Monday, September 25, 2017

Theme Night: Mexican Edition


So, if you haven't realized this yet, we like to do a lot of theme nights. Here are some great finds from our Mexican theme night that we had recently.




1 (3-1/2 to 4 lb.) pork shoulder, boneless and well-marbled
1 (12 oz.) bottle or can of beer or beef broth
Water, as needed
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. lard or vegetable shortening
Corn tortillas, for serving
Favorite toppings, for serving (salsa verde, diced onions, shredded cabbage or lettuce, pico de gallo, sliced radishes, fresh cilantro, guacamole, shredded cheese or crumbled cotija cheese, etc.)


Slice the pork into 2-inch chunks and arrange in a Dutch oven or roasting pan.

Add the beer (or beef broth) and enough water to barely cover the meat. Stir in the salt and the cumin. On the stove top, over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 300 degrees F. and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer the pan with the meat to the grill grate. Roast the pork, uncovered until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add a bit more water to the pan if most of the liquid has evaporated.

When the pork is tender, drain off any remaining cooking liquid and discard. Break the meat into bite-size chunks with a fork. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to three days ahead. Let cool and refrigerate.)

Add the lard to the pan and return the pan to the grill grate. Increase the temperature of the Traeger to 400 degrees F.

Let the meat "fry" in the lard until it is browned and some bits are slightly crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with the suggested accompaniments. Enjoy!

Source: Traeger Grills website. You can find the recipe here.

Notes: If you don't have a Traeger Grill, you could always slow cook the meat...but the flavor and texture of the meat won't be the same, of course.


Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)


1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 cup finely crumbled Cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ancho or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ears shucked corn
1 lime, cut into wedges


Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.

While coals heat, combine mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cheese, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir until homogeneous and set aside.

When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.

Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

Source: We found this on the Serious Eats website. You can find it here.

Notes: Holy cow, this was good. I could eat a meal of this and only this.



Mexican Chopped Salad



1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste, if needed

Tortilla Strips:

6 6-inch corn tortillas
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1 medium head romaine lettuce, chopped in approximately 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium bell pepper, diced in 1/4-inch pieces, any color
1/2 medium red onion, diced in 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 medium jicama, peeled and diced in 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, diced in 1/4-inch pieces
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
4 ears corn, cooked (if fresh corn is not in season, substitute 1 1/2 cups of sweet, tiny frozen corn, thawed)
1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus whole cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired



Combine lime juice, honey, cumin, garlic, and salt. In a slow, steady stream,a dd the oils, stirring continuously with a fork or small whisk. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.

Tortilla Strips:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Stack corn tortillas on a cutting board. Cut in half. Cut each stack of halves into thin strips, width-wise, about 1/4-inch thick.

Transfer tortilla strips to a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.


Combine corn and other salad ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Serve with tortilla strips on top or place a bowl on the side for people to garnish their salad as desired.

Source: The Cafe Sucre Farine. You can find it here.

Notes: This was fantastic even without the tortilla strips. This was such a light, fresh salad. Everyone loved it. It also kept surprisingly well the next day if you have any leftovers.


Vine-ripe Tomato Salad with Queso Fresco and Serrano


2 large round tomatoes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup queso fresco
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste


Slice tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick and arrange on a plate with the sliced onion. Place the sliced chile alongside the tomatoes and sprinkle the cilantro on top and around the plate. Crumble the queso fresco on top.

In a bowl, combine the oregano, oil, and vinegar and mix well. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top just before serving. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Source: Food Network, recipe by Aaron Sanchez. You can find it here.

Notes: Those serrano peppers do give this some heat, so if you don't like spicy stuff, eat around them! However, I thought this was absolutely fantastic. So delicious and such a great way to use up fresh garden tomatoes.

Pico de Gallo


1 medium tomato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


In a medium bowl, combine tomato, onion, jalapeno pepper (to taste), cilantro, and green onion. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Source:, submitted by grneyedmustang. You can find it here.

Notes: Poor Mom. After all the work to make this, she forgot to set it out at our family dinner, so none of us got to partake, and I didn't get to take pictures. I'm sure it was fantastic though!