They are meals with real family appeal. Finger lickin’ good, fill-your-own fun south of the border style.
Flour tortillas are the bread of Mexico and are perfect for wrapping around fillings. If they tend to stick together, pop them in the microwave on high power for 20-30 seconds and they can be peeled apart. Tacos are corn tortillas that have been bent in half and fried until crisp.
Pork carnitas are popular street food in Mexico where the pork is submerged in lard and slow-cooked to juicy tenderness. However, most Kiwis don’t have a saucepan of lard on hand, so I used a slow cooker for my recipe. The cooked pork is shredded then pan-fried with some of the cooking liquid until a little crispy but still tender. It’s usually served in flour tortillas but is also great in sliders or on rice.
Chipotle powder (pronounced ch-poht-lee) is now readily available in New Zealand supermarkets. It is prepared by smoking jalapeno chillies, which are then crushed to a rich, earthy, smoky powder. It is milder than many chilli powders but provides great depth to dishes. It can be added to soups, pasta sauces, mayo and casseroles as well as sprinkled on omelettes and smashed avo on toast.
The pulled pork (before crisping) can be frozen in meal-lot servings. Divide the juice and place in ziplock bags to freeze with each serving.
2kg pork shoulder or leg, bone in
1 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 onion, diced
1-2 green chillies, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Pat the pork dry. Remove the skin but leave the fat on. Combine the salt, pepper, oregano and cumin. Rub the mixture all over the pork.
Place in a slow cooker fat-side up. Top with the onion, chillies, crushed garlic and orange juice. Cook on high for 5-6 hours. The pork should be tender enough to shred.
Remove from the slow cooker and cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred the pork finely. Skim off the fat from the juices in the slow cooker and discard. You should have about two cups of juice. (After cooking, the pork can be cooled and refrigerated overnight. The fat is more easily removed.)
To serve, heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Spread some of the shredded pork in the pan — don't crowd. Cook on medium for 1 minute then add some of the juices. Cook until crispy on one side then turn to sear the other side until crisp. The pork should still be tender. Repeat until all the pork is cooked.
Serve in warm soft tortillas. Great top with shredded lettuce, diced avocado or guacamole, sliced tomatoes, diced chilli, grated cheese and/or salsa. Serves 6-8.
About 1 1/2 cups lightly crushed corn chips produce a 1/2 cup of finely crushed.
1kg lean minced beef
1/2 cup crushed corn chips
1 teaspoon each: ground chipotle, ground cumin, smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander or parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
Sauce: 2 x 410g cans tomato purée
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1 small onion, diced
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Combine the meat, crushed corn chips, seasonings, garlic, herbs and egg. Roll into balls a little larger than a golf ball. Place in a medium-sized oiled roasting pan. Roll gently in the oil to coat. Baked uncovered for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Pour over the meatballs. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
Great served with corn chips on the side, plus rice, shredded lettuce, diced avocado and sour cream. Serves 6-8.
CHILLI BEAN CHIMICHANGAS
A chimichanga is a rolled, stuffed, fried or baked flour tortilla.
425g can chilli beans
1/2 cup sliced, stuffed, green olives
1 cup each: finely sliced cabbage, grated cheese
1 cup Mexican salsa
6 soft burrito tortillas
Toppings: extra salsa
light sour cream
avocado mashed with lemon juice
microgreens or baby mung sprouts
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Combine the beans, olives, cabbage and cheese in a bowl. Add a 1/2 cup of the salsa.
Wrap the tortillas in a paper towel and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until warm and pliable. Lay them flat and spread equal amounts of the bean mixture in a band near the edges. Fold the sides over and roll up tightly to enclose.
Place seam-side down, in a lightly oiled 25cm baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp and brown. Top with the extra salsa, sour cream, avocado and microgreens or sprouts. Serves 4-6.