Posts tagged ‘Mexican Food’

May 9, 2012

Smoky Pulled Pork Tacos & Slaw

I lived in Georgia for a few years, back in the mid-90’s. Transferred for work, we packed up all our things and made the long drive down to start what I call, the Southern era of my life. Very different from life in the north, life in Georgia lacked good pizza, the Chinese food was terrible and bagels were a mere shadow of the ones we were used to. Maybe things have changed since then. Yes, I actually do analyze the many ups and downs in my life by the food that I’ve experienced. Dysfunctional? Maybe. But I like to think that the mental diary of meals I keep, stored next to the 80’s song lyrics in my brain, will one day be worth something.

I have many fond food memories from down south. I can recall dinner at this hole-in-the-wall joint known for the best fried chicken and catfish in Georgia. I swore there was a creek that ran through the back of the restaurant, with some guy catching the catfish, only to have them hit the deep-fry seconds after being caught. This was the real deal, and so good.

In Georgia, I ate my first hush puppy, had my first bowl of Brunswick Stew, enjoyed a real buttered biscuit with the grease proudly dripping down my sleeves and fell in love with BBQ. I have never tried smoking meats and my BBQ abilities are limited to my backyard Weber grill. I can’t put a finger on what inspired me to make this pulled pork, but it’s always been one of my favorites (see My Infatuation with the Pig). After a little research, I came up with this recipe. No smoker required. It took under 3 hours and we ate it Mexican style, in warm corn tortillas. For my next trick, I will make this again with Southern BBQ flavors. For now, I consider this a successful mission accomplished. Perfect for a crowd, this makes a lot of pulled pork. I’ll guess it makes tacos for 8, possibly more.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PULLED PORK

  • 5lb boneless pork shoulder cut into big 3″ hunks
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt
  • Generous amount of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 – 15oz can chicken stock
  • 1 – 15oz tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of good beer
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (use more if you want it really spicy)
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotles)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 large navel orange
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the oregano, chili powder, chipotle powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Season the pork all over with the rub.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a little canola oil to the bottom of the pan. Add the pork pieces, working in batches and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Saute the onion till translucent, add the garlic and stir for one minute until fragrant. Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, beer, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, honey, bay leaves, orange and lime juice, scrapping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a hard simmer and add the pork back to the pan. Spoon the sauce over all the meat. Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

After the pork is done, remove the pot from the oven and take the meat out, placing it in a large bowl. Put the pot on the stove on medium-low heat. Simmer the sauce until it reduces slightly. While the sauce is cooking, using 2 forks, shred the pork. Add the pork back to the pot with the sauce and stir together so all the meat is coated.

Serve with warm corn tortillas, cilantro slaw and a squeeze of fresh lime. Leftovers can be served on soft rolls as pulled pork sandwiches too.

Tender pulled pork in 2hrs is a dream. Cooking the meat in large pieces, rather than a whole roast, really quickens the roasting time. I know that true BBQ enthusiasts would poo-poo this recipe, but the reality is most of us don’t have the time to slow roast anything for the hours they suggest. This is a very respectable cheat. 

INGREDIENTS FOR CILANTRO SLAW

Adapted from The Neelys

  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 16oz package pre-shredded cabbage (it usually says cole slaw mix)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Couple of handfuls shredded carrots (I buy the pre-shredded carrots in a small bag)
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Combine the vinegar, lime juice, canola oil and sugar in a bowl and whisk together. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the pulled pork tacos. I think this is best when you let it sit for a while before serving. Make it when the pork goes into the oven and then place it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.

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April 2, 2012

NO KITCHEN REQUIRED

We just had a fabulous weekend in Brooklyn. I consider myself a Manhattan regular, but this weekend in Brooklyn was a first for me. Our main mission was attending a launch dinner Saturday night for a new cooking show on BBC America called No Kitchen Required. The Mexican themed dinner party was hosted by the talented chef/proprietors of NY Bite Club, Alicia and Daniel. This members only dining club served up a 5 star menu for their 30 or so guests, with perfectly paired cocktails by Joaquin from NYC’s Death & Co. The eclectic group of guests – food bloggers, photographers, press and BBC folks, were given a feast of delicacies and a sneak peek at the show. Chef contestant, Chef Kayne Raymond (you may have seen him on Chopped) and the show’s host Dr. Shini Somara, were there to meet everyone and share their inside scoop on the show. Be sure to catch the first episode airing tonight at 10pm on BBC America. It looks very exciting!

I made a terrible decision to not schlep my good camera into the city for the weekend… alas, my photos from the evening are such a bummer. I was lucky enough to meet photographer Alice Gao. Her photographs can be found on Serious Eats as well as her own blog, Lingered Upon. Check out her pics of the food from the Bite Club event – she’s so talented! Brenna Cammeron from the Huffington Post also provides a gallery of photos from Alice and a great run down of the evening.

Given the underground nature of NY Bite Club, we arrived at the secret location, under the cloak of darkness, taking an oath of silence never to reveal the identity of the Bite Club chefs. It’s kind of like being the James Bond of the foodie world. We certainly felt like we were part of something special. Guacomole, Frijoles Refritos and Nachos were on the table to get us started. The main courses included Pozole con Puerco, a hominy soup served with a jalapeño filled spoon for swirling and a Huitacoche Quesidilla, my favorite of the night. The Pipian de Pollo, Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce was fall-off-the-bone tender and the Chivo Enchilado, roasted baby goat… well, that was my only challenge. Even with a tequila chaser I couldn’t bring myself to slug back the goat innards soup. Does that make me less of a foodie? I hope Alicia and Daniel can forgive me. I made up for it by scarfing down their creamy flan in two bites. Served with a delicious Horchata Shot and an Oaxaca Old Fashioned, it was the perfect way to end this culinary adventure.

Alicia from Bite Club was happy to share her recipe for Frijoles Refritos. This addictive bean dip got much of my attention at our table. It has a great spicy kick, right up my alley.

NY BITE CLUB FRIJOLES REFRITOS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry black beans, cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 – 4 avocado leaves (optional)
  • 9 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large white onion, sliced super thin
  • 3 tablespoons pork lard (or corn oil but pork lard is much better)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed chili pepper flakes

Place the halved onion, rinsed beans, jalapeño, garlic, salt and avocado leaves into a slow cooker. Pour in the stock and stir to combine. Cook on high for 8 hours, adding more stock as needed.

When beans are finished, slice the white onion very thin. Place the skinny onion rings in a skillet with some lard and sauté until they’re really soft and limp. If you don’t have real lard, use some corn oil – but do TRY to find lard.

Add the cooked beans and their liquor to the pan with the onion in stages. Allow them to come to a simmer if they’ve been chilled. Take a potato/bean masher and run it along the pan, mashing beans and onion together to make somewhat of a paste. Keep doing this until all the beans are mostly mashed and the onions have disappeared. When you run the masher and it leaves a trail where you can see the bottom of the pan, you’re done. Add the crushed chili pepper flakes and salt to taste. 

Serve with chips and enjoy!

I walked away from this incredible evening learning two important lessons. First, when in doubt always travel with my good camera. Lesson two, and more importantly, I can still hold my tequila after all these years! Many thanks to BBC America and to Alicia and Daniel at NY Bite Club for a fantastic evening. Best of luck to the No Kitchen Required team. Be sure to catch the first episode tonight on BBC America at 10pm.

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