Friday, September 21, 2007

Smoky Shredded Pork Tacos recipe (Tacos de Picadillo Oaxaqueño)

Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

A perfect combination of flavours -- including pork, hot, smokey chipotle chillis (smoked, dried jalapeno chillis), sweet raisins and roasted almonds. Like with a curry, the flavours improve after a day or two.

If you're having trouble finding chipotle chillis, look in 'gourmet' delis or you can order them from various online retailers.

Makes enough for 16 to 18 tacos

  • boneless pork shoulder, 675g, trimmed of fat and cut into 5cm cubes
  • garlic cloves, unpleeled, 5
  • white onion, 1 large, diced
  • ground cinnamon, ½ tsp, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • black pepper, 1/4 tsp
  • ground cloves, 1/8 tsp
  • raisins, 85g
  • slivered almonds, 55g
  • for tomato-chipotle sauce (makes 350ml)
    • chipotle chillis, 2 to 3, stemmed (or canned chipotle chilis en adobo)
      OR chilies pasillas oaxaqueños, 1 to 2, stemmed
    • ripe tomatoes, 500g (2 large round, or 7 to 8 plum)
    • olive or vegetable oil, or rich-tasting lard, 2 ½ tbsp
    • salt, about a scant ½ tsp
  • corn tortillas, 16 to 18 (plus a few extra, in case some break)
  • hot sauce, optional, for serving

Simmer meat
  • In a medium-size (2 to 3.5 litre) saucepan, cover meat with heavily salted water.
    Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of the garlic and add along with half of the onion. 
  • Bring to a gentle boil, skim off any greyish foam that rises during the first few minutes.
  • Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until thoroughly tender, about 1 ½ hrs. 
  • If time permits, cool the meat in the broth. (Reserve broth for soup or sauce.)
Shred meat.  Between your fingers or with some forks.

Make tomato-chipotle sauce.
  • Prepare chillis
    • For canned chillis - remove from their canning sauce.
    • For dried chillis
      • toast them on an ungreased griddle or heavy frying pan over medium heat, turning regularly and pressing flat, until very aromatic, about 30 seconds.
      • In a small bowl, cover chillis with hot water and leave to re-hydrate for 30 minutes, stirring to ensure even soaking.
      • Drain and discard the water.
  • Roast garlic
    • Roast the remaining 3 cloves of the unpeeled garlic on the griddle or frying pan, turning occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes.
    • Cool and peel.
  • Roast tomatoes
    • Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 10cm below a very hot grill until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes; flip and roast the other side.
    • Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
  • Blend chillis, garlic and tomatoes -- pulse them in a food processor or blender, to a medium-fine puree.
  • Fry puree
    • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil or lard in a heavy, medium-size (2 to 3.5 litre) saucepan over medium-high.
    • Add the puree and stir for about 5 mins as it fries and thickens.
    • Taste and season with salt.
Bring the filling together
  • Roast almonds
    • Turn on the oven to 180ºC.
    • Toast the almonds in the oven in a small baking tin until fragrant and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes
  • Heat oil 1 ½ tbsp of oil or lard, in a large (25 to 30cm) heavy, well-seasoned or nonstick frying pan, over medium-high heat.
  • When hot, add the shredded meat and remaining half of the onion.
  • Fry, regularly stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom, until the whole mixture is crispy and golden, 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon, pepper, cloves and raisins over the meat, then pour on the tomato-chipotle sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until nearly all the liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add roasted almonds and stir them in.
  • Taste and season with a little more salt if necessary.

Heat tortillas
  • Set up a steamer (with this many tortillas, you’ll need 2 vegetable steamers set up in saucepans or a big Chinese steamer--either choice with 1cm of water under the steamer basket); heat to a boil.
  • Wrap the tortillas in 2 stack in thick tea towels, lay in the steamer(s) and cover tightly.
  • Boil 1 minute, turn off the heat and leave to stand without opening the steamer for 15 minutes.
Prepare tacos
  • Either prepare the tacos in the kitchen by scooping a couple of heaped tablespoons of filling into each warm tortilla, rolling or folding them and nesting them into a cloth-lined basked
  • Or, scoop the filling into a warm bowl and set out with a cloth-lined basket of steaming tortillas for your guests to construct their own tacos.
  • Optionally, add a dash of hot sauce onto the filling in the taco.

  • Shortcuts: two-thirds of an 800g can of tomatoes can replace the fresh roasted ones; leftover roast pork can replace the boiled pork
  • The pork can be simmered several days in advance (refrigerate it in covered container with its broth, then strain and shred before continuing with the dish) or finish the picadillo a day or two ahead, cover it and refrigerate.

  • Try mixing the leftover picadillo with grated chesese, baking it to heat through, then seving it as a communal appeitzer or a light main dish with tortillas--a variation on queso fundido.
  • Shredded Pork Enchiladas. Prepare the recipe tripling the sauce; set the extra 2/3 of the sauce aside. Roll the filling in the tortiallas, fit them into a baking dish, pour the reseraved sauce over them and bake at 190ºC to warm through. Sprinkle with queso añejo or Parmesean and chopped coriander; seve immediately.
  • Chiles Rellenos for a buffet. Roast and peel six poblanos, make a slit in their sides, remove the seeds, then fill each with about 5 tbsps of the filling (you’ll only need 1/2 the batch) and fit into a decorative backing dish. Slowly cook 2 large sliced onions in a little olive oil until nicely browned, soft and cramelized. Strew over the chillis and bake the whole assembly to heat through. Sprinkle liberally with queso añejo or Parmesan and set out on the buffet.
  • Use filling to fill tamales, other chiilis (jaapeños, chiptles, chiles pasillas oaxaqueños), molotoes, qusadillas and so forth.

Updated 11 Dec 2017: reformatted recipe and modified some of the wording, to make it easier to read.  Fixed a few typos.

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