Tacos are time-starved cooks’ best friends. They are easy to put together, make use of any leftovers, beef or poultry, and are kid-friendly.
This recipe uses leftover pork from a pork loin. You can reheat the pork loin and shred or cube it. The highlight is enhancing the flavor of the leftover pork with ancho chili powder. You can use whatever chili powder you have on hand, but ancho has a mild smoky flavor.
You can prepare a lot of the ingredients in advance and bring them together at the last minute. Instead of topping these with a salsa, although you can, make a simple pico de gallo.
Similar to a salsa, pico de gallo is more relish-like and can be made with a variety of chopped ingredients. Typical ingredients include white onions, chili peppers and cilantro with seasonings.
But you can use bell peppers, and jicama for crunch. I typically season my pico with salt, pepper and a few pinches of sugar. A few dribbles of white vinegar, canola oil and lime juice bring it all together.
Serve these tacos on soft or fried (see recipes) corn tortillas. Top them with condiments such as shredded or chopped radish, shredded cabbage, cilantro or diced avocado.
You can top them with cheese if you like, but try something different like asadero (Munster is a good substitute), chihuahua (similar to cheddar) or queso fresco, a somewhat salty crumbly cheese that’s similar to feta.
PORK TACOS WITH PICO DE GALLO
Serves: 4. Preparation time: 30 minutes, total time: 45 minutes
These tacos are especially tasty served with just the Pico de Gallo. You can also top them with chopped cilantro, diced avocado and your favorite Mexican-style cheese.
For the Pico de Gallo:
2 teaspoons canola oil
1⁄2 cup finely chopped white onion
2 plum tomatoes, cored, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled, minced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the pork:
2 teaspoons canola oil
21⁄2 cups cooked leftover shredded or cubed plain or lightly seasoned pork loin roast or chicken
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
8 corn or flour tortillas, heated (see below)
1 cup shredded cabbage
To make the Pico de Gallo: In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients (canola oil through cilantro). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To make the pork: In a medium skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Season the shredded leftover pork (or chicken) lightly with salt, pepper and chili powder.
Add pork to the skillet, saute it to heat through.
Divide the pork among the tortillas and serve topped with shredded cabbage for crunch and Pico de Gallo. Garnish with lime wedges.
To heat tortillas, wrap them in slightly damp paper towels and place on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds.
You can also fry the corn tortillas in oil. Here’s a method adapted from the September issue of Everyday Food: Heat 11⁄2 cups of oil in a heavy skillet to 350 degrees. When hot, add corn tortilla and fry about 15 seconds per side. Using tongs, fold the tortilla in half — it should still be pliable — pressing it to the bottom of the skillet, and fry 25 to 30 seconds. Turn over and repeat on other side.
Per 2 tacos: 278 calories (42 percent from fat), 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 22 g carbohydrates, 18 g protein, 354 mg sodium, 46 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber.
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