Hello Foodies! Welcome to another instalment of ‘Make your Home a Restaurant’, or perhaps a lovely beach shack. This time we’re going to make some amazing tacos. It may look like a daunting list of ingredients and it is one of my more complicated looking recipes. However, lots of the elements are repeated in different places so you won’t need to buy loads. Believe it or not, I made this mainly out of a combo of things I happened to have in, as none of it is particularly hard to get. Much of it is made from store cupboard essentials (am I starting to sound a bit like Nigella?). If you don’t have a particular spice or something here, it’s likely it’s not essential, or can be replaced by something similar. For example, if you don’t have chipotle flakes, normal chilli flakes will do. But if you can get chipotle it will make it that bit more Mexican! Same again for the coriander. Fresh is best, but if you don’t have enough, then use dried in the cooking. Or, if like a lot of people, you can’t stand coriander, ditch it or use the less authentic parsley or spring onions to bring a bit of freshness to the dish. And of course, you could buy the tortillas if it’s too much of a faff to make them. That’s what I would usually do! Having said that, this is the first time I bothered to make them, and they are very easy. Plus, they do just taste better! It’s like any homemade bread, it tastes fresher and makes you feel all warm and happy inside. The same recipe could be used with a curry for a chapati style flat bread too!
In terms of the time this dish takes, it’s a slightly longer one. However, we’re all still in lockdown for now so is there any better time to try?! Marinade your meat overnight and cook it low and slow for the most delicious results. If you do all this, buy some Mexican beer (I suggest Pacifico Clara or Modelo) and find a YouTube video of a lovely beach in Mexico, then you won’t ever need to leave your kitchen/living room again! So, onto the recipe!
N.B. Look down to the onion recipe in advance so they have time to pickle nicely!
Ingredients for 4 People
- 800g Pork Cheeks. Can easily replace this with equal amounts of other meat that’s suitable for slow cooking. (For veggies, I think you could use aubergine or jackfruit well in this, but you might want to reduce the cooking time, so it doesn’t turn into mush – I haven’t tried it yet!)
- 1 Can/Bottle Lager Beer
- 1 Stockpot (I used Chicken)
- 1 Large Lime (Juice)
- 1 Large Onion (Rough Diced)
- 1-3tsp of Chipotle flakes (if you have a dried ancho chilli this would be ideal)
- 1 Whole Fresh Chilli (Seeds out if you want to reduce the spice)
- Handful of Coriander
- 2tsp Paprika
- 1tsp Cumin
- 1tbsp Honey
- 1tbsp Sugar (Might need slightly more/less)
- 1tbsp Olive Oil
- 1-2tsp Cornflour diluted in Water/Beer
- Start by marinating the meat in a combination half the following ingredients: lime juice, chipotle flakes, fresh chilli, coriander, paprika, cumin, a good pinch of salt and olive oil.
- Rub the meat well with all these delicious elements before putting in a Tupperware and leaving for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
- Treat yourself to a nice drink after all your hard work.
- After the meat is well marinated, take your lidded pot (I was using a slow cooker so the pot from that) and put it on your hob at a high heat.
- When the pot’s nice and hot, add the rest of your olive oil and then your marinated meat.
- Fry this for a few minutes until the meat is well-browned. You want to get a bit of caramelisation from your delicious marinade.
- Add the honey to emphasise the caramelisation before quickly adding the beer to stop things burning.
- Keep this on the high heat for a couple of minutes while you add the remaining ingredients, apart from the sugar and cornflour
- Then either transfer to your slow cooker/turn the heat right down/put in the oven at 100-150˚c.
- Ideally, you then want to leave it in the oven or on the medium slow cooker heat for at least 4 hours. Keep the lid on for the first hour or two and then remove so the liquid can reduce.
- Keep stirring it every 30 mins or so and checking the liquid levels – if it looks like it’s starting to dry out, then put the lid back on and reduce the heat.
- After 4-6 hours, the meat should start to just fall apart and the liquid should be full of spicy flavour. If you still have excess liquid, transfer back to the hob and turn up the heat to simmer it down further.
- If it’s not getting thick enough, add a splash of the cornflour solution. Leave for a couple of minutes and add a bit more if needed. (Never add too much at once as it can make a huge difference very quickly!)
- At this stage you are almost ready to go! All you need to do is taste it and adjust if needed. This is where the sugar comes in.
- When I tasted mine, it was slightly bitter, so I added about 1tbsp of sugar and then it tasted bang on! You might also need to add a bit of salt or some more coriander. This is the point where you go with your gut and make it perfect for, well, your gut.
- You now have a beautiful, flavour-packed, slow cooked meat to be the centre piece of your taco!
The Salsa Rojo
- 2 Large Tomatoes
- 1-2 Whole Fresh Chillies
- 1tsp Chipotle/Habanero Flakes
- Small Bunch Coriander
- 1 Small Garlic Clove
- Boiled Kettle
- While your meat is cooking, make yourself a super easy homemade salsa rojo.
- Start by putting the tomatoes, garlic and the whole chilli into some well salted boiling water.
- Cook until the skin is peeling off the tomato and the flesh is nice and soft.
- Transfer into a blender/smoothie maker and add the rest of the ingredients with a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water.
- Blend and taste, adding more salt or chipotle to taste.
- If it’s too watery, simmer it down until it’s a thick but pourable consistency and leave to cool.
- You want this to be punchy, so don’t hold back!
- 250g Plain Flour
- 2tbsp Veg Oil
- 100-150ml Warm Water
- Pinch of Table Salt
- Mix the flour, oil and salt together in a large mixing bowl (use a fork to keep your hands clean for now).
- Then add most of the warm water before mixing by hand and starting to knead it (use one hand until it’s well mixed so you can add more flour/water if the consistency isn’t right).
- If it’s too dry and not combining well add the rest of the water and continue.
- Knead for around 5 minutes or until it becomes a lovely smooth ball.
- Leave covered for 15-30 mins.
- Cut into 8 equal pieces and roll into taco-sized tortillas (or push down on each piece hard with a flat-bottomed frying pan). They should be around 2mm thick.
- Get a frying pan on a medium-high heat and dry fry your tortilla for about 1 minute on each side. They should puff up and that’s when you flip them.
- You want them to have a little colour but don’t cook them for too long – they should be nice and soft!
- Keep them warm by putting them in the oven on top of each other at around 50˚c or even less.
- Take them out and load up as and when you want your delicious fresh taco! (IF you have leftovers, they will freeze well. Or put them in a sealed bag for few days and reheat when you fancy.)
- 1 Red Onion
- 2 Limes
- 1 Tin Black/Kidney Beans – Don’t Drain!
- 1tsp Cumin
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 Bag Pork Scratchings
- Chopped Coriander to Garnish
- 1 Ripe Avocado
Recipe for the Rest:
To make our tacos super luxurious and delicious, we are going to make a few great garnishes!
Lime Pickled Onion
- Just finely slice your onion (as fine as possible) and then squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and a big sprinkle of good salt.
- Toss well and leave to pickle for an hour or two and you’ll get an amazing pink garnish which adds a lovely freshness to your taco.
- Fry minced garlic and cumin in a splash of oil for a couple of minutes on a medium heat.
- Pour in your beans with their juice and salt well.
- Cook down the liquid until the beans are nice and soft and then mash with a fork.
- You should have a lovely thick, salty paste which we’ll use to line the tortillas!
- Roughly chop some fresh coriander.
- Slice a few limes for squeezing over.
- Slice your avocado and dress with lime juice to keep it from browning.
- Open your bag of porky scratchings, ready for a crackling crunch!
- Put your warm tortilla on a plate and spread the middle with your refried beans.
- Place your tender, juicy meat on top of the beans.
- Cover this with the spicy salsa.
- Dress your taco with avocado slices and pickled onions.
- Dot a few porky scratchings down the middle and get very over excited!
- Sprinkle with coriander.
- Crack open a lovely cold lager.
TUCK IN! You deserve this flavour sensation after all your hard work!
Wow, well for those of you who have stuck with me until the end, congratulations. I know this is a long recipe and that it sounds like hard work, but I promise you it’s worth it! I couldn’t stop smiling (even though I had juice dripping down every part of my face). The flavours are just so delicious, and it really did remind me of happy times I have spent in the taco capital of the world, Mexico! So please use your lockdown time to try this fabulous feast and let me know what you think! I am sure you won’t regret it! Right, I said this was going to be a short one, it seems like I lied… But I’ll stop there and let you get cooking!
Yours in food,