Archive for the ‘Mexican/ Tex-Mex’ Category

Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited

A friend asked for this recipe, so I’m reposting it with a couple of changes I’ve made since I first posted it in 2010. I like to serve this with roasted red pepper and cheese quesadillas.

It takes a long time to chop up all the ingredients, so sometimes I chop them in the evening while watching TV and then make the stew a day or two later. The original recipe called for dicing the pork into bite-sized pieces; that’s really tedious, especially with a bone-in roast, so I found an easier method.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited

4 pounds bone-in pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 3-4 large pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked, cored and chopped
4 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
8 cups chicken stock
2 cans yellow or white hominy, undrained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

My Favorite Garnishes
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 avocadoes, cut into slices
Fried tortilla strips

Traditional Garnishes
1/4 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a large (at least 5.5 quarts) heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle one side of the pork pieces with salt and pepper and add, seasoned side down, to the pot. Brown pork on both sides, making sure to get them nice and golden brown. Season the second side, turn browned side up, and continue browning. Don’t crowd the pot or the meat will steam, not brown. You may need to do this in batches. When done, remove pork to a medium bowl and set aside.

Add the onions and a large pinch of salt to the pot. Saute for about five minutes, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and oregano and continue to cook for another few minutes to soften the vegetables.

Add the reserved pork, any accumulated pork juices and chicken stock to the pot. Cover it, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, turn the heat to low and simmer until the pork is tender and starting to fall apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the hominy for the last half hour.

Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the pork from the pot and place it in a medium bowl. Use two forks to pull the meat into large shreds. Return the pork to the pot and simmer for five minutes to reheat the meat.

Stir in the cilantro and taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the garnishes.

Four jalapenos will make this stew a bit spicy. Most of the heat is in the ribs and seeds of the peppers. For our taste, I remove half the ribs and seeds; feel free to adjust to your heat tolerance.

Mexican oregano is a little different from Italian or Greek oregano and worth seeking out for this recipe. It’s available in Mexican grocery stores, including La Familia Market in Chesapeake.

This stew takes some time to prepare, but the rich broth, pleasant heat and zing from the lime juice combine with the yummy combination of vegetables to make it all worthwhile. It freezes well, or you can invite a group of friends over to share.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited
Pork & Tomatillo Posole

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Food-writing class: Recipe writing

For the food-writing class I’m taking at the Muse, we have an assignment to take a badly written recipe and rewrite it in proper format with good directions. Patrick gave us several to choose from and we practiced in class.

This selection sounds like it would make a good casserole for a potluck, and since this is the season … enjoy.

Garden veggies from our 2008 garden
From our 2008 garden: ingredients that could be used in this dish

Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

A meatless meal with lots of zip. Good for vegetarians and those on a budget.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
4 ounces jalapenos, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (or, if in season, 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
3/4 cup salsa
2 15-ounce cans black kidney beans
12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (divided use)

2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 cups lettuce, shredded
3 green onions, sliced
1/8 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, jalapenos, garlic and cumin. Saute for five minutes. Stir in undrained tomatoes and salsa. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in beans.

Spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over the bottom of a 13”x9”x2” baking dish. Top with half of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary, and half of the cheese. Add another 1/3 of the bean mixture, the remaining tortillas, and the rest of the bean mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until heated through.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand 10 minutes. Top with tomato slices, lettuce, green onion and olives. Cut into squares and serve with sour cream.

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Restaurant Review: Tortilla West

Tortilla West, at the end of Orapax Street near Lambert Point Docks in Norfolk, is not easy to find the first time you go, but it’s really easy to go back to again and again.The style is Mexican flavors with a modern twist using fresh local ingredients and for the most part, they do it very well.

I visited Tortilla West on a recent Sunday for lunch with Patrick Evans-Hylton and members of the food writing class we’re taking at The Muse in Norfolk. We ordered a variety of dishes to share tapas-style.

We started off with drinks. My companions went for the Bloody Mary bar, but as I’m not an aficionado, I ordered the house margarita on the rocks with salt. It always has the perfect balance of tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur, and a crunchy rim of kosher salt.

The most memorable dish for me was the fried oysters with a creamy dipping sauce. The plump, juicy Chinoteague oysters were coated with a crackling cornmeal crust that broke apart with the first bite, releasing the sweet meat. The creamy, slightly spicy sauce was the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy coating. I used to think I didn’t like oysters – they’ve made a convert of me.

Tortilla West dishes

More disappointing was the Mexican pulled pork sandwich, served on ciabatta rolls with tomatillo dipping sauce. While the pork was fork-tender, the sauce was overly salty, which really detracted from the flavor. The Mexican-influenced macaroni & cheese, however, made up for it. It was delivered nice and hot, with curvy cavatelli pasta soaking up the flavor of a perfectly melted, beautifully balanced spicy-creamy cheese sauce flecked with bits of jalapeno.

Pulled Mexican pork with tomatillo dipping sauce

I’ve been to Tortilla West many times since they opened several years ago, and I don’t believe I’ve ever not liked a dish, until this pork. So I’m sure I’ll be back – the food is generally outstanding, the prices are reasonable and the service is fast and friendly.

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A Mexican Feast

Last week, Dan and I prepared a Mexican feast for 26 teachers during the annual capstone event for the graduate professional development class he teaches along with colleagues Dan B. and Richard.

I was so busy making sure everything was done and we hadn’t forgotten anything that I forgot to take pictures of everything when we were done with each dish. But here are a few to accompany the recipes we used.

Appetizers, all by Rick Bayless, served with toasted sliced baguette and tortilla chips

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa Prep
Prep for Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Dinner

Ingredients for mole sauce
Mole ingredients

Corn tamales with chicken or cheese
Corn tamales stuffed with chicken (left) or cheese right)

Dessert was a trifle layered with cubed angel-food cake, lemon pudding and fresh strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. I tried making a tres leches cake for this, but it was flat and heavy, so I went with store-bought angel food.

Lessons Learned

  • When making tamales, test the batter by checking to see whether a handful sticks to itself; if not, it’s too wet, so add a bit more corn flour
  • I need a Kitchen Aid mixer if I’m going to try a tres leches cake; I didn’t fluff up the butter enough, so the cake was short and heavy rather than tall and light
  • When I’m cooking for a crowd, delegate the camera work to someone else!
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Slow-Cooker Carnitas by Eric

Grow Your OwnDad is here for Christmas and brought with him my cousin’s (Margaret) husband’s (Eric) slow-cooker recipe for pork carnitas, or pork cooked in its own fat. They can be served on their own or as a filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc.

The Orange Crush is an unusual ingredient, but the carnitas did taste quite good. And it may seem like a lot of jalapenos, but we thought it had a pleasant but not searing heat.

Dan and Dad had the carnitas with rice and beans, but I made soft tacos with mine. One of the toppings is homemade pickled onions – yummy!

And have a very Merry Christmas!

Slow-Cooker Carnitas by Eric

5 lbs. pork shoulder roast
1 large red onion, trimmed, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and cut in quarters; you may remove seeds and membranes for less heat
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed a bit with the side of a chef’s knife
12 oz. Orange Crush
toppings of choice: lettuce, tomato, cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, pickled onions, hot sauce
Optional: rice and beans; flour tortillas

Trim excess fat from pork shoulder and place in the slow cooker. Place the red onion, jalapenos, garlic and 8 oz. Orange Crush in a blender and puree. Pour contents over the roast, then pour the rest of the Orange Crush into the slow cooker. Turn heat to low and cook for 10-12 hours. Shred with two forks.

Serve with rice and beans, or as a filling for tacos.

Tacos with Pork Carnitas

We grew the jalapenos in our garden last summer, and had a bumper crop yet again. Even after sharing with some co-workers who like hot food, we had plenty to freeze. Just put them on a baking sheet, so they don’t stick together in a clump, and place in the freezer till frozen solid. Transfer to plastic bags. When you’re ready to use one or more, leave them on the counter for 1/2 hour or so to thaw, or put them on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 30-45 seconds.

This is my entry in the food blogging event Grow Your Own, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

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Pork & Tomatillo Posole

The first time I had posole, a Mexican pork stew, was at my friend Liz’s house a few years ago. She and Walter are from Colorado and served this after an art gallery opening of Walter’s, and some of Liz’s, artwork. I could not stop eating it.

It’s time-consuming to make, so I usually start cutting things up a day or two before, to make it easier to get started with the cooking. Once everything is together in the pot, it simmers for a couple of hours and makes the house smell really good :-) The pork becomes buttery soft and the broth is full of flavor. Delicious. I like to serve it with cheese and roasted red pepper quesadillas, for a little crunch, and of course, margaritas.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole

4 pounds pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into bite sized pieces
Coarse alt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked, cored and chopped
4 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon, dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
8 cups chicken stock
2 cans hominy
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Garnishes (posole is traditionally served with these garnishes; I just serve with some lime wedges)
1/4 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add about 1/3 of the pork in an even layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown pork on both sides, making sure to get them nice and golden. Remove the browned pork to a medium bowl, then add another 1/3 of the pork, season and continue till all the pork is browned and in the bowl.

Add the onions and a large pinch of salt to the pot. Saute for about five minutes, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and oregano and continue to cook for another few minutes to soften the vegetables.

Add the reserved pork, pork juices and chicken stock to the pot. Cover it, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, turn the heat to low and simmer until the pork is tender and starting to fall apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the hominy for the last half hour.

Stir in the cilantro and taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the garnishes.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole

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