I was listening to a lady speak on the radio–I have no idea who it was because I only caught part of the conversation–and she talked about how ridiculous the idea of “authentic” foods really is. If we only want authentic foods we’d never change or try anything new, and how boring would our menus be?
I started thinking about how long I’ve been searching for an authentic taco recipe. Well, I’ve discovered it depends on the region of Mexico and in whose mother’s kitchen or taqueria you happen to visit, in order to find “authentic”. In other words, it doesn’t really exist.
Apparently, it’s like Italian food. It has taken me some time to understand that spaghetti with tomato sauce isn’t the only “authentic” pasta dish. My tastes as a child mostly favored southern Italian food, and they favored American Italian food even more so. The first time I was served pasta with a cream sauce I looked up and asked, “Where’s the sauce?” Cream sauces weren’t served in my great grandmother’s kitchen. I’ve since learned the more wealthy northern Italians served cream sauces.
A few weeks back, I cooked some so-called authentic “Tacos al Pastor” (shepherds style) from the cookbook Baja! Cooking on the Edge. I know there are several versions of this highly sought after traditional pork taco recipe. After following the recipe, I now know I will make some changes next time, and they will become Angelnina’s Authentic Pork Tacos.
Please let me be the first to say, this recipe is a lot of work. You will get a lot of tacos though! Although these were good tacos, I wasn’t crazy about them, but Mark loved them and took them in his lunch everyday for a week. Mark is only half Mexican (not “authentic” Mexican), so I’ll have to cut his 4 star review down to 2 — Just kidding 😉
I’ll share the ingredients I used, if you want to make these, there are a million recipes on the net and you can compare to the ingredients I used.
Remove the seeds, stems, and ribs. Place broken pieces in your coffee grinder to grind into a powder.
In your blender combine : 3 cloves garlic,minced
1/2 c white vinegar
2 Tbsp achiote paste
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Puree to a paste, add ground chiles and puree several minutes till smooth.
Heat oil, cook chopped onion and add chile paste
Paste should be thick
Cut a 4 lb boneless pork shoulder into 3/4″ lengthwise slices and cover with paste on both sides of slices, then marinate in fridge for 6-12 hours (i recommend 12)
After marinating, slice up a fresh pineapple and place on meat slice.
These can be cooked in the oven or on the grill (I recommend the grill).
After using oven method
Now, let’s make a HOT salsa.
I’m NOT kidding, this is HOT. BELOW: Salsa de Chile de Arbol
Red hot with a little vinegar and salt
First, dry roast your garlic on a piece of foil in a cast iron skillet, keep turning it until it is blackened in places and the interior is soft (about 7 minutes)
Start with about 30 dried chile de arbol
Seed them (wear gloves!!!) and place in a blender
Process till pulverized.
Add garlic, 1/3 cup water, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Scrape into a bowl and add 1 tsp vinegar
Let stand 30 minutes, taste for seasonings
If you want it hotter, leave the seeds in.
Mine turned out HOT HOT HOT, and I swear I can eat very hot foods.
Let’s move on to Baha’s “Naked Guacamole”
These tacos aren’t normally served with guacamole, but I had an avacado and I love guacamole.
I cut the recipe in half because I only had one avacado.
2 perfectly ripe Hass avacados (mine wasn’t ripe enough–not a good idea)
salt, lime juice, roma tomato, white onion, and cilantro (I have an aversion to cilantro, so please yourself)
I always keep the pit in my guacamole because it helps keep it from turning brown too fast.
The hot sauce is on the right. I only needed a few drops.
Don’t forget the corn tortillas!
The finished product minus cilantro.
Next week, I’m going to make her chicken tacos, and I will be grilling.