Taos Carnitas-Style Pork Tacos


Taos Carnitas-Style Grilled Pork Tacos | Culinary Compost

This is my signature southwest New Mexican-inspired dish with seasoned grilled pork that is slow-braised and then shredded, carnitas-style. Note that the seasoning is very similar to my other Southwest recipes; the key ingredients invariably being pure New Mexican chili powder, Mexican oregano, toasted and ground cumin and coriander. Serve with Rajas de Chile Poblano, a lime wedge, Mexican cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

For the Rub:
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground Mexican oregano leaf
1 tbs. smoked Spanish Paprika
3 tbs. whole cumin seed, toasted and ground by hand in a mortar
2 tbs. mild ground Ancho chili powder
1 tsp. hot NM Chimayo chili powder, to taste
2 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. ground whole black pepper
1 tbs. Mexican achiote paste

For the Marinade:
1/2 cup XV olive oil
Juice from 2 squeezed limes
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

2 pounds lean cubed pork stew meat
2 large poblano peppers, blistered and sliced
1 large red onion, sliced in 1/4″ strips
1 cored and seeded red bell pepper – cut into 1/4″ strips
1/2 cup pork or chicken stock
Kosher salt, to taste

8-10 tortilla shells for serving
Lime wedges
Mexican shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro leaves as garnish – about 3/4 cup
Sour cream
Salsa fresca

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°-F. Cut and reserve the red onion and bell pepper. Measure the dry rub ingredients and mix well in a medium-sized shaker jar. Place the cubed pork in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle generously with the rub. Stir to coat and add more to ensure all the cubed pork is evenly covered.  Add the XV olive oil, lime juice and mashed garlic to a small mixing bowl. Whisk aggressively for two minutes.

Add the liquid marinade to the cubed pork and stir gently to incorporate. Cover and chill for at least three hours.

Prepare a lump charcoal fire in an outdoor kettle grill. When the coals are white-hot, level and place a baking cooling rack over the outdoor grilling grate to ensure the pork doesn’t fall through the slats.  Brush the rack with cooking spray prior, so the pork doesn’t stick.  Add the pork, (cooking in two batches) to the rack and spread out evenly. Cook uncovered 2-4 minutes per side and then transfer to a 5-quart heavy cast-iron dutch oven. Add 1/2 cup chicken or pork stock. Cover.

Place the dutch oven with the pork in the preheated oven and let sit. Next, place the two poblano peppers on the outdoor grill and char, about 4-6 minutes, until the tough outer skin blisters. Rotate occasionally. Remove, run under cold water to remove the blistered tough outer skin. Core and slice into 1/4″ strips. Add the sliced poblano to a grilling basket with the sliced red onion and bell pepper. Place over direct heat on the grill and brush lightly with olive oil. Season with Kosher salt to taste. Stir occasionally and let char – about 6-10 minutes. Remove and set aside, covered.

Cook the pork covered in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, until tender. Remove and shred with two forks. Add the reserved sliced grilled poblano, red onion and bell pepper and stir to incorporate. Set covered on the stove top until ready to serve.

Serve on tortilla shells with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, salsa and a lime wedge.

Serves 6-8

Taos Carnitas-Style Grilled Pork Tacos | Culinary Compost

Taos Carnitas-Style Grilled Pork Tacos | Culinary Compost

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Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers


Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a classic Asian appetizer recipe, traditionally served in Japanese restaurants as an accompaniment to sushi. The peppers are impossible to find in local supermarkets here, but I’m told you can get them fresh at Trader Joe’s — my brother had the foresight to plant them in his garden this year and was nice enough to share. While the chilies are reputedly very mild, the rumor is that one-in-ten are mind-numbingly spicy — so proceed with caution if you’re planning on serving them to hapless guests.  The recipe also traditionally calls for the Japanese Yuzu fruit, instead of a lemon or lime. If you can find one, use it.


Ingredients:

10 fresh garden Japanese Shishito peppers
2 heaping tbs. Panko bread crumbs, toasted in a skillet over medium-low heat
1 fresh lime – cut into eighths
Kosher salt
1 tbs. Sesame oil

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. hot chili sambal paste
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
Dash of fresh lime juice

 

Directions:

Rinse the peppers under cold water in colander. Pierce each with a toothpick and leave the stems on. Set aside. Preheat a cast-iron pan or wok over medium heat on a stovetop or outdoor charcoal grill.

Toast the Panko bread crumbs in a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat; about six to eight minutes, shaking often. Remove and transfer to a small serving bowl.

Prepare the dipping sauce ingredients and whisk together. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

When the skillet or wok is preheated, add the Shishito peppers and toss with about 1 tbs. sesame oil to coat. Spread them out and let them char slightly before turning. Turn and watch them so they don’t scorch. Total cooking time is roughly 10-12 minutes depending on the temperature of your grill or burner. Remove from the heat and add a dash of lime juice and Kosher salt. Stir and then sprinkle with the toasted Panko bread crumbs.

Serve with the soy dipping sauce.

Serves 4-6

Pan-Seared Japanese Shishito Peppers | Culinary Compost Recipes

Mike’s Knob Creek Bourbon-Grilled Salmon


Mike's Knob Creek Bourbon-Grilled Salmon

I threw this together when I found salmon filets on sale at my local supermarket. Pre-prohibition style Knob Creek bourbon is 100-proof and aged 9 years – the high alcohol content assures a kickass glaze when fired over real wood charcoal.

Make sure the fish you select is very fresh – grill with the skin-side down and use care when turning the filets so you don’t ruin the presentation – salmon is very fragile when cooked and will fall apart if handled too much.

Ingredients:

2 large fresh Atlantic salmon filets with skin

For the Marinade:
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. fine-ground fresh ginger root
4 cloves minced garlic
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup XV olive oil
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

For the Glaze:
3 shots premium Knob Creek bourbon
4 tbs. brown sugar
2 tbs. honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 stick salted butter

Real wood charcoal

Directions:
Prepare the marinade ingredients and mix well in a bowl. Place the salmon filets in a Ziplock bag and add the marinade. Seal and let sit in your fridge for at least four hours. Rotate every hour.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small, heavy cast-iron skillet and add the glaze ingredients. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Shut off the heat.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let warm at room temperature for 1/2 hour before grilling.

Prepare an outdoor Weber grill with enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When the charcoal starts to turn white, level and oil the grilling grate with a little vegetable oil so the fish doesn’t stick.

Remove the filets from the marinade and place directly in the center of the grill; skin-side down. Cover and grill vented for about 5 minutes. Brush with the marinade and grill for an additional 3-4 minutes. (Waiting until basting ensures that raw juices don’t get redistributed and contaminate the fish.)

Baste again and then CAREFULLY flip the fish over so the skin side is up. (The skin should be charred and peel off – this is normal.) Baste and grill covered for another three minutes. Baste. Flip back over and baste one last time. Grill covered an additional 2 minutes until the filets flake easily and the internal temperature in the thickest part reads 130°-F.

Remove and serve immediately. Fish should flake apart when done in the thickest part of the filet. Enjoy — This recipe is amazing!

Serves 2

 

Note: Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

Mike's Knob Creek Bourbon-Grilled Salmon

Mike's Knob Creek Bourbon-Grilled Salmon

The melted butter-bourbon glaze.

Mike's Knob Creek Bourbon-Grilled Salmon

Achieving a proper 100-proof alcohol-infused char after applying the bourbon glaze.

Grilled Greek Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki Sauce


IMG_0561-grilled-chicken-pita

This recipe is a home-run for busy families.  I created it after examining and testing three different versions. Marinated chicken with a combination of Greek spices is skewered, then seared over hot coals and served in a warm Pita bread shell with an amazing Greek Tzatziki sauce. Minimal prep time meets maximum taste — Opa!

 

For the Chicken Marinade:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup XV olive oil
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic – minced
1 handful fresh oregano, stemmed and fine chopped – about 4 tbs.
1 tsp. ground coriander
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
3 large chicken breasts

For the Tzatziki Sauce:
8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and fine chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 small sprig fresh oregano, stemmed and fine chopped – about 1 tbs.
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

===

Feta cheese
Pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
10 small, ripe garden cherry tomatoes – halved
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
6 stalks scallion with greens, trimmed and cut into 1″ chunks
Greek flat or pocket pita bread
XV olive oil

5 wood grilling skewers – soaked in water for at least 1 hour

 

Directions:

Prepare the chicken marinade ingredients and whisk thoroughly in a bowl. Cut the chicken in 1/2″ slices and place in the marinade. Mix to coat and let stand covered in your fridge for at least 3 hours. Rotate once per hour.

Prepare the Tzatziki sauce and mix well. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours so it has time to set up.

Place the wood grilling skewers in water and soak for at least 1 hour so they don’t burn when placed on the grill.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers and alternate with the scallion pieces. Ensure the chicken is secure so it doesn’t fall off the skewers. Set aside on a plate to warm up to room temperature before grilling. Discard the marinade.

When ready to grill, prepare enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When the coal turns white-hot, level them and brush the grilling grate with peanut oil so the chicken doesn’t stick. Place the skewers on the grilling grate and grill for 2-3 minutes per side until the chicken’s juices run clear and there is a nice, even char. DO NOT OVERCOOK!  Remove immediately from the skewers and serve inside lightly-toasted pita bread brushed with olive oil, the tomato, red onion, Feta cheese, Kalamata olives and Tzatziki sauce.

Serves 4.

Grilled Greek skewered chicken with scallion | Culinary Compost

Grilled Greek skewered chicken with scallion | Culinary Compost

Indian Chicken Tikka Masala


This is a best-of modification of three online recipes I’ve tested. Chicken Tikka Masala is heavily British-influenced – it is not a recipe culturally-tied to native India.
Enjoy – this is one of my favorites; I love it paired with grilled asparagus.

Ingredients:

For the marinade~

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin (from toasted seed)
1 tbs. garam masala spice
1/2 tbs. ground coriander
1/2 tbs. ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger root
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
Pinch of salt, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the sauce~

2 tbs. butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large onion, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
1.5 tbs. garam masala spice
2 tsp. ground cumin, from toasted seed
2 tbs. ground mild paprika
Pinch of salt, to taste
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro – washed and stemmed

Basmati rice – cooked per package directions

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and mix well with a spatula. Score the chicken with a sharp paring knife in 1/2″ increments. Place the marinade in a Zip-Lok® bag with the chicken and coat evenly. Place in fridge for 24 hours.

The next day, preheat a grill with enough charcoal for a  medium-hot fire. Scrap off the excess marinade from the chicken and place in the center of the grate with coals leveled and cover – grilling at least 5 minutes per side, or until charred but juicy. Remove and let cool on a platter.

In a large, heavy wok, heat 2 tbs. butter until melted and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until golden and fragrant – about ten minutes. Add the dry Indian spices, the tomato sauce, and the crushed plum tomatoes. Cook until slightly reduced (about 15-20 minutes). Cube the chicken and add to the wok. Slowly add the heavy cream, stirring constantly. Reduce until thick, (about 10 minutes). When ready to serve, add the chopped cilantro and spoon over cooked Basmati rice with your choice of a vegetable for a side dish.

Serves 4.

Grilled Beef Kabobs with Rogan Josh Marinade


Grilled beef kabobs with rogan josh marinade

This recipe is a summer favorite in our house. We usually grill corn first and then cook the kabobs after re-stoking our 22″ Weber® charcoal kettle grill. The Rogan Josh seasoning adds unbelievable Middle-Eastern flavor.

Choose the best Angus sirloin cut of beef you can find if preparing the kabobs by hand. Our supermarket has them pre-made on skewers for convenience.

Ingredients:

4 assembled kabobs on skewers including 1.5″ cubes of Angus sirloin, green and red pepper, red onion and zucchini.

–For the Marinade:
2 cups bottled lemon juice, from concentrate
1/2 cup XV olive oil
1 tbs. Rogan Josh seasoning
1 tbs. liquid smoke
2 tbs. Worchestershire sauce
4 cloves crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prepare the marinade in a mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate. Place the kabobs and the marinade in a deep 9×13″ baking dish, ensuring that the kabobs are evenly coated. Cover tightly and marinate in your fridge for at least six hours, but best overnight. Rotate the kabobs every few hours so they marinate evenly.

Prepare a hot fire on your Weber® 22″ grill. When coals are white hot, level them and place the kabobs directly over them. If you remove the kabobs from the fridge and let them warm up a bit before grilling they will not stick to the grate. The olive oil and lemon juice will flame up when it contacts the hot coals. This is normal and will add great seared flavor.

Reserve the marinade in a dish. Cover the grill and cook the kabobs for about three minutes a side, basting with the reserved marinade and rotating the kabobs evenly for a total of about twelve minutes. The beef should firm up and the juices will run clear when ready. DO NOT brush on the marinade during the last few minutes of cooking time, due to the raw meat juice coming back in contact with cooked meat.

Remove from the grill and serve immediately with seasoned rice or corn.

Serves 4

Marinated Italian Grilled Chicken Breasts


This is such an easy way to elevate plain-old chicken. The marinade infuses the meat and makes it super-juicy, even on the grill. Pair with garlic pasta, sliced on a salad or with grilled focaccia bread and provolone cheese.

Ingredients:

4 skinned, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cup XV olive oil
3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, crushed, then minced
Cayenne pepper flakes to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Italian oregano, ground in a mortar

1/4 cup fresh-grated hard parmesan cheese

Directions:

Thaw the chicken, if frozen. Place in a zip-lock storage bag. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken. Coat well and seal the bag tightly. Refrigerate for at least four hours, but best overnight.

Heat an outdoor charcoal grill with enough coals for a medium-hot fire. When the coals turn white, level them and put the chicken on the grate over direct heat. Baste with the marinade. Cook until slightly charred on one side, then flip over. Cook until juices run clear but do not over cook.

Remove from the grill, slice into 1/2″ strips and sprinkle with the grated parmesan while still hot. Serve with your choice of pasta or side dish.

Serves 4-6