Monday, April 19, 2010

Loco Tacos (and a borrowed recipe)

When this past weekend began, I was wanting some pasta and so was my husband. I was leaning towards spaghetti and meatballs, but then a recipe caught my eye. It was completely different from spaghetti and meatballs, and so worth testing out for the blog.

The recipe came from Spork or Foon. It's a simple combination of tagliatelle, white truffle oil, cheese, and mushrooms and topped with a poached egg. The idea was that the egg on top would give a carbonara-like texture to the pasta without the fuss of timing the mixing of your raw eggs into the dish properly (or cheating and using cream). It was a radical change from my usual pasta dishes, and it would dirty far fewer dishes than spaghetti and meatballs would - a plus on a casual Friday night.

I stuck to the recipe for the most part. I tossed cooked tagliatelle with white truffle oil and parmesan. I didn't just sprinkle the truffle-like shavings of portobello mushrooms on top. I mixed them in with the oil and the cheese.

I made one other change to my portion of the dish as well.

I added some prosciutto that I crisped in a pan and crumbled on top. This recipe is supposed to be carbonara-like after all and carbonara REQUIRES PORK (unless you're my husband).

Anyway, on to a new week, and a more original recipe.

Have you noticed lately that tacos have become upscale?

Tacos were my first introduction to "Mexican" food. I remember as a small child loving those taco kits where you had seasoned ground beef (seasoned via the enclosed packet) in a hard shell that always broke and decorated your shirt when you bit into it. As I grew older I discovered Tex-Mex restaurants and learned about burritos and chimichangas and nachos. Tacos seemed somewhat pedestrian - unless they were tacos de conchita pibil that were a staple at most local Mexican restaurants. I had a recipe from one of my beloved Frugal Gourmet cookbooks that used a ropa-vieja-like beef recipe wrapped in a flour tortilla, but it bore little resemblance to what I thought of as tacos (which I suppose was Jeff Smith's point).

Now it seems like tacos are everywhere. They're not the crunchy things from a kit that I grew up with. They're not the bulky tortilla-encased cooking experiment from former PBS stars. These are fresh and light creations, using just a few simple ingredients, wrapped in a corn tortilla - and yes, they are Mexican.

These days tacos are everywhere. There are taco trucks in every city. Little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall taco joints are cropping up in my neighborhood and other nearby communities. Tacos aren't just pile of seasoned group beef with iceberg lettuce and bottled salsa, but now also contain chorizo, pork, tongue, and in the case of one restaurant I know of in the city, grasshoppers.

This month both food magazines I subscribe to, Eating Well and Food and Wine both had taco recipes in them.

Combine that with certain blogs that keep the taco craving going (when she's not making me crave pie), I was really thinking I needed some tacos, fast. I was originally going to make my chipotle chicken and pinto bean tacos, but I decided I needed a change.

I thought pork tacos* would be a nice idea with chunks of avocado and tomato. The key would be how I would season them. I thought citrus juice would be tasty with maybe some red onion and cilantro.

There was just one problem. When I arrived at the store, I found no cilantro! I didn't know what else to use. Then I spotted some greenery in the produce case.
I went a little crazy and bought some mint. I love fresh mint. I combined it with red onion, a jalapeno pepper, fresh orange juice, and fresh lime juice. I used some of this to marinate my pork and the rest I used as a dressing for my tomato and avocado.

The suckers would not stay closed for the photo! They were delicious though.

Slightly Loco Tacos

1 pound pork loin, cut into small chunks
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tsp orange zest
2 Tbl chopped fresh mint
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
Corn tortillas

Combine juices, zest, onion, pepper, mint, salt and oil. Reserve 1/2 cup. Place pork chunks in remaining marinade and let sit for an hour in the refrigerator.

Take a dance break. Your tap teacher will thank you.

Remove pork from marinade, place in a pan, cook the pork chunks for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Mix avocado and tomato with remaining 1/2 cup of dressing. Mix in cooked pork.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds each. Place the pork mixture in as many tortillas as you can stuff into your face, roll up and enjoy!

*So this is where you ask, "What about Sir Pickypants?" For him I reserved another 2 Tbl of the dressing and tossed it with some thawed frozen, pre-cooked shrimp in a pan just to warm them a bit. The shrimp were mixed with the tomato mixture.


The Duo Dishes said...

Love that egg on top. Neither one of us has poached an egg, but we could easily fry that baby and slide him on top! Thanks for sharing your take on the recipe.

Bellini Valli said...

Everything sounds delicious!!!

Sue said...

Nice recipes. That is soooo funny that we both had tortilla cravings at the same time. Those look awesome. You were smart to use mint. I think folks that don't like cilantro (poor things) use mint alot.

Sue said...

PS That menu from Galaxy Global Eatery looks amazing!!!!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love tacos. But you obviously knew that. We actually had chipolte enchilada lasagna last night!

Now I want tacos. Good thing I cooked extra chicken...

The Blonde Duck said...

A upscale taco truck just opened up where I live--, right after you posted. It''s hilariouos watching yuppies flock to a Airsteam for gourmet tacos.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

DD- The key to a good poach is to add a little vinegar to a water, bring it to a boil, then take it down to a simmer than slowly slide in the eggs. You will have to practice a few times before you get it right. Don't be discouraged.

Val - Thanks.

Sue - Galaxy menu looks interesting, but the food is lacking in flavor. At least that's what my experience was a few years ago. They aim high and miss.

Emily said...

Oooh the tacos look so good! I love, love avocado.

You should've called these Cuban Pork Tacos. Orrr mojito pork tacos! Yes!

katiez said...

First - loved the poached egg (I like crispy Prosciutto, too) - poached eggs on anything!
Second, tacos, eh.... haven't had one in yonks - and then it was the crispy, fast food kind. Must look into this craze....

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Emily - Mojito tacos! Yes! With the citrus and mint that's exactly what they were. I should have put some rum in the marinade!

Katie - Definitely find a way to get some taco on. It's a fun food.

Tricia said...

The best tacos that i can imagine ever!..Can't wait to try this over the weekend. My kids will surely love this