Thursday, November 1, 2012

Carnitas Tacos (sort of)

Tuesday is taco night at our house.  This week we had a gaggle of people over, so I continued with our tradition of Tuesday Taco night with a little extra food.  

Normally, I make either a meat filling or refried beans as our base.  This week, I made refried beans, meat filling and pork filling.  

As I was getting ready to make the pork, my husband requested that I go to the store and get a pork roast.  I told him I was going to use pork chops.  He began to object, but then I asked him to give me a chance to do it my own way and to see how it turned out.  I can't remember the exact way it played out, but that's the gist of it.  He didn't know that I'd been using pork chops instead of pork roasts for a while.  

It turned out well.  There was only a tiny bit of the pork left after the meal that my mom scraped together into a tupperware because she didn't want to waste any of it!  

For the meat, I brown 1 lb. of ground beef with 1/2 yellow onion, minced or chopped, and 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced.  I keep a jar of minced garlic on hand to make things quick (BJs or Costco is the cheapest place to get this).  When it is all cooked through, I add 1- 8 oz. can of tomato sauce.  Then sprinkle cumin, chili powder, and oregano over it.  Stir to mix.  

For my taco shells, I put a little oil (2-3 Tbsp)  in a nonstick frying pan.  My mom used to do this when I was a kid.  Heat up the oil in the pan.  Place the corn tortilla in the pan.  Little bubbles should surround the tortilla right away (but you don't want it too hot).  Let it fry for a few seconds.  Then, turn over with tongs.  Use a wooden spoon  in your other hand and the tongs to gently fold the tortilla in half.  You want to be careful not to break the tortilla as you fold it.  Let one side crisp up and then flip over to crisp the other side.  Place on a paper towel lined plate when done.  

For the pork filling (which got the best reviews of the bunch), I used boneless pork chops.  I have found that you can get these on sale for less than a pork roast goes for and they work great in a crock pot.  I trim off the fat off the outside of the chops because then I don't have to worry about getting it out of the crock pot when I'm ready to shred the pork.  

First, brown the pork chops in a little oil in a fry pan until they are lightly golden on each side.  Then, place the pork chops in a medium crock pot.  I used 2 lbs. of pork chops and this crock pot.  Add all ingredients from this recipe to the crock pot:  Actually, for 2-3 lbs. of pork chops, I added half of the sauce ingredients to the crock pot which was just right.  When I'm making BBQ beef or BBQ pork, I use a full recipe of sauce and 3-4 lbs. of meat (and serve it with grated cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and buns).  Depending on how thick the pork chops are, this recipe can be fixed in 3-4 hours.  On Tuesday, they cooked in 3 1/2 hours on high in the crockpot I used.

On the side, we had sliced olives, minced red onions, chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa fresca/onion salsa, cholula and Tapatio, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.  

I need to be honest and admit that my kids don't love tacos.  But, my husband and I do, so this is just one of those meals that I make every week.  They like some combinations of fillings quite well, though.  Unfortunately, they each like a different one, so I can be assured that each week 1 of my 3 might object.    But, they eat their tacos and I am hopeful that they will acquire a taste for them. :)  The refried beans are nice because the vegetables are already in them (without the kids knowing).  

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