Monday, June 3, 2013

Easy and delicious - homemade flour tortillas with pulled pork (carnitas)

One of the things I miss most from our years spent living in Los Angeles is the easy access to cheap and delicious Mexican food. We have had minimal luck finding authentic ('Californian') Mexican food since coming home 10 years ago so we decided it was up to us to try and re-create the flavours that we miss so much in our own home.

One of our favourite taco and burrito fillings is carnitas - braised or 'pulled' pork - tender, juicy and more-ish. So I attempted to make my own version of carnitas based on a braised pork ragu recipe I found in an old Donna Hay magazine. The result was quite literally, finger-licking good.

The recipe itself is easy - but takes about three hours to cook. The best thing about the ragu is that you can combine it with pasta, mash, couscous or rice. So just freeze any leftovers and pull out on a night when you are feeling too lazy/ tired to cook from scratch. Reheat, throw some gnocchi in a pot and you are good to go.

I have also included the recipe for home-made tortillas. Once you have tried these, you will never go back to the packaged ones. I love making food from scratch and knowing exactly what goes into the meals I prepare for my family.  Authentic, simple and delicious. Enjoy!

Carnitas/ Ragu

A pot that can be placed in the oven and used over a stove. If your pot can't do both, do as I do and prepare in a saucepan and then prior to placing in the oven, transfer the food into an oven-proof pot.
1 kg of pork roast or pork neck
plain flour to dust the pork with
2 tablespoons of olive oil
150 grams of chopped pancetta
1 medium-sized brown onion - chopped
2 carrots - peeled and chopped
2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups/ 500ml of red wine (don't forget to taste it just to ensure it tastes ok - that's my excuse)
2 cups/ 500ml chicken stock
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
6 sprigs of oregano
Patience (it will smell delicous and you will want to devour it almost immediately)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
I chopped up my roast into 4 portions. Dust the pork in flour and give it a good shake to remove any excess.
Add the oil to your pot and heat. Time to brown the pork so pop it in- should take about 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Throw the pancetta into the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook for about 7 minutes on medium heat.
Follow this with the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the wine (again, I just take a quick sip to ensure it's still ok) and cook for 3 minutes - don't forget to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any food that may be sticking to the bottom.
In goes the stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and oregano. Give it a good stir and return the pork to the pot.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and pop it into the oven for 2 hours.
Once the two hours are done, shred the pork using two forks, return it to the sauce and get ready for some lip-smacking goodness.



3 cups of plain flour
1 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of vegetable oil (I use Rice Bran Oil)
1 can Spray-On Oil (vegetable or olive)

Mix all of the ingredients together. 
Roll dough into a large ball. 
Pull off palm-sized balls of the dough and either push into a flat, thin circle in your hands or use a rolling pin to do it. The key is thin and round. It may take a few goes to get it right - it took me a couple but managed to master it surprisingly early. 

Spray a frying pan with olive oil (or vegetable oil)
Place tortilla on the pan and cook until the familiar brown spots start appearing on the tortilla. It shouldn't take long at all so keep an eye on them and make sure they don't over-cook.
I wrapped mine in aluminium foil to keep them warm whilst the others cooked.

You can make a simple salsa of chopped tomatoes, coriander and red onion to make it even more authentic. My kids love to throw in some lettuce and cheese to complete the soft-shelled tacos.

I hope you give this one a go - it really is delicious.

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