Dinner

Sweet Potato Tacos with Blue Corn Tortillas

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Braised sweet potatoes make a fantastic taco filling. Use the filling on it’s own or as a, accompaniment to chicken, pork or beef tacos. Serve these tacos with the accompaniments below and homemade tortillas which are worth the effort! The flavor is sweet and “corny” and delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 2 tsp. cumin

  • 2 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 12oz. bottle beer (such as a lager or Modelo Negra)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Pickled Radishes

  • 1  jalapeño (thinly sliced)

  • 1 1/2 cups radishes, thinly sliced (one large bunch)

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 3 whole black peppercorns

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1 Tbls. sugar

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

To serve:

Corn tortillas, pickled radishes, shredded cabbage, guacamole, salsa verde, crema, cilantro and hot sauce …

The Pickled Radishes

  1. In a saucepan add white wine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes.

  2. Place jalapeños, radishes, garlic and peppercorns in a large wide-mouthed mason jar.

  3. Pour the hot liquid into the to the mason jar to cover the jalapeños and radishes. Cool then seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator for six hours or overnight.

The Sweet Potatoes

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, until onion is slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.

  2. Add the cumin, paprika and ancho chili powder and mix to combine.

  3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add about three fourths of the beer and gently boil sweet potatoes uncovered, stirring occasionally until beer reduces.

  5. Add more beer if needed and simmer, covered for a total of 10-15 minutes or until just tender and not mushy.

Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali.

Tortillas

Homemade tortillas are so tasty! They are worth the effort and fun to make. If you’re hosting a crowd, set up a tortilla station and let guests make them for you. If you’ve got kids, get them in the kitchen and have them make the tortillas. The picture above is tacos and tortillas made by my summer camp kids.

Makes about 10 tortillas

  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina - not cornmeal or corn flour. Blue corn masa carina can be found at Mexican grocery stores including Chavez Market

  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and ground cumin

  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)

  • 2 Tbls. olive oil or good quality vegetable oil

  • 1 gallon size plastic bag cut around the edges to create 2 plastic sheets

  • A tortilla press

  1. Combine the masa harina, salt, cumin, and Aleppo pepper in a bowl. Stir in the oil and then slowly stream in 1 cup of hot water until a dough forms. Knead until all is incorporated and smooth.

  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Heat a dry cast iron pan, grilled or heavy bottomed pan.

  4. Take small pinches of dough, about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into a ball then pat the ball into a disk. You can also roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic for 30 minutes and then slice the log into rounds.

  5. Place one plastic sheet on your press, add the disk of dough and then the second sheet. This will keep the tortilla from sticking. Press the dough to create a thin tortilla.

  6. Carefully place tortillas on the hot pan. Fry for about 1 minute (or less) on each side until the dough is cooked and the tortilla is blistered.

  7. Place in a tortilla warmer or on a plate and cover with a towel that has been lightly sprinkled with water.

Cured Pork Chops with Vanilla & Stone Fruit

Traditional brines are heavy on the salt and used to preserve meat but we are just looking for flavor and texture in this recipe. This brine, delicately sweet and infused with vanilla, is perfect with pork and summer stone fruits. Plan for about four hours brining time. Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 lbs. boneless or bone-in pork chops (I use Rockside Ranch pork chops)

Brine:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup kosher or sea salt (not fine table salt)
  • 2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
  • 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split down the center (optional but adds flavor)

Honey Vanilla Sauce (optional)

  • 4 peaches or equivalent amount of apricots or cherries
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or stock
  • 1 cup pork or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 Tbls. peach, apricot, or cherry jam to match your fruit
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked blacked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (optional)

To make the brine, stir the brine ingredients together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 1 ½ cups cold water and stir. Cool completely.

Trim excess fat from the chops and reserve. Immerse the pork chops in the brine making sure the meat is submerged and chill for four to six hours.

Remove the chops from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium high. Melt the reserved pork fat in the pan. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan. Save the vanilla bean for your sauce and discard the brine.

Tip: to sear any meat, once you’ve placed it in the pan, don’t be tempted to move it. The meat will stick but as the natural sugar in the meat begins to caramelize, it will form a crust. Once a rich brown crust has formed, flip the meat and finish cooking just until 160˚ for medium. Remove, place on plate and tent with foil to rest for ten minutes.

While the meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Peel the peaches by carving an X just through the skin. Drop them in the boiling water just until the X starts to curl, about 30 seconds. Drop the peaches in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal and cut into thick slices and set aside.

Make the sauce: Pour off most of the fat leaving a tablespoon or so. On low heat, sauté the garlic just until tender. Add the wine and reserved vanilla bean and simmer to reduce by half scraping up the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Add the stock, honey, and jam and simmer until the sauce is a syrupy glaze. Add the peaches and cook just until the peaches are warmed through. Turn off the heat and swirl in the cold butter. Season to taste. Serve the sauce over the Pork chops.           

  • If you’ve got leftovers, slice the pork and warm it with the peaches and some BBQ sauce for a great sandwich!

*Recipe adapted from Nancy Oaks