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

Texas-Style Pulled Pork Tacos


This is a great, carnitas-style Tex-Mex recipe for using leftover pulled pork. Braised slow and low, the meat is super-tender. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. If you still have leftovers, they freeze wonderfully… Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

5 to 8 cups pulled pork
1/2 cup Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
1 cup chicken stock
1/8 lime, squeezed
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. chimayo chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Serve With:

Tortilla shells, brushed with olive oil and toasted on the grill or on a heavy, cast-iron comal
Fresh guacamole
Thin-sliced red onion
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sliced serrano or jalapeno peppers
Cilantro leaves

 

Directions:

Place the leftover pulled pork and the ingredients indicated in a 5-quart Dutch oven heated at 250-degrees in your oven.
Mix well and heat covered for two hours. Stir once at one hour.

After the second hour, check for tenderness. Reduce heat to 170-degrees F., if needed until ready. Serve in toasted tortilla shells with your choice of fresh guacamole, red onion, cilantro, and shredded Mexican cheese.

 

Serves: 4-6

Leftover Tex-Mex BBQ Pork Tacos | Culinary Compost Recipes

Ensure that there is enough chicken stock and BBQ sauce to just cover the pork. Braise it slow and low until tender.

 

 

Crowd-Control Sloppy Mikes


Here’s a larger, crowd-pleasing version of my southwest winning Sloppy Joe recipe, made with five pounds of ground chuck. This recipe will serve 4-6 sandwiches per pound. I’ve tweaked the recipe to include a few ingredients I had on hand for a social get-together at work this week.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

5 pounds lean ground chuck
5 10.75 oz. cans tomato soup
4 full cans hot water (use one of the soup cans for this purpose)
2 large Spanish onions, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, with greens, diced
2 dashes Worchestershire sauce, (about 1 tbs.)
1/2 heaping cup of chili sauce
2 tsp. salt, to taste
4 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)
4 tsp. whole cumin seed, toasted, then ground by hand in a mortar
2 tbs. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground dry mustard
1 tsp. ground Mexican oregano
2 tsp. dry basil

6 tbs. ground pure chili powder comprised of:
-1 tbs. medium-hot Chimayo chili
-2 tbs. Ancho chili
-3 tbs. smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 large sweet red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

 

Preparation:

Dice the onion, bell pepper and celery and set aside. Using two large heavy skillets (preferrably cast-iron) brown the ground beef in batches until no longer pink, over medium-high heat. Drain of fat and place back in the pans with the onion and celery. Reduce heat to medium and saute for 5-7 minutes, until the onions and celery are softened. Remove and place in a six-quart Nesco covered roaster with the tomato soup and water. Stir to incorporate and keep covered over medium heat.

Add the Worchester sauce, chili sauce and dry spices. Mix well. Bring to a rolling boil and let simmer for two to three hours until reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally. Add the red bell pepper during the last hour. Reduce heat and cover until ready to serve.

Serve on buns with pickle chips and sliced Colby cheese.

 

Serves 20-25 individual sandwiches with plenty of second helpings.

Salsa de Chili Pequin


Salsa de Chili Pequin | Culinary Compost

This is an authentic salsa that originated in the Sonoran desert of Northern Mexico. It is popular in Arizona and New Mexico due to the availability of the hot dried chili pequin pepper. The pepper is a close relative of the very small chiltepin pepper — essentially from the same cultivar; Capsicum Annuum var. Glabriusculum. If you have dried chiltepin peppers on hand, feel free to use those instead — they tend to be more spicy.

My recipe is extremely hot – adjust the heat to your preference.  You may use a propane torch or your oven broiler to blacken the cherry tomatoes. Don’t skip this step, as it’s critical to achieving the smoky, charred flavor that makes this dish so special.

Let stand for an hour in the fridge before serving. En Fuego!

 

Ingredients:

30 cherry tomatoes, washed and drained in cold water.
3/4 cup loose trimmed cilantro leaves
3 small handfuls dried chili pequin peppers (about four tbs.)
4 cloves garlic with husks on
1 tbs. Bragg’s Organic apple cider vinegar
Pinch of salt, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. dried ground Mexican oregano
1 tsp. dried ground coriander seed
up to 3 tbs. cold water (use more if needed)

 

Directions:

Wash thirty small, fresh cherry tomatoes and set aside. Wash and trim the fresh cilantro leaves.

Heat a small, heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the dried pequin peppers. Toast lightly, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from heat. Toast the garlic in the husks using the same manner. The garlic will take longer to toast. Remove when slightly charred, and then peel.

In a heavy eight-inch cast-iron skillet, blacken the cherry tomatoes with a propane torch. Use extreme caution – when possible use this technique outdoors to prevent a fire hazard. Stir occasionally to ensure they are evenly blackened. Remove from the skillet and place in a blender with the cilantro, toasted pequin chili, the garlic, vinegar, salt and ground black pepper. Add the ground coriander and Mexican oregano.

Pulse until smooth. Add a bit of cold water if you need to. Remove and let stand in your refrigerator for one hour before serving.

 

Makes just over one cup.
Heat level: 8

 

Toasted Chili Pequin and Garlic | Culinary Compost

Toasted chili pequin and garlic in a cast-iron skillet.

Blackening Cherry Tomatoes | Culinary Compost

Blackening cherry tomatoes in a cast-iron skillet, using a propane torch.

Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja


Spicy Smoked Salsa Roja

Here’s a Southwest salsa recipe with a unique twist – the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion are smoked over wood chips for two hours. The result adds an entirely new dimension to a traditional red salsa. If you have access to an electric smoker, you’ll have better results with more control, due to the built-in thermostat — but using a traditional covered grill with offset heat is just fine.

The final product will be reduced by about half, due to the water content rendering out during the smoking process. Roma tomatoes are preferred because they have, on average, the lowest percentage of water. The garlic and onion will mellow to a wonderful, earthy flavor. You can use any hard or fruit wood – I’ve found that hickory or applewood works best. If using mesquite, use reservation as it can quickly turn bitter.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tbs. XV olive oil
8-10 large Roma tomatoes – cored and halved
2 large garden Hot Hungarian wax peppers – trimmed, seeded and cut in 2″ chunks
2-4 mature red garden jalapeño peppers – trimmed and halved, with seeds and membrane left intact
1-2 small garden habañero peppers – trimmed (optional)
1/2 red onion – cut in four pieces with the layers separated
4 large cloves garlic (peeled)

1 cup washed cilantro leaves
Juice from 1/8 lemon wedge (optional)
1-2 tsp. salt, to taste

 

Directions:

Carefully wash the tomatoes and peppers and prepare with a sharp knife. Add to a large mixing bowl with the onion and garlic. Add the olive oil and toss lightly to coat.

Prepare an outdoor electric smoker by preheating it to 275-degrees F. Place the water pan in the bottom, but leave it empty. You can line it with foil for easy cleanup. Seal the door. When preheated, place the mixed tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a perforated grill pan directly on a center rack above the water pan. Seal the door and add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader. Smoke for two hours, replenishing the chip loader ONCE after 45 minutes. Do not over smoke.

When finished, turn off the unit and remove the contents from the perforated grill pan and place in a food processor. You’ll need to work in batches. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved. Add the cilantro and pulse again. Transfer to serving bowl and salt to your preference. Add the lemon juice. Mix well, let stand for 20 minutes and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

Makes about 2.5 cups
Preparation time: 1/2 hour
Smoke time: 2 hours
Rest time: 20 minutes
Cerveza time: Whenever the hell you feel like it

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

Fresh-picked garden tomatoes, Hungarian wax peppers and jalapenos.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

The smoked salsa ingredients after hour one.

Spicy Smoked Salsa Rojo

The ingredients shown after the second hour. For this recipe, I used Jack Daniels’ Whiskey Barrel smoker chips.

Mike’s Kachina Canyon Stew


Mike’s Kachina Canyon Stew | Culinary Compost

I’ve fiddled with the ingredients and preparation for this original southwest recipe over the course of six months. I’ve got it down to a science. This stew, made with hot Mexican Chorizo or Longaniza sausage, is satisfying and fairly spicy, with an incredible depth of flavor. The small amount of rendered fat from the sausage creates a really rich base for the broth. Enjoy with cornbread, a side of tortillas cooked on a griddle, chopped cilantro, scallion and a spoonful of sour cream.

Ingredients:

2 tbs. XV olive oil
8 oz. bulk spicy ground Chorizo or Longaniza sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, with greens if possible, trimmed and fine chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced
2 small “new” red potatoes, scrubbed well and diced with skins on
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
Juice from 1/4 fresh lime
1 cup frozen kernel corn
1 fired and peeled fresh poblano – diced, or one 4 oz. can chopped green chili
1 15.8 oz. can great northern or pinto beans, rinsed
2 dry bay leaves
Salt (about 1/2 tsp., to taste)
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
6 dried chiltepin peppers, crushed (optional, for heat)
1 tsp. whole cumin seed, toasted and ground in a mortar
1 tsp. dry Mexican oregano leaf
1/4 cup washed and trimmed cilantro leaves, fine chopped

Sour cream – 1 tbs. per bowl, optional
Scallion, thin-sliced as a garnish, optional
Tortillas, browned on a comal (griddle) with olive oil, and then cut into 1″ x 3″ strips

 

Directions:

In a heavy 3.5 quart cast-iron or enameled cast-iron soup pot, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil until shimmering and brown the chorizo sausage over medium heat. Remove from the pot and place on paper towel to drain off the fat.

Next, add 1 tbs. olive oil, the onion, celery, and garlic and saute until the onion is semi-translucent, but not carmelized, over medium-low heat. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chorizo sausage back to the pot. Add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock and bring up to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer.

Add the kernel corn, chopped red bell pepper, lime juice, carrot, the diced poblano or small can of green chili, the Mexican oregano, cumin and black pepper. Add the bay leaves. *Salt to taste. Simmer partially covered for about 20-30 minutes. Add the potato and simmer for 20 more minutes or until tender. Rinse the beans in a colander with hot water and drain well.  Add the beans to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat until heated through. Add the cilantro, shut off the heat, let stand for five minutes and serve with sour cream, scallion and browned tortillas.

*Go easy on the salt — the sausage and canned beans are loaded with it. I would not add any until you taste, and then correct the seasoning if needed.

Serves 4-6

Note: this recipe can be doubled easily with the same results.

Roasting poblano peppers with a propane torch | Culinary Compost

Roasting poblano peppers with a propane torch. The tough outer skin is unpalatable and should be removed before baking.

Chipotle Gouda Cornbread


Chipotle Gouda Cornbread

A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is a must for cornbread. Let the pan heat in the oven before adding the batter — this will ensure a nice crust on the bottom.

The Gouda cheese and chipotle seasoning add a great, smokey undertone to this dish. A refreshing change from traditional cornbread. Moist and zippy – it’s a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup corn meal
3 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. dry chipotle powder
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, shredded

1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbs. honey
1/2 stick butter, melted


Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan, or a 9″ cake pan or heavy cast-iron skillet, with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl mix the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and chipotle powder until well combined.  Add the cheese and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk, honey or corn syrup, and butter.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into it.  Fold the mixture gently, mixing until the dry ingredients are just moist.  Do not over-mix.

Scoop into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup halfway with batter, or pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes for muffins, or 25 to 30 for the cake pan.
Allow to cool in the pan for 3 minutes before turning out.

Yield: 18 muffins or one 9″ round loaf.