The Pork Taco Challenge

pork taco
Recently my friend Dana at I’ve Got Cake challenged me to a cook-off of an old school classic with a bit of new school flair. A bit of the old “take a dish everyone knows and loves and make it a little bit our own”. Well, at least that’s what I think we’re doing. I didn’t really understand (or even fully read) the brief… was there even a brief? I do recall the phrase “there are no rules” being in there somewhere… or maybe I just dreamt that one too. We are posting this at the same time, yes, that was definitely in the brief!

Dana had thrown the gauntlet. And by that I mean I goaded her into it like a little brother, running down the street and taunting her every second of the way until she finally submitted and said I could play with her Barbie dolls and Californian Vacation doll house. Pulling her hair and, in later pre-pubescencey, the strap of her trainer bra.

I seriously would’ve made a great younger brother. Seriously.

Sometimes I think Dana likes conversing with me because I am like a weird red-bearded, skinny assed, white boy, interweb version of the younger brother she never had… or maybe she does have a younger brother, I don’t know. She does swear at me and says she hates me a fair bit though…

So what could I do to the humble pork taco to make it my own? Make the special kind of love to it down by the fire? Marry it in a Las Vegas cathedral ceremony conducted by a fat gay man in sunglasses (or maybe it was Elvis?)? Or force a Street Fighter-esque three hit combo of my favourite pork products into my face via this little rolled corn edible plate?

I’m going for the three hit combo, don’t be doubting. And I shall cook it on the fire, eat myself fat enough to be the next Elvis and be very gay about the whole situation, with out so much as a fashionable jacket (or something else a girl would wear) on my person, but just damn happy (Happy is what gay used to mean, you know?). See what I did there?… I didn’t think so…

These things were good. Really good. I was caught a little off guard by my family’s sudden embracing of the blood sausage and their forth with consumption of a good percentage of it, as normally I get to eat the blood sausage around here and no, that is not code for anything – just a comment about a grown mans’ love for the black pud.

I would also recommend giving the home made tortillas a try. They’re well worth the effort!

PS if you want to have a look at what Dana came up with (you should because it’s going to be funny and delicious, I don’t mind telling you) you will be able you see that right here.

This is called fore-play around here. Pork belly, morcilla and chorizo, and tomato and onion charring up for the salsa
This is called fore-play around here. Pork belly, morcilla and chorizo, and tomato and onion charring up for the salsa
Damn sexy
Damn sexy
This was sooooo damn good
This was sooooo damn good
When you make you own tacos aint nobody going to deny you're the boss
When you make you own tacos aint nobody going to deny you’re the boss
I really wish I could take better photos. I really do
I really wish I could take better photos. I really do
Pretty grass
Pretty grass. I gaurentee Dana’s photos will be a heap better than this

PLENTY OF PORK TACOS (for 4)

400g pork belly, sliced into 3cm thick pieces
2 morcilla, black pudding or other kind of ethnic blood sausage
2 smoked chorizo sausage
1 chipotle chilli, if you like it hot, very finely chopped
tacos, salsa picante, cabbage & apple ‘slaw dressed with a little vinegar, radish, sheeps feta, coriander and lime wedges, to serve

• Cook the meats just as you would normally cook those meats. Just remember the pork belly is going to take a lot longer than the sausages are they are already cooked. That’s some quality free advice right there
• Once cooked to your liking chop it all up. Get two knives out and do it like a crazy Asian chef if that makes you feel good about yourself. Chuck the chipotle in there too
• That’s it
• Get it on the table and make sure you get yourself a good heap of the morcilla before your kids get to it!

SOFT TACOS (you best believe I made my own)

3 cups masa harina flour
400(ish) ml hot water

• In a medium bowl, mix together masa harina and hot water until thoroughly combined. Turn dough onto a clean surface and knead until pliable and smooth. If dough is dry add more hot water
• Cover dough tightly with cling wrap (plastic film) and allow to stand for 30 minutes. If it dries out while resting, sprinkle with more water
• Preheat a frying pan to medium-high.
• Divide dough into 20 equal-size balls. Using a tortilla press, a rolling pin, or your hands, press each ball of dough flat between two sheets of baking paper
• Place tortilla in preheated pan and allow to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until browned and slightly puffy. Turn tortilla over to brown on second side for approximately 30 seconds more and then transfer to a plate. Repeat process with each ball of dough. Wrap tortillas with a towel to stay warm and moist until ready to serve.

Balsamic beetroot salad with fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs

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I sit back today, slowly winding down and reflecting on my week so far… and by that I mean I am in bed, sick, sore and whining like the small child who needs his mothers boobie. Dammit, I do need my mother’s boobie… Actually that would be a little sick, but probably encouraged in many hippy circles around these parts. I think what I meant to say was; I need the boobie of the mother of my children… Shit, that is still waaaaay too weird.

As I lay here, one thing I did actually think about was the beetroot salad we had for dinner earlier this week. I’m sure it didn’t make me sick…

It is true that it has been many times said in the kitchen that “you can beat an egg, but you can’t beat a root”. It is also true that you cannot beat Usain Bolt in a running race because he is really fast and he is also not you.

But the beetroot salad; We picked a lovely pile of beetroot from the garden this week, and it fell prey to a cracking salad of balsamic beetroot, fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs… I’m sure it could’ve been a slightly longer title if I had have thought about it some more… dot dot dot

...and the beetroot
…and the beetroot

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This was a rally good salad. Like, really good. It ticked all five of my salad requirements at the moment;

  1. Beetroot, fresh from the garden so it came with a certain amount of pride
  2. Quinoa, I can not say enough (well, I probably could but I guarantee you wouldn’t sit through it) about this grain
  3. Cherry tomatoes straight from the garden
  4. Herbs straight from the garden
  5. Other stuff
  6. Personality
  7. It taught me how to count

As you can well gather from this dodgy assed explanation of my salad-y faves at the moment, I got nothing. Nothing except this salad that is. Well, nothing except this salad, a panpipe and a pair of novelty trousers that resemble goat’s legs with little hooves attached. Looks like I’m heading back to Narnia again… damn that fucking wardrobe.

Balsamic Beetroot and quinoa salad (the short version of the title) for 4

10 medium beetroot with leaves, unless they are not very fresh, in which case use the leaves from something else. Probably not from your teenage son’s “South American tomato plant” in the backyard though

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup soft feta. I like Bulgarian sheeps feta

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved… or not

½ red onion, bruniose

1 cup each picked parsley and mint

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, plus a little extra

2 tablespoons castor sugar

Extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning

  • Trim the leaves from the beetroot and set aside. Cook the beetroot in boiling water until tender, about 20-30 minute depending on size. You can check them by inserting the tip of a knife and if it is soft inside it’s done
  • Drain beetroot and cut into 6 pieces. I don’t bother about peeling them if they’re this fresh
  • Sauté beetroot in a little olive oil for ten minutes, then add ¼ cup of balsamic and the castor sugar. Reduce for 5 or so minutes, until balsamic is thick and coats the beetroots. Season and set aside
  • In another pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add beetroot leaves. Fry on high heat for a few minutes until they start to crisp up a little. That’s crisp up, not burn
  • Now layer that salad up like the cover of a Women’s Weekly magazine circa 1981. Quinoa, beetroot, onion, leaves, feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs. Then hit it with a splash of balsamic, olive oil and seasoning
  • Magic