Tuesday, January 21, 2014

coconut-lime pork tacos with black beans.

Right now, New York is in the midst of a blizzard named Janus (really who names these things?) which is leaving commuters to battle against sideways snow, great gusts of wind, and slush filled sidewalks.  I made it home (my toes are still frozen but I have high hopes feeling will return to them by the time I finish catching up on Girls) but not before thinking a great deal about moving to the west coast (California I still love you).  I will not do such a thing the number one reason being that fall in New York steals my heart, but don't think I haven't thought a great deal about it.   

While I can't experience sunshine beating down on my face anytime soon (I think April will be the earliest that will happen and even still that's a far ways away), I can shove tacos into my face, sit it front of a portable heater, and drink tequila which is almost as good as actual sunshine (once you're drunk everything is great).  

These tacos are a great winter dish for when you find your insides aching for summer (or at least some warmth). Nothing screams the tropics like ground pork combined with coconut! lime! pineapple! avocado! (I've become an avocado addict).  The spices add the necessary heat and warmth which is something I crave immensely this time of year.  Serve it lots of hot sauce and some tequila and lime and you basically have the beginnings of a really awesome winter party.  

Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans 
Recipe adapted from Food 52

When I initially read this recipe I thought the dish would bring together the world of Thai food and Mexican food onto a flour tortilla and it kind of does that but in a much subtler way then how you would imagine.  The coconut milk provides the subtlest level of sweetness but more importantly keeps the pork moist which in my mind is the most important thing. Being the spice obsessed person that I am, I upped the amount of spices in this dish to cater to my own tastes and flavor preferences.  I think for an entire pound of pork you can use the extra punch of flavors but adjust according to your own tastes.  

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2/3 cups coconut milk, stirred (full-fat recommended)
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 1 lime
2 cups or one 15 ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn or flour tortillas, for serving
1 large avocado, diced or sliced
Other recommended toppings: corn salsa, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese or cotija cheese, hot sauce 

In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pan, and add the cumin, chili powder, paprika(s), oregano, and cayenne. Let sizzle in the pan until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir well until the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the spices.

Add the ground pork to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks of pork and stirring occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through. Season with salt to taste. Remove any excess fat from the pan.

Add the coconut milk; simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the black beans, pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice and cook for an additional minute or two. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve right away, or cover the pan and let the pork gently simmer over low heat.

Using a slotted spoon, divide the ground pork equally among lightly warmed flour tortillas. Serve with lots of avocado and other toppings of your choice.

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