September 1, 2011

Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style & Austin-style Black Beans (The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off Series)



Consider me "schooled" by The Homesick Texan.  I've spent the better part of the past 39 years convinced that the distinction of "Best Mexican Food Outside of Mexico" belonged, indisputably, to my home state of California.  While I stand behind my amigos in the Golden State, my first week of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off has opened my eyes and mind to the possibility, no, the certainty that when it comes to Mexican food, Texas is one firece contender.


Lemme back this horse up a few steps...  A few weeks back, Heather of Girlichef lassoed up a team of talented food bloggers to take part in a cookbook review and cook-off sponsored by Hyperion in anticipation of the release of The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain.  Over the next four weeks, the twenty of us knife wielding, tortilla slingin' culinary vaqueros will be taking on a sampling of The Homesick Texan recipes and sharing the experience with our readers.


We'll be reviewing the cookbook in week four, but suffice to say that this cookbook not only has me sheepishly rethinking my California food snobbery, but has me fairly convinced that I need to revise my systematic discrimination against glossy full-color cookbooks as well. This book not only "walks the walk", but lives up to its promise by making me homesick for Texas when I've never really spent more than a day there in the first place.  I can't remember the last time I leafed through a cookbook and felt moved and excited to try each and every recipe within its pages.

This week's Cook-off assignment was to try the Pork Tacos (Dallas Gas Station Style), accompanied by Austin-style black beans.  The tender bits of smoky, sweet and spicy marinated pork needed nothing more than a corn tortilla and a toss of chopped cilantro and onion to bring a smile to my face and evoke memories of the carne adobada served up at my favorite little hole-in-the-wall Mexican eatery.  None of that seven-layer baloney here.  This dish needs no embellishment or adulteration.

The Austin-style black beans were a nice compliment to the tacos, but are by no means merely a supporting player.  The dish could well stand alone as a deeply flavorful, smoky and piquant vegetarian chili.  I enjoyed a bowl for lunch the next day with a generous squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro and onion.  I'm excited to share this dish with my vegan and vegetarian friends and will definitely be making it again for my family.





Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
4-6 servings


FOR THE PORK
4 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 lbs. pork shoulder (I started with a 4lb. bone-in shoulder)
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Small pinch of cloves
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

FOR THE TACOS
6 jalapeño chiles
Tortillas, either corn or flour
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lime, cut in wedges
Salsa, for serving


1. In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

2. While the pasilla chiles are soaking, rinse the pork and trim the fat. Cut into half-inch-size pieces.

3. Once the pasilla chiles are hydrated, drain and rinse the chiles. Place the chiles in a blender along with the chipotle chile, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, orange juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Blend until a smooth puree forms. Taste and add salt.

4. Toss the diced pork with the chile puree, place in a non-reative container, and store covered in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

5. Before cooking, let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. To cook the pork, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium. Fry the pork in the skillet for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. While the pork is cooking, place the jalapeños under the broiler and cook for 10 minutes, or until blackened, turning once. Serve pork in warm tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions along with the roasted jalepenos, lime wedges, and salsa on the side.

NOTE: Ask your butcher to cut you a 2-pound pork shoulder roast if one is available. Avoid using pork tenderloin, as this is a very lean meat and won’t taste quite as good.

Austin-Style Black Beans
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
8 to 10 servings

1 pound dried black beans
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle chiles, in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup lime juice
salt, to taste


1. Rinse and sort through the beans, removing any stones and shriveled beans.

2. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and then cook for 15 minutes.

3. Drain and rinse the beans in a colander in the sink.

4. Return the empty pot to the stove and on medium-low heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and while occasionally stirring, cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lighter, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for 30 more seconds.

5. Return the beans to the pot, along with the chipotle chiles and 1/4 cup cilantro. Cover with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours.

6. After 1 1/2 hours, add the remaining cilantro, cumin, tomato paste, and lime juice. Taste and add salt. Cook uncovered for 30 more minutes or until beans are tender (the ultimate cooking time will depend on the freshness of your beans). When done, smash a few beans against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the broth. Stir the pot and serve.

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This is a list of all of the bloggers who are part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off :


Heather - girlichef 
Denise - Creative Kitchen
Brandy - Nutmeg Nanny
Bonnie - Sweet Life
Christy - Fudge Ripple 
Jenn (me) - Rook no.17 

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 *This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*

17 comments:

  1. You pleaded your case very convincingly, if Texas doesn't forgive you, then they're crazy ;) ha ha ha... seriously, your tacos made me regret stopping by before I had breakfast. They look fantastic, as do those fabulous beans! So glad you're a part of this delicious fun =)

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  2. Hi Jenn,
    As a native Texan we are delighted that you now taking a second look at our food. I really enjoyed your post, the tacos and beans look amazing. We just had them here at the cottage and they are delicious. It is fun cooking with you and thanks for sharing!
    Miz Helen

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  3. Oh I need to try these recipes. Sound so yummy!!! LJ

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  4. Being a California girl myself, I understand your food snobbery when it comes to Mexican food. But I agree, this book has proved us wrong. :P

    Your tortillas look gorgeous! Did you fry or bake them so that they'd get that golden hue?

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  5. I'm a Texas gal. Bet you didn't know that? Well, sort of. I was born in Austin, but like you, I am a Californian through and through. Though that cookbook could have me singing a different tune. Can't wait to try this. I have black beans and pasilla chilis at home. ~C

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  6. It all looks great...I had the pleasure of cooking this meal too and enjoyed it very much...I too am curious about how you cooked your tortillas.

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  7. It all looks great...I had the pleasure of cooking this meal too and enjoyed it very much...I too am curious about how you cooked your tortillas.

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  8. It all looks great...I had the pleasure of cooking this meal too and enjoyed it very much...I too am curious about how you cooked your tortillas.

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  9. I'm with you. I want to cook more than several recipes in this book. It's fabulous! So glad you enjoyed the meal as we did. Looks terrific.

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  10. I am soon to be going to California, so I will be sure to test out their Mexican food - just to make sure you are correct :) Great job on this meal!

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  11. jenn...you crack me up. you really should make up some t-shirts...you, on horseback--lasso around a tortilla--yo soy una culinary vaquero---yeah not sure about the translation (i took latin in high school)--i'd buy one :)
    glad to be cooking with you....and i agree this food is good!

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  12. Such a fun post! I totally agree with you--I have spent a handful of days in Texas for two separate work conferences but this cookbook made me a little homesick too. ;-) We don't get a lot of great Mexican food where I live so I am jealous of both California and Texas! Great to be cooking along with you.

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  13. This is a lot of fun - and I love that you talk about how one cookbook can change your food philosophy! :)

    Looking forward to our next adventure.

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  14. There definitely is a different style of mexican cooking goin on over there in Texas. Your tacos and beans look great! I'm so looking forward to cooking with ya'll :)

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  15. Yum! These sound fantastic. My family loves Mexican food. The cookbook sounds great too:)

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  16. tortilla slinging culinary vaqueros, love it!!

    happy to be cooking along with you, your post is delish!!

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  17. Oh my, those tacos sound A-Mazing! Gonna have to try them, and the beans too!

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