The Story of Tlaycoyos
Tlaycoyo, from an Nahuatl Indian word, is a central Mexican street food consisting of an oblong slab of masa dough that has been stuffed with a layer of crushed beans and cooked on a comal - a flat or sometimes slightly concave griddle.
The tlaycoyo is usually eaten plain or with salsa spread on top, but the flatbread has lately been pressed into service by New York taco vendors to serve as a base for other ingredients, not unlike a huarache, only smaller and thicker.
In this capacity, you can find it topped with morsels of meat like calf tongue, pig ear, pork carnitas, carne enchilada, al pastor, shredded chicken, etc., etc. You might call it a southern Mexican pizza, though it's not to be confused with a Oaxacan tlayuda, which is even more like a Mexican pizza.
At Patty's Taco Truck (also sometimes spelled "Paty's") on the southwest corner of Union Square, I chose carnitas (fried pork tidbits) on the promise of them being spicy, and they were. My tlaycoyo was further lushly heaped with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, queso seco, crema, and cilantro. Patty's also sells other antojitos hand-formed from masa, including huaraches, sopes, and quesadillas, and a full selection of Jarritos soft drinks.
Here is what Diana Kennedy had to say in My Mexico about the tlaycoyos she found in the rural market of Santiago Tianguistenco, in the state of Mexico not far from Toluca:
"My favorite of all the market's foods are the tlaycoyos. Dotted throughout the streets you will see women fashioning the intensely blue corn masa (dough) into fat oval cakes filled with the deep-yellow mashed dried beans. They are then baked on a comal until the dough is firm and flecked with brown. Some are then lightly fried in lard. I noticed a few women who were departing from tradition and adding crumbled chicharron and ricotta to the filling (it makes me hungry to write about them). It makes you want to forget forever those boring boneless, skinless chicken breast fad diets."
Next: Video of how to make tlaycoyos courtesy of dothemexican.com.