Tag Archives: tortillas

Recipe: Carnitas (Pork) Tacos

31 Aug

In Canada, some people might mistake these for tacos…

However, they are wrong.

In Mexico, the Southwestern US and restaurants who are savvy, you can get real tacos. The meats are traditionally grilled or slow cooked, the salsa and other toppings are really fresh and so are the tortillas. And when you’ve had a real one, you don’t ever want to go back to the kind made with ground beef and a packet of spice.

So how do you get real tacos if you don’t happen to live near a purveyor of such delicious things? Well, you have to make your own and really it’s not that hard.

I like to make pork tacos which are known as carnitas. I also make my own tortillas and salsa. And I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, that sounds really hard.” Trust me, if it was, I wouldn’t do it. I’m too lazy for that!

Putting all three recipes in one blog post would be a bit extreme, so check out my recipes for corn tortillas and salsa on different pages.

Carnitas (Pork) Tacos

1 large pork shoulder roast (sometimes called pork butt), cut into 2″ cubes
salt & pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 small onion, peeled & halved
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano**
juice of 1 lime plus 1 whole lime, halved seeds removed and juiced
2 cups of water
1 teaspoon

Throw everything into a heavy bottomed pot and simmer on low until tender (about 2 hours).

When ready to serve, add some pork and a generous ladle of drippings to a frying pan to crisp/caramelize the meat slightly.

This will make enough pork to feed a huge crowd but it freezes really well for future enjoyment. Just make sure to add some of the drippings to each dish of pork you’re saving.

Enjoy in fresh tortillas, with fresh salsa, lettuce, sour cream, cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime.

** You can use regular oregano but the Mexican kind has a slightly different flavour profile. I get mine at La Tiendita, a latin grocery store on Merivale Rd. near Carling. The entrance is actually in La Cabana restaurant. You can also buy fresh tortillas here if you want to wuss out on making your own.

Tips & Tricks: Homemade Corn Tortillas

31 Aug

I’m not a huge fan of flour tortillas unless they’re being used for some sort of sandwich wrap. They don’t have a lot of flavour, and the ones in the grocery store are kind of like chewy cardboard. A few stores carry commercial corn tortillas now, but I find the texture on them a bit weird too.

It might be because I’m spoiled by hot, fresh corn flour tortillas. They’re super easy to make and are WAAAY cheaper than store bought. For about $5, I pick up a bag of Maseca masa mix. It looks like this and is available at most large mainstream grocery stores. This bag will make multiple batches of about 10 tortillas vs. about $3.50 for 10 at the grocery store. Added bonus for celiac sufferers – they’re gluten/wheat free!

You’ll also need a large ziplock freezer bag, a flat griddle or a crepe pan and a tortilla press which can be obtained at your friendly local Latin market, some speciality kitchenware stores or online for about $20.

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Follow the instructions on the bag of masa – it’s 2 cups of mix, a dash of salt and 1 1/8 (ish) cup of warm water. Add the salt to the masa and stir before slowly adding the water. Combine the water and masa with your hands and keep adding water until you have a playdough like consistency and the dough sticks together. Depending on how humid a day it is, you may need to add more or less water than last time.

Take golfball sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. When all your dough is rolled, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out.

Put your pan on just a little over medium heat. It’ll take some fiddling/testing to see what the perfect temperature on your stove/griddle is but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

Take your freezer bag, and cut the zip portion and the sides off leaving the bottom of the bag so you have a rectangular piece of plastic with a fold in the middle that fits your tortilla press like this.

Place the ball of dough in between the two sheets of plastic and squish it between the plates of the press, turning it once or twice to get an even press.

Then pick up the plastic, open it and place the tortilla face down on your palm. Slowly peel away the plastic and then carefully flop the tortilla on to your hot griddle.

Cook it for 30 seconds on one side, then flip. Cook for 30 seconds on that side and flip again. Cook on this side for about 1 minute. At this point the tortilla should puff up in the middle like a balloon. If it’s not, your grill might be too hot or too cold.

If you’re not getting some browning, it’s too cold. If you’re getting singeing, it’s too hot. Don’t worry about getting a perfect ‘balloon’ each time. Even if they don’t get super fluffy, they’re still good.

Keep the finished tortillas wrapped in a tea towel in a covered casserole, or in a tortilla warmer like this. I also use mine to keep pancakes warm when I have company!

All in all, it should take you about 15 minutes to make a batch of tortillas. If you get a helper to warm up the pork, make the salsa and dice the veggies, you can have a fresh taco truck worthy dinner on the table in 20 minutes. Not too shabby!