I absolutely love Mexican food, it’s become my new obsession. And pork will always be my number one choice of meat. Now I’ll be the first person to use a packet mix to season my fajitas for a quick and easy dinner (it’s one of my guilty pleasures); but you would be kidding yourself if you considered that authentic Mexican. So I started branching out using different chilli powders but came a little bit stuck when it came to looking for authentic Mexican recipes. A lot of them I came across seemed to be mixing different tins and spice mixes together which I’m sure can taste nice, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for.
For Christmas I asked for a book which I had read was meant to be one of the best for authentic Mexican dishes – Mexican The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arrote. It is a huge booked filled with different recipes from all over Mexico. Some of the ingredients aren’t going to be the easiest to come across, or may not necessarily appeal to you – grasshoppers and cactus anyone? You can find substitutes or similar alternatives for a number of ingredients though; for example the variety of fresh chillies aren’t readily available in the UK (well not where I live anyway!) so instead you can use dried chilles or chilli powders. Another simple alternative to queso fresco which is a common cheese in Mexico is feta. It is similar as is crumbly, slightly salty and is available everywhere.
I get my dried chillis, chilli powder and tortillas when at Borough Market from the Cool Chile Company stall. They sell a huge variety of Mexican cooking essentials. You can also order online from their website -http://www.coolchile.co.uk/
I really like watching Food Network; it is normally on in the background while I am writing blog posts. One program I like to watch is Diners Drive-ins and Dives (anyone else?) which is an American chef who visits restaurants around the country. I first heard of carnitas watching the program and thinking it looked delicious so I couldn’t wait to try it myself. People may think that Mexican food is all about spices and heat, but this recipe is far from that. It has no chillis in at all, instead has a delicious combination of herbs with a subtle orange flavour.
This recipe doesn’t require much effort at all but benefits from slow and low cooking which is perfect for a lazy weekend. This recipe definitely lived up to my high expectations! The pork was so deliciously tender it just fell apart. I served it with a tasty sweetcorn salad (recipe to follow) which added a little bit of chilli heat.
250ml vegetable oil
1.5kg pork loin cut into bite sized pieces
zest of 1 orange
small bunch of herbs (e.g rosemary, thyme)
salt and pepper
Flour tortillas to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the meat and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes until browned all over
- Remove the onion and pour in the milk and 250ml of water. Add the herbs and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Don’t worry it will look a little bit strange at this stage!
- Reduce the heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for 1½ to 2 hours until the liquid has evaporated
- Remove any herb stalks and serve immediately with warm flour tortillas