you want a little extra spice in your life I sometimes add Tabasco sauce, Frank’s hot sauce or pickled jalapenos.
Finn Ní Fhaoláin’s food journey began when she was diagnosed as a coeliac and became determined to recreate all her favourite dishes - this time without gluten. She lives, surfs and cooks in Bundoran on Ireland’s northwest coast. Her brand new book, Finn's World is packed with incredible recipes such as Danish Breakfast Brød, Mother Hubbard’s Bare Cupboard Granola, Moroccan Surfer’s Breakfast and Disco Barbie Beetroot Soup.