My hubby has the strangest sense of humor. Recently as we sat down to a fine, all from scratch Mexican supper, I made the comment that it was nice to spend time putter about in the kitchen. He smiled and replied “So that’s why you’re so good at miniature golf.” A silly man making a silly play on the word “puttering”.
This was, hands down, one of the best Mexican meals we’ve had at home. Everything was perfect. When I started to post the recipes, I saw how much I had changed things up from the original recipe – a lot of winging it as I puttered about. I am just glad I had the good sense to make notes on my recipe print out so that I could save the changes. Sometimes I think that’s the best way to cook, just get in there with a basic concept and run with it. Recipes should be a basis for creation, not the final word on cooking. Trust your instincts. Follow your nose. When everything comes together in an eye-catching aromatic way, you know you’ve done right.
Have fun! That ‘s the most important part about cooking – having fun! Who cares if the sink is piled high with every pot and pan you own. Cooking is messy – it’s part of the creative process. The most important seasoning of all is the flavors of love.
Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Salsa and Hand-Pressed Tortillas
2 lbs Pork Roast, Shoulder
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Onion, Red diced
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoons Mexican Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
Ghost Chili Sauce to taste
1 can Ro-Tel Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Chilies
Chicken Stock as needed
2 tablespoons Masa Flour
To Make Pork Carnitas
Cut pork into 1 inch cubes, trimming some but not all of the fat from the chunks of pork. Season with salt and pepper. Place chunks of meat into a bowl and set aside.
Mince red onion. Mix onion into the pork chunks.
In a 1-cup measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup chicken stock, garlic powder, chili powder and chipotle seasoning. Whisk to blend. Taste and increase heat as desired with ghost chili sauce or other hot pepper sauce. Whisk well. Pour over pork, toss to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes for flavors to blend.
Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Remove pork pieces from seasoning marinade, reserving the liquid. Brown chunks of meat about 3 to 5 per side or until a beautiful golden-brown.
Pour reserved liquid over the meat. Add Ro-Tel Tomatoes. Stir gently. Add enough additional chicken stock to cover the pork in liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 2 hours.
While meat is simmering, make salsa.
Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce
6 Tomatillos, peeled
4 or 5 Pickled Jalapeno Peppers from a can
3 Roma Tomatoes, firm
1/4 cup Onion, Red
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
To Make Salsa
Peel tomatillos. Rinse to remove stickiness. Coarsely chop and set aside.
Remove jalapeno peppers from can of pickled peppers. Stem and coarsely chop.
Place half of the tomatillos and half of the jalapeno peppers into a small food processor. Pulse until chopped into small pieces that are still recognizable. Place in a bowl.
Chop tomatoes, add to the tomatillo mixture. Stir to blend well.
Coarsely chop red onion. Add to salsa.
Chop cilantro, sprinkle over salsa mixture. Stir to blend.
Set aside until ready to use.
While the salsa is blending, make the tortillas.
Basic Corn Tortillas
2 cups Masa Flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups Hot tap Water
Vegetable Oil as needed
To Make Corn Tortillas
Whisk masa and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water; knead in bowl until dough forms. The dough should feel firm and springy and look slightly dry (think Play-Doh). Add more water by tablespoonfuls if too crumbly; add a little more masa if too wet.
Cut 10 sheets of waxed paper large enough to cover the base of the tortilla press when folded in half. Lightly spray each sheet with cooking spray when lining press.
Break off about a tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into a ball.
Place the ball, one at a time, between sprayed wax paper in the press. Press into a tortilla, remove to a plate, still in paper. Repeat until all the tortillas are made, stacked together with the paper between to keep separated.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; lightly brush with oil. Cook 2-3 tortillas at a time until charred in spots and edges start to curl, 1-2 minutes. Turn; cook through, about 15 to 20 seconds longer. Transfer to a tortilla dish to keep warm. Repeat until all the tortillas have been cooked.
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup crumbled Mexican Cheese
To Finish Filling
Once the pork is tender, remove about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the masa and whisk to blend smooth. Pour back into the pot. Let mixture thicken into a gravy consistency.
Remove meat with sauce from the pot into a large serving bowl.
Spoon meat into tortillas, sprinkle with a little tomatillo salsa, sour cream and crumble cheese.