Culinary Passport: Mexico

WeeliciousMexican food.

All day.

Every day.

That’s how my family feels. Guacamole, tamales, tacos, salsas, enchiladas…as long as it fits into the realm of Mexican culture, we’re eating it. You can bet the bank on that. Matter of fact, we love Mexican so much that we decided to take a private cooking class the last time we were in Mexico. Si, si, si!

One of my favorite Mexican dishes is Carnitas; specifically, pork cooked slowly in low temperature oil. Tender, stringy and sticky…it belongs at the the very top of the Pork Food Pyramid (even higher than bacon.) If Santana had a Mexican food baby, it would be called Carnita. Yes, it’s THAT good.  It’s what I order at almost every Mexican restaurant I visit. Since I don’t have a deep fryer or ever want to use that much oil, I’ve never made it homemade. Ai yi yi.

Many people tend to think of Mexican cuisine as spicy, hot food. Yes, it can be but most authentic food, I’ve had, is not. Hot sauces and salsas are always served separately so you can adjust your own preferred level of heat. For example, take tacos el pastor from Tacos Tumbras in Acapulco. On a plate, you will receive shaved pork meat from a spit (something that resembles a “leg” of gyro meat) and a slice of pineapple on top of a tortilla. To your table, they serve a small rack of sauces…five or six…red, green, brown, pico, mild and hot. Your choice! Bueno! IMG_0453

With the thought of everything being spicy, parents sometimes refrain from exposing their children to the bliss which is named Mexican food.* For instance, here is a story from Catherine McCord, author of the family cookbook Weelicious.

Grandparents are the best! Thank goodness for the days when I’m totally overwhelmed and they come to pick Kenya up and take him on an outing. It’s been quite a while since my dad hung out with a 3 1/2 year old, but he’s really stepped up to the plate and surprised me with his love and time playing with his grandson. There have been adventures going to see trains, the zoo and even to the golf course (I think I know who has more fun on that outing). What always accompanies these little jaunts is a meal or two. Quite often when Kenya comes home he’ll have in his hand a half eaten cheese sandwich on the most dreaded, whitest bread I’ve ever seen. There have been trips to the car wash where I’ve later found a pack of half-eaten chewing gum or a 16 ounce bag of sugar coated gum drops (I let out a little squeal of terror when I discovered those). When Kenya came home 2 weeks ago holding a pulled pork taco, I looked at my dad as if he had two heads. “Really dad, you got a 3 year old a pulled pork taco”? I figured there was no way that Kenya would ever want something like that, but my dad had reassured me that this was Kenya’s doing, he had ordered it on his own (oh yeah, blame the kid)! To my amazement though, Kenya sat down at our table and chowed the entire thing in no time flat. He even asked if we could go get another one!

This all leads me to my obsession with recreating the pulled pork from our local taco stand (which is amazing, by the way). What do they put in it to make it taste so good? I finally realized it isn’t the ingredients so much as it’s the WAY they cook their pork. Soft, tender, juicy, it must take hours to get that “fall off the bone” texture. I don’t know whether they use a crock pot, a slow cooker or just a cast iron pan in the oven, but I do know that I’ve now made this dish several times over the past two weeks (I use a slow cooker) and I can’t keep the leftovers around long enough to enjoy them for myself they disappear so fast. The best part is there is next to no work for me except to enjoy my family and the final results!

These Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tacos may not be the same as traditional Carnitas, but it’s now the preferred recipe at our house! Try it…I guarantee your children will be shouting “ole” as they stamp their Culinary Passports with having made a taste bud visit to Mexico.

*Taking your children to Taco Bell and calling it “mexican night” does not qualify as exposing them them to Mexican cuisine. No taco I ever ate in Mexico contained lettuce OR orange shiny shredded cheese. Just sayin’.

**Honest Blogger Found Here: Posting with no monetary compensation. Cookbook was gifted to me as part of the Stonyfield Yo-Getter program. Affiliate link may be included. As always, 100% my opinion. Any questions? My Disclosure Policy can be found here.
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