Most families have a roundup of classic holiday dishes that they make every year. Those dishes provide plenty of leftovers for days (maybe even weeks) after the holiday has passed. It follows that during the holiday season, the meals start to look the same. We love leftovers, we really do, but every meal enjoyed after Christmas Day starts to seem identical. That is, until you plan a boxing day feast with a spicy twist? These tasty enchiladas are a saucy, cheesy way to use up any leftover turkey from your Christmas dinner.
Slow cooked meat is definitely not a new thing. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it falls apart, ready to be easily shredded or ‘pulled’ apart to serve.
I’m sure most of us have attended a classic Hawaiian Luau at one time or another in our lives. The main course of this Hawaiian feast is always the ‘kalua’ roast pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an ‘Imu’, a type of underground steam oven.
My experience, was that it was definitely pull-apart tender but far too greasy for my liking. It has taken a lot of years for me to want to make even a North American version of this pulled pork idea. To my surprise, it didn’t turn out greasy and was pretty tasty.
The idea that it has to be roasted in an outdoor pit is really not true. It can be made easily in a standard domestic oven. Of course the seasonings, temperatures and serving methods are all open to debate.
Pork shoulder is ideal for pulling purposes, either bone-in or boneless. It has an optimum fat content that yields to create tender, ‘melty‘ meat, but its essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Using a dry rub will also help create tenderness and flavor.
There are numerous ways you can serve pulled pork such as on some fresh brioche buns, with cornbread or in tacos. We are going to have ours in corn tortillas with some kohlrabi coleslaw and roasted rhubarb sauce.
This pairing of pork, corn tortillas and guava brings me back to some of the flavors we tasted on our adventures in both Cuba and Mexico.
Pulled pork sounds like a lot of work but it simply comes down to a gentle, slow cooking process so it can be literally ‘pulled apart’ when finished. Pork shoulder is the most commonly used joint. The long cooking could dry out some cuts but shoulder is quite a fatty joint, therefore providing a natural baste. During the cooking period, most of the fat will dissolve but most importantly its this long cooking process that breaks down the tough fibrous connective tissue called collagen that tenderizes the meat making it so easy to pull apart. Although smokers are very often used, slow cookers or even traditional ovens will do the job nicely.
When the pork is finally done, it needs to rest for 10 minutes and then it should be ready for pulling apart. Use two forks to shred the meat and you’ve got it! This meal not only has great eye appeal, but the taste is wonderful!
To some of us, Mexican food terms get a little confusing. I mean there is the taco, burrito, quesadilla, enchilada and taquito just to name a few. Before anything, one needs to know what a tortilla is. Simply put, it is wheat or corn plain bread that is used as a wrapping material around different types of filling ingredients to make the various Mexican dishes.
Masa Harina is a traditional flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales as well as other Mexican meals. To make masa harina, field corn (or maize) is dried and then treated in a solution of lime and water called slaked lime (or wood-ash lye). This loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. In addition, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract.
The soaked maize is then washed, and the wet corn is ground into a dough called masa. It is this fresh masa, when dried and powdered, that becomes masa harina. Water is added again to make dough for the corn tortillas or tamales.
Cornmeal and masa harina are very different preparations of corn. Do not try to substitute cornmeal or regular wheat flour in recipes calling for masa harina as they will not produce the same results.
Today, I want to make some tortilla crepe stacks. Crepes as we all know, have always been a hallmark of French cuisine. So the question is, ‘how did they come to be in Mexican cuisine’? In the 1860’s, French forces invaded Mexico. They came, they conquered, they cooked and then they got kicked out. Cinco de Mayo commemorates that victory for Mexico from 1862. However, it took another five years before the French left Mexico for good. During their stay, the French left their mark on the country’s cuisine.
One of the reasons I have always loved crepes, is that they are so easy to make and taste so good. You can either roll the filling inside or just stack them with their fillings and make a ‘cake’.
These tortilla crepes are made with half masa harina and half white flour. Next, I made a mushroom rice & barley pilaf and some guacamole. You can pick and choose when it comes to the extra filling add-ons. I guess it did get a bit more involved but worth it —.
Taking vegetables and turning them into ‘fries’ isn’t a new concept. Through the years we have definitely become more knowledgeable about nutrition and healthier eating. It seems we are always looking for a way to have that deep fried flavor without consuming so much of the grease.
Trends come and go, but you have to admit, avocados are still high on most of our priority lists. There seems to be endless ways beyond guacamole to unleash their true potential. Baked avocado fries are amazing. Crisp and crunchy on the outside while being smooth and creamy on the inside.
Nothing says ‘summer’ like strawberries and rhubarb. Usually the combo appears in pies, crumbles and the like. But, I think the avocado fries are beckoning me to make a savory salsa out of them. This salsa is a great balance of sweet, tart and spicy — summer eating at its best!