Thursday, May 31, 2012

That's a wrap

The wrap is a mainstay in our house. I usually do them with chicken or ground beef or turkey, cheddar and feta cheese, pinto beans, rice, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, mild and hot salsa, sour cream, and often, guacamole. BG likes cheddar, mild salsa, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce; OG likes meat, cheddar and tomatoes; Worldwide tends toward meat, feta and salsa; and I like the whole enchilada. The variety, as well as the self-directed assembly, ensures that everyone is reasonably happy with the meal, whether vegetarian, carnivore or other. I often make flour tortillas from scratch, which are remarkably easy to prepare, and also freeze well. The OG and I included our recipe in her 2nd Grade class cookbook; basically, flour, oil, water and salt. Knead briefly, divide into balls, roll into tortillas and bake, grill or fry.

These factors also make the wrap an ideal party meal, and, when I was asked to manage lunch for 30 as part of G-Lo’s 80th birthday weekend festivities, Worldwide and I decided to go Mexican. Since it was a special occasion, we opted for carnitas, slow cooked pork, pulled and covered with spicy tomato sauce, along with homemade salsa, guacamole, and a corn and black bean salad. It was easy to assemble the bulk of this menu in advance on Thursday and Friday. I reheated the meat and made the guacamole on Saturday at the party (although I had premixed everything but the avocadoes). For dessert, we served an assortment of small popsicles from locopops, a Chapel Hill small business, of which the most popular were the Mexican chocolate and the pomegranate tangerine. The seller who helped me select the assortment asserted that Green Tea was the most popular flavour, but our data did not confirm this hypothesis.

We used store bought flour and multigrain tortillas to make it easier, and the feedback was positive enough that I decided to share the recipe, which comes from America’s Test Kitchen (carnitas) and Rachel Ray (guacamole). For the party, I quintupled the quantities, and we took back a little guacamole, a bit of meat and a lot of corn salad, which I think was mistakenly interpreted by the guests as a condiment, rather than a side dish (a role it can also capably play).

Mix juice of one lime, 2 pinches of salt, ¼ cup sour cream, 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, and the flesh of 2 ripe avocadoes.

Trim 2 lbs pork butt of excess fat and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add to pot, along with one quartered onion, 3 smashed cloves of garlic, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 tsp salt. Add water to cover.

Bring to simmer and cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat until pork is tender, 75-90 minutes. Drain pork, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Discard onion, garlic and thyme.

Return pork to pot and shred, using a potato masher. It should easily come apart.

Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shredded pork, 1 chopped onion and ½ tsp dried oregano and cook, stirring often, until pork is browned and crisp, 7-10 minutes.

Stir in one 14.5 can of tomato sauce, 1 tbs of ground chipotle powder, reserved cooking liquid and two bay leaves. Simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Discard bay leaves and add salt, if necessary.

Serve alongside warm tortillas, with fresh cilantro, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, cheddar or mild feta cheese (which we like better than queso fresco), and fresh salsa.

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