Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cooking with J: Pork Cecina Tacos, modified

I love to cook... not much to eat, but I love to cook. While I do not have cable, I try to catch cooking shows from time to time online or on PBS and I love the work of Rick Bayless, I've watched his show for years and everything he makes is something I want to make. The recipes I post will not be my creation, but I will always try to modify them to accommodate my own limitations.

Today I am going to cook a modified version of Pork Cecina Tacos.

Here is what I have:

2 Pounds of Pork Tenderloin
10 Garlic Cloves (peeled) ~ I just used one whole small garlic
10 dried Chile peppers ~ Any type will do. I used Hatch Chile Peppers
½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves 
½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of Salt
¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Pack of 30 Corn Tortillas, 6in in diameter

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The easiest part for me to start out with is tending to the garlic. Remove the cloves from the garlic and remove the skin ~ easiest way for me is to take a small knife, like a paring knife, and cut just the tip off the top and it makes it a lot less stressful to get it off and makes it less sticky. Place a skillet on the stove top on medium heat and brown the garlic for about 8 to 10 minutes until it becomes soft, then remove from the heat and set it aside while it cools. As you were cooking the garlic, take the peppers and slice them in half and dispose of any seeds as they really aren't part of the recipe. Once the garlic cools down, mince it up with your knife of choice and place those in the blender along with the ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Teaspoon of Salt, ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper, ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves, and ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon.

Since you're waiting for the garlic to cool down and you still have that warm skillet, place the peppers as flat as you can while facing down into the pan and press down on the peppers until they start turning a brownish/yellow color as they toast... I try to just cook about five of six halves at a time for about two minutes each, then remove them to a glass or metal bowl. Once they are in the bowl it is time to get your hands dirty! Take both of your hands, stick it in the bowl (preferably when the chiles have cooled down) and twist and turn them with your hands until the break down into little pieces, fill the bowl up with hot water and let them soak for 15 to 30 mins so set a timer --- you might have to use a heavy dish to keep the peppers submerged in the water and when the timer goes off, drain the excess water from the bowl ~ I used a pasta with really small slots to do my draining which should leave you with a moist pile of crumbled peppers. Now for the fun part: take the pepper goop and throw it in with your friends "The Garlic Goop Gang" that is already in the blender and mix it up until it is a smooth mix, if too thick you can add a teaspoon of water or two until you get a real nice paste.

Unfortunately, the pork tenderloin I bought was already cut into two pieces so I had very little to work with... but I won't fret! Try to cut off as much fat or silvery tissue from the meat... I ended up slicing up into indiscriminate sizes and pieces and laid down a nice circle back into my bowl, stacking up four layers but in between each layer I used a rubber spatula to spread my chile paste really thick and stuck it in the refrigerator for two hours to marinate and as we wait, we're going to make something else! To go with our Pork Tacos, you're also going to make Avocado-Serrano Salsa (a lot like the Avocado-Tomatillo salsa) and here is what you'll need:

4 medium-sized Tomatillos w/o husks
½ cup chopped Cilantro
2 Serrano Peppers
¼ teaspoon Olive Oil
¼ cup of Water

If you have the ingredients, this next part is going to be super easy. Chop everything up, put it in a blender and blender it until it's a liquid. That's it, nothing else. I'd recommend doing this part once you're close to removing the pork from the fridge, that way it will be fresh when you put it all together.
This is probably the most important step... cooking the meat. I recommend using a grill or an open fire as this is what I did. If you have a grill, turn the heat to medium-high and let it warm up for about 10 minutes then just go ahead and throw it on the fire, about 10-15-20 minutes on each side, remove it and let it cool down, pour on some salsa onto some warmed corn tortillas, place your meat on top of it, put it in your mouth and enjoy it!