Gringo Pete’s Tacos al Gringo

Gringo Pete. I first became a gringo in Cuba, on my ’round-the-world adventure on Semester at Sea. Since then, I’ve enjoyed bastardizing South American and Mexican foods, often referring to myself, (and only to myself these days), as Gringo Pete. And that brings us to my Tacos al Gringo.

I love tacos. I really love tacos al pastor – and who wouldn’t. Mr Raichlen is an absolute genius – and I am sure his tacos are to die for. Unfortunately for the tacos, I also love to take shortcuts, especially when my grill is buried in snow. And that is what ruins the “pastor” and makes these things full-on-gringo.. so here goes.

Tacos al Gringo (Pete)

  • 1 (about 1lb) pork tenderloin – I used garlic/pepper marinated from Tjoes
  • 1 can of Goya Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (always keep these things around!)
  • Dark beer – a porter or stout ideally
  • Enchilada sauce (another Tjoes item, but any “mexican sauce” will do)
  • Tortillas (I prefer taco sized flour – but its really up to you)
  • a slow cooker, or saute pan to hold the above

The Stuff on Top of your Tacos

  • Cheese – jack, muenster, whatever you want really
  • Lime slices
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Guac, Sour Cream
  • Other toppings – beans, onions, peppers, whatever
  • Some form of hot sauce

If your pork is not pre-marinated, give it a rub with some chili seasonings and some of the adobo sauce from your can of chipotles (maybe crack a second can), let that sit for an hour.

Preheat broiler for 10min.. and throw your pork on a baking sheet. Broil it on all sides – about 2min per – until it looks mostly cooked. This could be done in a hot cast iron pan as well, I suspect. Take the pork out, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for a while – go do something else, like shred cheese and stuff.  Also open your chipotles, and chop the living H out of them (you could blend them, but thats messy).

Turn your slow cooker on, and set to HIGH (or get your saute pan ready). After the meat has rested for 10-15min, cut it into tiny bits – its fine (and better) if its still pink.

Throw all those bits into the cooker/pan, as well as the obliterated chipotles and the sauce that they came in. This.. will.. pack.. a .. punch. I realized that with one strong whiff – so I poured half a Mayflower Porter into the pot. This is a (delicious) deep, somewhat complex brew – so it complimented the depth of the nuclear adobo sauce nicely, while adding a touch of sweetness.

To stretch things out further, I added a good long splash of the Tjoes Enchilada Sauce. That can really be anything you want – this was more of a “wow that Goya adobo sauce is friggin hot” move, so think mellow. Its really up to you how hot you want this.

Let this slop cook for.. an hour at least – 2-3 even better. The pork is going to tenderize and absorb the adobo concoction, so the more time, the better your pork.

Once you decide the meat is about ready, you need to warm your tortillas. Now – nothing.. NOTHING.. is better than grilling your tortilla over charcoal to warm it – but like I mentioned, the grill is in the middle of a new glacier here. You can throw your tortillas right on the oven rack (on warm), or, if you want “taco” shaped ones.. flip a muffin pan over and prop them up (you know, folded, like a taco) in the now upward facing muffin bottoms. Whatever you want to do – just get the tortillas warm.

Uh, then make tacos. Meat, cheese, some kind of veggie – slap some guac and sour cream on there and “bam”. Gringo.

 

 

 

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The Cape Cod Soul Photo a Day Subject Calendar

For the past 7+ months, my photo-a-day website has been fueled by the Cape Cod Soul Photo a Day group on Facebook – where we’re given a daily “subject” to shoot. The very talented Marcia Duggan started the ‘challenge’ – and it is really becoming quite a movement.

Since every day has a different “subject” – it occurred to me that a Google Calendar could help by sending daily reminder emails and/or popups on my phone. I created a shared calendar for this purpose – and anyone can add it to their Google account.

To do so, simply head over to the CCSoulPhotoaDay Calendar – and click on the little Google “chicklet”: calendar_plus_en  at the bottom right of the screen. From there, Google should guide you through the next steps. If it is not obvious, you can easily edit your Notifications (and mobile sync).

For more information on #CCSoulPhotoaDay, check out the Tumblr where monthly “challenges” are posted.

 

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Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Got chicken thighs, and don’t want to grill? Check this “recipe” out. For the effort to flavor ratio, its incredible. Salt, pepper, cook in pan. Move to oven. Cook more. Flip, eat, savor.

I paired the chix with some olive oil rubbed baked potatoes and frozen peas – absurdly simple, yet balanced meal. Zing.

Sophisticated enough for a Sunday supper yet quick enough for Wednesday’s dinner, this master recipe is all in the technique. Cook the thighs skin side down in a cast-iron skillet to render out the fat and make the skin as crisp and, dare we say, delicious as bacon.

Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs: Quick Recipes Recipe: bonappetit.com.

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Cleaning your Aluminum Baking Pans

I recently replaced my very, very beat up baking pans with some new Nordic Ware Half Sheets. Exciting stuff right? I am on somewhat of a mission to keep these things from getting as bad as my old ones. I was a little surprised to learn that my favorite cleaning tool – Bar Keepers Friend – is not supposed to be used on aluminum. Oops. Probably part of what killed my old ones.

There is hope, still – baking soda, those green “scrubby” pads, and some grunt-work can really remove the worst caked on grease.  Great use for that old baking soda that you know is in your cabinet, waiting to ruin your next baking project.

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Food Resolutions

One more note on my new found resolution approach. I realized that simple things can be resolutions as well. I’ve chosen a few for myself, to be tackled in the kitchen. These are my secondary resolutions – the measurable and “check it off my list” ones. Simple, plain old goals. No need to make them “resolutions” – but why not – they will be easily accomplished, and can be expanded upon yearly. So on that note – here goes:

  • roast whole chicken – somehow its always too daunting for me to tackle, yet the payoff is fantastic
  • build more quick, economical and balanced dinners – less “beige” food
  • believe in the slow cooker – it takes up a lot of space, but can produce great results with some thinking ahead
  • properly stock freezer – there should always be the makings of meals in there. meats and whatnot

Maybe I’ll add more. Who knows. But these are simple things that require little work – and once I get them figured out, they will be RESOLVED.  And hey, maybe I’ll write about them here.

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Resolving Resolutions

New Years Resolutions – notorious setups for failure. I am not a fan. But my issue is not the actual idea of resolutions – it is simply the manner that people choose to resolve. The all to common “lose weight” or “start a diet” are destined to fail.

Despite my preexisting opinion on the matter, I’ve decided to make some resolutions this year. But not these huge lifestyle changes that will be too difficult to hold up – I have a different approach. The main gist of it will be action. Its vague and means little, right? I’ll start small.. for instance – everytime I enter or leave a room – there’s something that could be cleaned up, organized, or thrown out. So I’ll do that. Not all at once, but when you consider how often you see such things – there are countless opportunities to take tiny actions.

Messes are inevitable – with a busy house, and just the way of things .. nothing can remain pristine for long. However, the longer you go without effort to keep it that way, the worse it gets, and the harder it is to maintain. Soon these little messes – old mail, those magazines you never read, the dust bunnies – pile up and climb into the back of your head. They chirp and squeak and gnaw on your brain, creating stress.

So this action – just taking an extra minute or two here and there to create a better environment – is my “resolution”. The end result is just “better”. Its not specific – and hard to say if it is even measurable. But it is improvement, so at some point I believe there must be a noticeable difference. Its not a nonstop cleaning spree – its just leaving a little less disaster everywhere I go. Better surroundings = better feelings = better everything.

I know I don’t have time to go to the gym, nor can I justify the expense. I can however, go for a quick run around the neighborhood, and have exercise off my list in 20-30 minutes. I don’t believe in diets – I just eat mindfully. Less bad stuff, more good stuff. No need to label it. Those aren’t resolutions to me.

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Party-Ready Margarita Recipes – from Saveur.com

Margaritas should not require “mix”. Usually mixes are full of awful ingredients, jacked up with sugar, and flat out kill the taste of a proper marg. Here are some great options from Saveur. Check them out:  Party-Ready Margarita Recipes – Saveur.com.

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