Friday, September 21, 2007

Favourite Recipes: Smoky Shredded Pork Tacos

Smoky Shredded Pork Tacos (Tacos de Picadillo Oaxaqueño)
(Adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen)

This dish blew me away :). I'd never tasted anything like it. The flavours -- including pork, hot, smokey chipotle chillis (smoked, dried jalapeno chillis), sweet sultanas and roasted almonds -- completement each other perfectly. Nothing like the generic Mexican flavours you usually find over here in Australia.

It should be pretty easy to get all of the ingredients except the chipotle chillis. I've seen them in 'gourmet' delis, and you can also order them online. In Australia, you can order them from Herbie's Spices.

Makes enough for 16 to 18 tacos

  • For boiling meat
    • boneless pork shoulder, 675g, trimmed of fat and cut into 5cm cubes
    • unpeeled garlic cloves, 5
    • large white onion, 1, diced
  • For 350ml Tomato-Chipotle Sauce
    • 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-tasing lard, 2 ½ tbsp
    • salt, about a scant ½ tsp
  • Remaining flavourings
    • ground cinnamon, ½ tsp, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
    • black pepper, 1/4 tsp
    • ground cloves, 1/8 tsp
    • raisins, 85g
    • slivered almonds, 55g
  • corn tortillas, 16 to 18 (plus a few extra, in case some break)
  • A little hot sauce, if you and your guests like it really picante

  • Boiling meat
    • In a medium-size (2 to 3.5 litre) saucepan, cover meat with heavily salted water. Peel and rouchly 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 the broth for soup or sauce.)

  • Shredding meat
    • Shred the meat between your fingers or with some forks

  • Making Tomato-Chipotle Sauce.
    • Prepare chillis, roast garlic and roast tomatoes
      • Chillis
        • Canned chillis need only be removed 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 rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring to ensure even soaking.
          • Drain and discard the water.
        • Roasting the garlic
          • Roast the remaining 3 cloves of the unpeeled garlic on the griddle or frying pan, turning occasionaly, until soft, about 15 minutes.
          • Cool and peel.
        • Roasting the tomatoes
          • Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet 10cm below a very hot grill until blackened on one side, about 6 minutes; flip and rost the other side.
          • Cool, then peel, collecting all the juices with the tomatoes.
    • Blend ingredients
      • In a food processor or blender, pulse the tomatoes, chillis and garlic to a medium-fine puree.
    • Fry the sauce
      • Heat 1 tbsp of the oil or loard 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 it together to make the filling (the picadillo).
    • In a large (25 to 30cm) heavy, well-seasoned or nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining 1 ½ tbsp of oil or lard over medium-high.
    • 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.
    • Roast the 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
    • Add almonds - stir them into the picadillo.
    • 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
    • You can 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 torillas for your guests to construct their own tacos.
    • In either case, pass the hot sauce separately if you have it.

  • Notes
    • 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.

  • Variations
    • 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.

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