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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mexican Lunch (Shredded Pork Tacos, Mango Salsa, Avocado Salad, Spanish Rice)

We had friends over. Yay. It was my first hosting event of the year and I decided to kick it off with what I know best and that is Mexican Food! It was a late lunch/early dinner, our kids were jet-lagged from a trip to California and H had an incredibly busy week at work, so I did something easy & delicious.

Homemade Tortilla Chips
Mango Salsa 
Carnitas Tacos (Mexican Pulled Pork)
Sopa de Arroz (Spanish Rice)
Avocado Salad 

Homemade Tortilla Chips (Baked)

This was quick project  that I made about an hour before the guests arrived- I made my own tortillas because I got a hold of some Maseca (Mexican corn-flour) while in the US. Basically you add water and form into a thin disk. But because Maseca is not always ready accessible I would just buy your favorite, preferably corn tortillas (as they are called in the UK "wraps"). Flour tortillas work well too. 

1. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). 
2. Lay one tortilla on a flat surface and brush with corn oil. Flip over and brush the other side with corn oil. 
3. Place another tortilla on top of your first and brush both sides with oil. Keeping doing this, stacking the tortillas in piles of 4. 
4. With a knife cut the tortilla stacks into triangles. 
5. Place the chips on a lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Season with salt. Bake in the oven for about 7 minutes. They should be golden but not burnt. 

Mango Salsa 
The mango salsa is best made the night before so the flavor infuses.  I did make mine the night before. 

1 large ripe/diced mango
2 coarsely chopped seeded tomatoes
1/2 red onion (VERY finely chopped)
fresh cilantro leaves (finely chopped)
Juice from 2 limes
1 minced jalapeno (no seeds, unless you love a real kick)
salt & pepper
garlic powder ( a pinch)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour but best overnight. Serve with chips. 

Shredded Pork Tacos (Pulled Pork)

This is really one of my favorite "party" dishes. It is very easy to do & creates a really powerful taste. I usually make it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. I have reheated both in the oven and on the hob & it has always been perfect. This is a tweaked version of Martha Stewart's version. 

splash of Olive oil
1 large chopped onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
3 bay leaves
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 pound boneless pork shoulder
28 ounces whole tomatoes in juice
1 chipotle chile
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1. Cut your pork shoulder in half (lengthwise) and make sure it fits in a heavy pot.  The pot should be big enough for your pork to sit with about 5 cups of liquid and the lid on. 
2. In a very large pot heat your olive oil.. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, Italian herbs and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste. Add pork, canned tomatoes juice & all, chipotle chile and stock. Let it boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours until the meat is very tender. 
3. The meat will be very hot so be careful (and use tongs) but transfer the meat to a large bowl and shred it with two forks. There might be some fat - get rid of it here. 
4. Once well shredded return the meat to the pot with the sauce. Salt and pepper. Cook uncovered until sauce is thick. This should take 30 - 45 minutes. 
5. To serve fork into warm tortillas with salsa, cabbage, radishes.

Sopa de Arroz (Spanish Rice)
This is my mom's Mexican rice recipe and well, I really love it. I usually start it about 1.5 to 2 hours before we will be eating because rice tends to stay warm.

2 cups long grain rice
2 garlic cloves
2 - 3 tablespoons of corn oil
1 small can of tomato puree (about 4-6 ounces)
1 head of cilantro leaves (fresh)
1 stock cube

1. Heat the oil in a pot and add garlic cloves.
2. Add the rice to the pot and fry the rice until it is golden brown. You will need to constantly stir so it does not burn. Be patient. This can take up to 20 minutes and is a very important step in the process. You really need to stay on top of the pot!
3. Once the rice is golden brown, remove the garlic cloves and throw them away. Add tomato puree and mix well.
4. Add 4 cups of water and stir. Add the cilantro leaves and stock cube. Stir well. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook like normal rice on a low heat.

Avocado Salad 
Oohh - I really enjoy this salad. And the onion and dressing should be prepared the day before and left in the fridge infusing. 

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 medium red onion very finely sliced
juice from 3 limes
1 heaping teaspoon of sugar
cilantro leaves (1/2 cup)
5 avocados 

Combine the olive oil, lime juice, sugar, cilantro leaves and salt. Stir well. This is your dressing. Pour dressing over the red onions and let sit for preferably a day, covered in the fridge. The onion will turn a bright purple color. Before serving, thinly slice the avocados and drizzle onions and dressing over. 

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