In the Mexican Kitchen

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It all started, as it often does, with a big chunk of pork.


Pork shoulder, that is — my favorite cut. It was on sale at the grocery store, so I bought it, thinking I might prepare something Mexican. Maybe carnitas, maybe chile verde, maybe cochinita pibil.

While I was there, I also purchased some chicken thighs and corn husks for a tamalada session — kids love tamales in their school lunches, and they make a quick and easy meal in the freezer.

I cooked and shredded the chicken, boiled the pork in preparation for carnitas, and gathered together the other necessary ingredients for my plan to unfold. And then the appointed morning came, and I went to work. It wasn’t intentional exactly, but I soon realized I was preparing four different Mexican dishes in a single morning. A full Mexican kitchen!



In addition to chicken and potato tamales and carnitas, I would make a red pozole — a hearty mexican soup — with the stock from the chicken and the pork. Plus, my friend Erin had gifted me a large piece of recently caught yellowfin tuna, the majority of which would become a ceviche.

Between all these dishes — save for the occasional sidetrip into the garden to dig holes for my wife — I spent the better part of the morning in the kitchen. I even threw in a roasted chile salsa, just in case. And the house smelled really good.



That evening, we would eat the ceviche and make some Baja fish tacos with the remaining yellowfin (resisting an 11th-hour urge for some Hawaiian poké). The tamales, carnitas and pozole would be for a later day (days).

I include here the recipes for both carnitas and pozole, since with one pork shoulder, you will be able to make both. It’s a two-fer! Carnitas is one of the best taco fillings. Pozole is one of the best Sunday morning hangover medicines. Don’t forget the Tecaté! (Pelo de perro, mi amigo…)


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serves tacos for many

4-5 lb. pork shoulder on the bone
1 onion
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Place pork shoulder in a pot to fit it comfortably, and cover with cold water. Add onion and bay leaf, 1 tbsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 2 hours.

Remove from heat. Let pot cool somewhat, remove pork shoulder. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve into another, smaller pot, and refrigerate over night. Pull pork shoulder meat from the bone, and cut into small chunks.

Heat oven to 350 degrees f. The following day, skip hardened fat off the stock and reserve. (NOTE: the stock will be your base for pozole, below. If you choose not to make pozole immediately, the stock can be frozen in a large freezer bag or tupperware.) Place pork chunks in a roasting pan and sprinkle liberally with salt. Spread the meat out, add fat from stock. Place in the oven and cook, tossing frequently in the melted fat, for about 30 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Remove from oven, strain away fat.

Serve for tacos with small toasted corn tortillas, chopped onion and cilantro, and salsa of your choice.

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Red pozole
serves hangover breakfast for many

2 quarts homemade pork stock (above)
2 cups chopped carnitas (above)
2 chicken thighs
1 very ripe tomato, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 dried ancho chiles, seeds removed
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 25-oz can hominy


lime wedges
sliced radish
chopped onion & cilantro
chopped jalapeño chiles
finely shredded lettuce or cabbage
dried oregano

Heat the reserved stock from the carnitas over medium-high heat. Add chopped carnitas and chicken thighs. Bring to a rolling simmer, lower heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove chicken thighs, let cool to touch, and shred meat from the bone. Return meat to the soup. Add hominy and tomato, and lower heat to low.

While soup is simmering, soak the chiles in 1 cup hot water until they are soft. Place the chiles and the water in a blender, and puree until smooth. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add garlic and cook, stirring, from 1 minute. Add chile puree, lower heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.

Ladle some of the stock from the soup into the chile pan and pour chile mixture back into the soup.

At this point, the soup can simmer for another 30 or 40 minutes. Or you can turn it off and refrigerate it, and simmer it the next day to let the flavors integrate.

Serve with garnishes and let each diner garnish it to their taste.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Apr 29, 2016 @ 02:47:22

    A very busy morning for you Sean! Yum!


  2. pal-O
    Apr 29, 2016 @ 03:13:06

    I have a great photo of you on a Sunday morning serving that breakfast at your home years ago. It’s a classic!


  3. Trackback: Taco, I Can’t Quit You | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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