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FEATURE: COOKING LOCAL ROASTED CHILIS PORK TACOS

May 28, 2009

 

-4 pounds country ribs, or other stewing

cut

-2 cups masa harina (fine corn flour)
-2 large onions, chopped
-3 carrots, sliced into soup-sized

chunks

-3 4 celery stalks, also chopped
-1 large bell pepper
-2 or 3 jalapeno peppers

"margin: 0in 0in 0pt">-1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

-1 bottle of beer,

preferably dark and mild like Black Butte Porter, Negra Modello or Xingu

-1 large can crushed stewed tomatoes
-5 cloves of garlic,

diced

-juice of ½ fresh lime plus zest
-3 bay leaves
-whole cumin and coriander seeds, dash of

oregano

-pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
-3 tablespoons oil
-salt and pepper
 
Coat ribs in flour and brown in oil on all sides, set

aside. Add in

 
Welcome back to the kitchen. This week I found myself drawn to a great cut of pork that I just had

to use. Country ribs come boneless or with a small bone. They are the meatiest rib cut and also can cook for a

long time, breaking down into tender deliciousness.

I

am a big lover of tacos and Mexican food in general, so I want to slow cook our country pork ribs in a red sauce

with fire roasted chilis, tomatoes, beer, veggies and spices until it easily falls apart with a fork. Then

we’ll whip up some perfect guacamole, a little cabbage salad, heat up some corn tortillas, and we’ve

got an awesome homemade taco that will rival the best authentic truck stand.

Before we get started I want to chare with you a useful cooking resource I recently

stumbled across online. http://www.foodsubs.com/. It’s a

Cook’s Thesaurus that offers helpful substitutions and identifications and can really make forging your own

path in the kitchen much more fruitful.

Foodsubs.com

notes that pork country ribs “have more meat than spareribs or back ribs, but they aren't as easy to eat

with fingers.  Allow 1/2 pound per person.  They come boneless (pictured) or bone-in.

Substitutes:  pork spareribs (less meaty and fatty) OR pork back ribs (less meaty and fatty

still).” So you can see, the website is a wealth of information.

Now, let’s get started with our slow stewed red pork tacos with fresh guacamole. For

this recipe we’ll need:

 

"margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">OK, and time to cook. First of all we’re going to coat all the

pork in the masa harina so it get a solid dusting all around the meat. I like to use a pie pan or a big plate to

coat the ribs, then shake off the excess flour.

Heat

up two tablespoons of oil in a large pot (at least 8 quarts) to medium high. Carefully lay the pork ribs into the

pan and let them cook for just a couple of minutes per side. We’re not cooking them all the way through,

we’re just browning them a bit for a nice crust that will hold in the juice while they slow cook.

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">Once all of the ribs are browned all around, take them out of

the pan and set aside. Add the last tablespoon of oil and toss in the whole cumin and coriander seeds. This will

heat up the seeds until they pop and splutter, and infuse the oil with flavor of the spices. Once the seeds are

jumping around, add in the chopped onions.

After the

onions have had a couple of minutes head start sauté, add in the carrots, celery, green peppers, and garlic

and stir, turning down to medium. While the veggies are cooking a bit more, lets fire roast our chili peppers

directly on the burner of the stove. This works whether you have a gas or electric stove. Just turn the heat up to

medium high and lay the peppers directly on the burner. The skin will sizzle and blacken after a few minutes, then

turn the peppers until they are charred all over.

Once

they are roasted, move the jalapeños into a plastic bag and twist it closed. Set aside for at least 15

minutes to let them cool off. This will allow the peppers to steam a bit more and it will make the skins easier to

peel off. I highly recommend you use a pair of rubber gloves when you peel the blackened skin off the peppers, you

skin will burn and you will have spicy juice all over if you use your bare hands.

Remove the skins, seeds, and stems from the roasted peppers and dice them up small

to add to the pork. Mine are nice and spicy with a sweet smokey kick, they will really bring out the character of

this dish. Toss them into the pot with the rest of the veggies.

Open up the large can of crushed tomatoes and pour it into the pot. Squeeze in the lime juice and

grate in a bit of the peel, or zest for extra tangy flavor. Now let’s pour in the beer and add the chopped

cilantro, the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper as well.

Mix all the ingredients together well and add back the browned country pork ribs. The liquids

should just about cover over all of the meat so it will simmer and stew down nice and tender. Add another splash

of beer or some more canned tomatoes if there isn’t enough juice to cover the ribs.

"margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">Bring the dish up to a near boil, then turn it down to low, put on a

cover,  and forget about it for a few hours. This is the hard part, the waiting game. Just know that the

longer this dish cooks, the better it will be. I recommend letting it simmer for about two hours on low, and even

longer if you’ve got the time.

 

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">So these red sauce and roasted chilis pork ribs have been

simmering for a good long time now, lets check them out. They smell delicious and what few bones are in here have

completely fallen away from theoh so tender meat. Fish out the bones and discard. Let’s use a slotted spoon

to strain the pork (along with some of the onions and veggies) to a serving bowl. Pull apart the ribs using two

forks into bite sized taco bits. Wow, this looks awesome. I’m about ready to eat.

To serve these tacos, we need some toppings. So I’m just going to make up

a batch of perfect guacamole. We need:

-2 ripe

avocados, halved with seed and skin removed

-2 green

onions, minced

-the juice of ½ lime

style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">-1 roma tomato, diced

-1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
-a pinch of salt
 
Use a fork to mash all of these ingredients together in a bowl until it gets

nice and smooth and creamy. Sometimes I like to toss in a dash of hotsauce as well, but because the meat is quite

spicy I’m going to leave it out. Let’s also finely slice up some green cabbage into thin ribbons and

toss with a little bit of lime juice. This will make a great cool and crunchy taco topping.

"margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in">I’m also going to crumble some dry and salty cotija cheese,

which is a little bit like feta, but milder. Warm up a big stack of corn tortillas (much more flavor than the

wheat flour version) and our taco feast is good to go. Of course you can add chopped green onions, cilantro, sour

cream, salsa, or hot sauce as you see fit. Let each person assemble for themselves. You can probably serve at

least 8 with the amount of food we’ve made.

These spicy pork tacos are tender, tangy, and delicious. Good luck not stuffing yourself with them. Nice work

everyone! I’d love to hear what you’re cooking these days. What ingredients have captured your

imagination? Send me an email to isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking Local in

the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.

 

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