Potatoes Are The Perfect Meat-Free Solution For Heartier Gorditas

Many of Mexico's most iconic dishes wrap, top, or stuff rich proteins or vegetables into a shell of nixtamalized corn masa, a culinary tradition that dates back to pre-Hispanic civilizations. Enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas use corn tortillas, but traditional stuffed gorditas create denser, richer corn masa pockets. "Gordita" is an endearing term for chubby or fat, and these round, thick corn masa pockets fried on a griddle and stuffed to the brim are a wildly popular street food that lives up to their name.

Similar to tortas and tacos, you have your choice of fillings or "guisados" to stuff inside gorditas. Typically, gorditas are stuffed with chicharron, chorizo, shredded chicken, or beef. However, potatoes make the perfect vegan and vegetarian-friendly gordita stuffing with the same comforting heartiness. Potatoes are also a New World crop and a popular addition to other Mexican dishes like tacos dorados. They're earthy and dense and easily absorb the same seasonings, spices, and aromatics used to flavor meat fillings.

Furthermore, potatoes come in countless varieties, each with distinct flavors and textures, which gives you more freedom to season, prepare, and pair them with additional stuffing ingredients. They'll supply a comparable heft to meaty fillings and an earthy balance to the distinct savoriness of the corn masa.

Potato fillings: seasonings and pairings

Because potato fillings will be neatly packed into a thick corn masa pocket, you can use them in any form, whether they're cubed and sauteed, a pillowy mash, or even a shredded hash. The type of potato you use depends on the type of cooking method you use. If you want sauteed, diced, or cubed potatoes, a waxy potato like Yukon gold will hold its shape well. For a fluffy mashed filling, russets, Idahos, or even sweet potatoes would all be great options.

Seasonings like cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic, and onions would endow your filling with much-needed spice and zest. You could also use a packet of taco seasoning if you don't have all the individual spices on hand. If you're using a mashed filling, stir taco seasoning into a dollop of sour cream and mix it into the mash. Shredded cheese would also melt wonderfully into a mashed filling and act as a binding agent.

If you saute your potato filling, you can throw in extra veggies like spinach, swiss chard, mushrooms, and diced peppers. You could even fry the potatoes with tomatoes and nopales as an ode to Mexican crops.

Traditional gordita pockets are made with corn masa and pork lard. So, if you want a completely meat-free gordita, you'll also need to substitute lard in the masa for vegetable shortening or oil.