Tag Archives: Mexican Food

Braised, Shredded Pork from the state of Michoacán, Mexico (Carnitas)

Carnitas (1 of 1)This delicious dish is from the Pacific Coast state of Michoacán, although it is prepared throughout Mexico. It makes a lot of shredded pork, and it is very versatile — the first night you serve it on its own with a few sides, the next night you make tacos with it, etc., and it freezes well. The other day, I added it to a home-made ranchero sauce, and it was fantastic! Original versions seem to be full of fat. They typically call for pork shoulder or (aka Boston butt), which is a fatty part of the pig. I’ve made this a few times with center-cut pork loin, with all visible fat removed. After braising for three hours, it turns out moist, delicious, and it just falls apart like its counterpart does. I also replace the typical ton of lard with a couple tablespoons of olive oil — I realize that this probably changes the flavor and texture, but there is already so much flavor, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, in the photo, I serve it with a simple red cabbage coleslaw, corn sticks and slices of blood orange. Yum. I hope you’ll try this next Sunday!

1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups chicken stock
1 12-oz can cola
2 tsp oregano, toasted in a dry, medium-hot skilled
2 bay leaves, toasted in a dry, medium-hot skillet
8 whole allspice berries
2 2-inch cinnamon sticks
2 chipotle chilies en adobo, minced
2 Tbsp salt, divided
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 – 6 lbs boneless pork loin, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into fist-size chunks
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 small oranges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, chicken stock, cola, oregano, bay leaves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, chipotle chilies, 5 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, and stir well.

Season pork with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.

Bring the onion mixture to a boil. Add pork and oranges, cover so that the lid is ajar and place in oven.  Bake for about 3 hours, until pork is very tender. Remove pork from pan and shred with a couple of forks.

Remove the oranges, slice in half and squeeze juice back into pan. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Add shredded pork back to pan and stir well.

Increase heat to 425, place pork back into oven, uncovered. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and serve.

Serves 8.

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Grilled Pork and Pineapple Tacos

Grilled_Port_and_Pineapple_Tacos1 (1 of 1)There’s nothing better than grilling outdoors when it’s hot, humid and buggy, as it’s been here the past several days. Here’s a great taco recipe for that perfect back yard picnic, featuring marinated, grilled pork and pineapple. For this outdoor recipe, you’ll need to plan a bit ahead, as the pork needs to marinate overnight. It’s well worth it, because the pork turns out very tender and flavorful, and the grilled pineapple adds a nice sweetness. I hope you’ll try it!

1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 dried red chili peppers (such as pasilla), stem and seeds removed
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
4 garlic cloves, very finely shredded or minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 lbs boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
16 6-inch corn tortillas, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
Sour cream (optional)
Lime wedges
Hot pepper sauce (such as chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce)

Place chili peppers in a medium bowl;  cover with boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes, until soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor, add the chili peppers, one of the pineapple slices, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, cumin and cloves. Process until smooth.

Arrange pork slices in a 3-quart baking dish. Spread chili pepper mixture evenly over the pork, ensuring that every slice is completely covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook the meat, prepare the grill. Remove the pork from the marinade (discarding marinade).

Place the pork slices on the grill, cover and cook for 7 minutes (turning once in between).Grilled_Pork_and_Pineapple_Tacos2 (1 of 1) Remove pork and place pineapple slices on the grill. Cover and cook 7 minutes (turning once in between). If there’s room, also place the tortilla packet on the grill (the tortillas cook 7 minutes, as well).

Cut the pork and pineapple into small chunks, then combine in a large bowl. Fill the warm tortillas with the pork/pineapple mixture. Garnish with the green onions, cilantro, diced red bell pepper and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with lime wedges and chili pepper sauce.

Serves 8 to 10.

Grilled Steak and Romaine Salad

Steak_and_Romaine_Salad1 (1 of 1)The perfect dish for grilling outside on the 4th of July, this steak salad is full of flavor from the rub and the spicy chipotle chili dressing. It’s a fresh and satisfying meal for a hot summer evening. The grilled romaine is delicious, and adds an interesting touch. I hope you’ll try it!

1 1/2 – 2 lbs flank steak

Rub
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Dressing
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 canned chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Romaine
3 hearts of romaine, washed and sliced in half length-wise
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Garnish
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, thinly sliced (placed in a small bowl, with the juice of 1 lime squeezed over them)Steak_and_Romaine_Salad2 (1 of 1)
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half length-wise
1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup (4 ounces) queso fresco, crumbled
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Score both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts 1 inch apart. Combine ingredients for rub. Place steak in a shallow baking dish; sprinkle rub evenly over both sides, rubbing in with your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing by heating oil in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, stirring for 30 seconds. Add beef broth, lime juice, chipotle chili pepper, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Prepare grill.

Prepare romaine halves by whisking together the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush each of the romaine halves, front and back, with the olive oil mixture. Set aside.

Grill the steak, covered, for 6 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Cover loosely with foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Thinly slice steak across the grain.

Grill the romaine halves, covered, for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.

Assemble salad by placing 1 romaine half on each of 6 serving plates. Divide steak slices and avocado slices among the plates. Sprinkle each with the tomato halves, cilantro leaves, queso fresco and scallions. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Serves 6.

Grilled Lime Chicken with Mole Sauce and Saffron Rice

Lime_Chicken_Mole3 (1 of 1)This dish features mole (pronounced something like “molay”), which is prepared throughout Mexico, but it is especially popular in the central and southern regions of Puebla and Oaxaca. It is made with a variety of interesting ingredients, such as chile peppers, spices, chocolate, and the list goes on. This version is spicy and delicious, and goes very will with the marinated, grilled lime chicken and the saffron rice. I hope you’ll try it!

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 large), pounded to an even thickness (1/2 inch)
Juice of 3 limes
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or finely grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

2 dried ancho chile peppers
1/2 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 slices day-old bread, torn into pieces
2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed
1/2 diced onions
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Garnish: shredded lettuce, cilantro leaves, sour cream

Prepare the marinade for the chicken by whisking together the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the chicken and marinade in a large, zip-lock plastic bag, mixing well. Let sit (turning from time to time) in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the mole sauce by toasting the ancho chiles in a very hot, dry skillet just until they crackle (about 2 minutes each side). Be sure not to burn them, or they’ll ruin the mole. Place chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 30 minutes to revive them. Drain and discard water. Remove stems and seeds, and coarsely chop. Set aside

Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet. Add onions and garlic, and cook over medium to low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the sunflower seeds, cinnamon, cumin seeds and allspice. Stir for and additional 4 minutes, until mixture is fragrant. Transfer to a food processor.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth, tomato, bread, ancho chiles and chipotle peppers to the spice mixture in the food processor. Process until very smooth.

Transfer mixture to a large sauce pan. Stir in remaining broth, chocolate, sugar, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer uncovered very gently for 30 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.

For the saffron rice, bring broth and water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add the saffron, stir and set aside.

Saute the onions and red bell peppers in 1 Tbsp butter in a medium sauce pan for about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron broth, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff with a fork. Cover and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Prepare grill.

Remove chicken from fridge, and discard marinade. Grill chicken breasts for 9 minutes on one side. Flip, then grill for an additional 4 minutes, or until done. Cut crosswise into 1-inch slices.

Place the chicken over the rice and top with the mole. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream

Serves 6.