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Kitchen Story: Tacos and Toffee. No, not Together. Don’t be Ridiculous.

May 24, 2011

Tacos. My childhood memories are of home fried tortillas, filled with slightly spicy ground beef, to which we could add chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese. I could eat multiples…and even liked them cold and often brought them to school, where they were a hot trading commodity which I would rarely part with, except for that ultimate dessert treat of the Lunchbox Set, a Hostess Fruit Pie.  I haven’t ever really tried to replicate those tacos, and actually haven’t ventured into the taco-arena much at all in my cooking. But something struck me on Sunday last and I thought a spicy pork taco, filled with wonderful accoutrements would be lovely. These tacos share one vital aspect with Mom’s…they are messy to eat and that makes them all the more delicious by association.

Put a pork roast on a baking sheet. Turn the oven to the mundane temperature of 350 degrees. Cover the roast with salt and pepper. Put it the oven for 2-3 hours. Remove. And just try not to eat all of it before you finish the rest of this recipe.  I dare you. The edges will be crispy and salty. The inside will be moist, just the right kind of greasy, and flavorful. It’s a test to see how much of the pork makes it into the sauce. But if you resist, you will be further rewarded with spicy, smoky handfuls of taco fabulousness.

The dessert bars are more like candy than anything else.  Like my sudden desire for tacos on Sunday, I was also struck with the need to make something in a pan that is cut into bars.  Brownies are the obvious and that usually is enough for me to move on. Anything with toffee in the name gets my attention, and then I noticed that there was no mixer involved – so it was intriguing. The bars are very chewy and very sweet and very rich.  I should rename them Very Bars. The good news is that you really can’t eat more than one at a time, so they should last a fortnight or so.

Pork And Chipotle Tacos

Bon Appétit  September 1997

Yield: Makes 4 servings

1 2 1/2-pound bone-in pork butt

2 tablespoons corn oil

2 large onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies

12 5-to-6 inch-diameter corn tortillas

2 15-to-16 ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained

1 1/2 cups chopped green onions

2 avocados, pitted, peeled, diced

Purchased tomatillo salsa

Lime wedges

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pork on baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until brown and very tender, about 2 hours. Cool. Shred pork.

Heat corn oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add shredded pork, cilantro and chopped chipotle chilies with their sauce; stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap tortillas in foil. Heat in oven 10 minutes. Stir beans in saucepan over medium-low heat until heated. Coarsely mash beans.

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Spread mashed beans over. Top with pork. Sprinkle with green onions and avocados. Serve with salsa and lime wedges.

Toffee Bars

From Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook

½ cup butter

1 cup oats

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup unsifted flour

½ cup finely chopped walnuts

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 14oz can EAGLE® Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 6 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter; stir in oats, sugar, flour, nuts, and baking soda. Press firmly on bottom of greased 13×9 baking pan; bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sweetened condensed milk. Over medium heat, cook and stir until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour over crust. Return to oven; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until golden brown. Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle chips on top. Let stand 1 minute; spread while still warm. Cool to room temperature; chill thoroughly. Cut into bars. Store tightly covered at room temperature.


From → Kitchen Stories

  1. A great pork butt always catches my attention, but when it’s salty and crispy it’s downright irresistible. Thanks for suggesting tacos as we approach the holiday weekend. This will be a great potluck dish. Rather, it has the potential … provided I can stop myself from devouring the entire pork roast before the main event.

    • Thanks! It works well with boneless pork shoulder roast as well if that is more readily available. I almost made one to shred into tacos and roasted another just to eat. On it own. In one sitting. Enjoy!

      • If readers aren’t familiar with lesser cuts, some names are used interchangeably. In some regions pork shoulder = pork butt = Boston butt. Bone-in gives extra flavor but can be more difficult to handle. I prefer the boneless roasts — no bones to slow me down when I’m pulling off those tender morsels of salty, roasted pork.

        Side note: You can use pork butt to make a fairly good facsimile of Hawaiian-style kalua pig. Just add two scoops sticky rice and a scoop of macaroni salad, along with lomilomi salmon if you happen to have some on hand.

        I love pigs. They are so versatile. And tasty.

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