Coppa is an Italian cured meat made from thinly sliced pork shoulder. It is a perfect meat for sandwiches and goes well with melted cheese (then again what doesn’t?) I thought the tangy, Spanish Manchego cheese would go nicely with the flavors of the coppa. I read online that coppa is usually seasoned with white wine before curing so I marinated the tomatoes in white wine, then roasted them in the oven. I patted down the tomatoes a bit so that any wine vapor wouldn’t make the oven catch fire! The result was a wine infused roasted tomato and a fire-free kitchen. On top of the roasted tomatoes I added a layer of basil and grilled it all together. I really liked the sourdough bread with the slightly sour/tangy manchego. The roasted tomatoes provided sweet acidity and the pork was flavorful and a little smoky. All the ingredients were nicely balanced and it was an all around tasty sandwich!
Sri Lankan curries are delicious because they use a number of Indian spices along with fresh ingredients like tamarind, lemongrass, and coconut milk. As for the curry, I decided to use a Sri Lankan blend of cumin, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, cardamom, cloves, curry leaves and cinnamon. I reserved 1 tsp of the curry powder for the yellow rice. The key step in using any curry powder is to toast it beforehand. It’s a step that can be forgotten easily but it results in much more fragrant flavors. While the pork was roasting in the oven, I prepared the base for the curry which wasn’t too hard to throw together. After letting the meat rest the pork was shredded and mixed in to the curry sauce. I loved the flavors of this dish! I really enjoyed the slightly sour flavor of the tamarind and the creaminess of the coconut milk. The pork curry with the yellow rice were great together as well.
When I decided to make Korean/Tex-mex food the first thing I thought of were tacos. They are so easy to load up with any ingredient you like. I settled on pork shoulder for the meat filling along with two different salsas: a red salsa flavored with fresh ginger and sesame seeds and a refreshing cilantro and lime salsa. Then I decided on kimchi, a Korean fermented cabbage and crumbled queso fresco to complete it. The result was a delicious taco loaded with great toppings. The pork was cooked on low heat for about 2 hours which resulted in meat that fell off the bone. The pork was spicy and sweet which went along great with the red salsa and kimchi. The cilantro and lime salsa provided a nice crunch and the lime juice went along nicely with the other fillings. All the flavors worked so well together and I look forward to making this again!
Tamales are a great traditional Mexican dish that is made with masa (corn flour), and stuffed with a meat or bean filling. They are then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed. For the filling, I decided on a nice pork shoulder that I seasoned with savory annatto seeds, cumin, and allspice–the same recipe for the Cochinita Pibil Tacos. I made Chicken Tamales before, and I wanted to try pork. I decided to use a roasted tomatillo salsa and queso fresco again since salsa verde is so good with pork.
This dish is labor intensive and requires some planning–about 2 days. The first day is to get all the ingredients together and cook the filling. The second day is assembling the tamales and steaming them and of course eating them! When the tamales are in the steamer all you have to do is wait. Once the wait is over it is time to unwrap and enjoy some tasty tamales.
I recently made some pork tamales with tomatillo salsa. The pork filling I decided on was a recipe for Cochinita Pibil, a traditional mexican recipe consisting of ground annatto seeds, cumin, allspice and sour oranges. The pork is sweet and fragrant and roasted on low heat so it’s extra tender. Then the pork is shredded and can be added to tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas, or in my case tamales! The pork is wrapped in banana leaves (found at Latin grocery stores), but foil works fine too. The recipe sounds daunting but it’s actually pretty easy to make, especially if you have a spice/coffee grinder. Using whole spices is key as it produces the freshest flavor. The recipe calls for sour orange but I used a blend of juice oranges and limes and that produced a good sweet and sour flavor. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can put it in a variety of different sandwiches or mexican foods. I will be making this again in some way or another.
Cochinita Pibil tacos is a traditional Mexican/Central American dish that is made by slowly roasting pork shoulder with a savory spice blend that consists of cumin seed, annatto seed, cloves and allspice berries. The pork is marinated in spices and orange juice over night, wrapped in banana leaves, and baked in the oven. Thankfully it was easy to find the annatto seeds and banana leaves at a latin grocery store. After several hours, my kitchen smelled amazing from the spices and the pork was ready to be shredded and wrapped in warm corn tacos. I added a little crumbled queso fresco and Mexican pickled onions for garnish. To add a substantial amount of heat I put a tiny bit of roasted habanero salsa on them as well. I topped the tacos with fresh cilantro. If the salsa is just too firey, add a little sour cream to cool the heat.
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My high opinion of pulled pork and pork shoulder was further validated by this recipe for Cuban pulled pork tacos. Making good pulled pork is always a very simple formula: wet rub + dry rub + marinate + several hours in an oven = fork tender, juicy pulled pork. The flavor profile of this recipe is sweet and spicy, which comes from the cuban dry rub and fresh orange and lime juices. The red cabbage and jicama slaw added more sweet heat along with some texture and crunch. The chipotle mayonnaise was surprising as I had never eaten mayo with a taco before but the results were great nonetheless. The mayo is super easy to throw together as all it requires is mixing mayo and a few tablespoons of pureed chiles in adobo sauce with a little lime juice. I topped the tacos with sour cream and chopped cilantro.
I wanted to kick off October with a good fall soup and lentil stew is a perfect fall and winter dish that is both hardy and healthy. I had never tried cooking Italian sausage in a soup before and I was happy with the results. The sausage became very tender through the slow cooking process. This stew is simply seasoned with bay, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar gives a nice depth of flavor and the acidity is very nice. The recipe could be prepared over the stove in a sauce pot instead of a slow cooker, just cook it for 2-3 hours on low. The spiciness of the sausage flavored the broth wonderfully and all this soup really needs is a thick crusted bread to accompany it.
Since I had several pounds of shredded pork, I decided to make a stew out of the leftovers. This stew is an interpretation of a chile verde pork stew but with an addition of red chili flavors. Chile verde with pork is usually green and looks a lot like salsa verde. This stew has the flavors of a green chili with the addition of red chili flavors like paprika, chili powder, and ancho chilis. It turned out really well and I enjoyed all the layers of flavor this stew had. The recipe isn’t too difficult to throw together and it is a great way to use leftover pork roast. I recommend saving the bone from the pork shoulder and throwing it in this stew for added flavor.
I am lucky to live in an area with such a wide availability of ingredients used in tex-mex recipes. My local grocery store, for example, has a 4 ft deep box full of tomatillos, tomatoes, and every pepper both fresh and dried on display. Ever since I tried salsa verde I have been a huge fan of its sweet and sour flavor and how good it tastes on pork, chicken, fish, etc. Because of its versatility I can enjoy it on a lot of different Mexican dishes. My favorite cut of meat lately has been pork shoulder, which cooks so nicely on low heat over a few hours. I buy a larger weight and double my salsa verde recipe so I can have lots of leftovers too! The quesadillas were super tasty and not too difficult to throw together.