Category Archives: Mexican

Braised Oxtail Tacos

When I’m in on an open shift in the restaurant I usually get out of there between five and six in the evening. This will usually give me time to catch a film with the girlfriend, a few pints with the lads, an early night or a bit of experimentation in the kitchen. Rarely do I get to fit in more than that. So when leaving work I have to choose carefully. On this particular evening most people were busy, there wasn’t much on the big screen so I decided a bit of home cooking was in order. Wondering the aisles of the supermarket I saw that there was Oxtail on special. An evening to do a slow braised dish with an off-cut? Challenge accepted.

I decided to go with a recipe I had previously tried out in my time in Cooks Academy for a mock exam. Mexican Oxtail Tacos. The meat is succulent and rich enough that you only really need a small amount to deliver big flavour so it was ideal. How to get it to cook in time for me to eat without trespassing into the wee small hours of the morning? I realised recently that if you are cooking in a dutch oven, like this one, the meats cook a little faster. This is due to many boring reasons such as heat conduction, thermodynamics and the “Painting it red makes it go faster” trope.

The bottom line? What would normally cook in six hours cooks in three. Happy days.

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They like to watch me cook. It’s weird.

1 Whole Oxtail (about 800g)
2 Carrots
2 Red Onions
1 Red Pepper
2 Chillies
3 Cloves of Garlic
1Tbsp of Smoked Paprika
2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tin of Tomato Puree
1 Cinnamon Stick
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-Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.
-If your oxtail is still in one piece then roughly chop it into five or six segments.
-Get a large Dutch oven style pot onto a high heat with a little sunflower oil in the bottom.
-Add the oxtail pieces into the pan. We are going to brown them off really well before cooking all of our vegetables.
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-Finely chop up the carrots, the onions, the red pepper, the chillies and the garlic.
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-While you are chopping make sure to continuously turn the oxtail every few minutes to ensure the brown on all sides.
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-Once you are happy with the colour, remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. Reserve the oil and fat in the pan for your vegetables.
-Return the pot to a high heat and vigorously fry off the onions and carrots.
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-After about five minutes they should have taken on a decent amount of colour, at this stage you want to go in with the red pepper, the chillies and the garlic.
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-Cook these for about another five to ten minutes on the high heat. Keep stirring it every minute or so so that everything gets an equal amount of heat and contact with the pan.
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-When you are happy with the colour you can add in the smoked paprika for a minute of cooking.
-Then place the browned oxtail pieces on top of your sautéed vegetables.
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-Pour in the two tins of chopped tomatoes and the tin of tomato puree.
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-To make sure that everything doesn’t reduce too much while cooking you should also add in a full tin worth of boiling water.
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-Bring this all back up to the boil, then place a tight fitting lid on top and put it into the centre of your oven.
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-Each oven is different but I cooked this for about three hours at 160 and the meat came out perfectly. Test it after two and a half hours and if the meat falls off the bones without any resistance, then you are good to go.
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-Take the oxtail pieces out of the sauce and set them aside to rest.
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-Use a soup gun, food processor or blender to puree some of the braising liquid. This will give you an impromptu barbeque sauce.
-When the meat has cooled a little, start to pick the meat off the bones. There shouldn’t be too much work to this but I find a fork really helps to get around the awkward bits.
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When all of your meat is picked and your sauce is blended you are ready to go. I like to serve these on some flatbreads with a little pickle, chopped spring onion and coriander. It is a winner every time.

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Mojo Pork and The Death Of Pulled Pork

Centra now does pulled pork sandwiches. It’s my own fault. Well, it’s our own fault. We did this to ourselves. We demanded it from every sandwich shop and diner. From every deli and every burger shack. Pulled pork, in some form or other, has probably graced the menus of most of the restaurants in Dublin. It was only a matter of time before the newsagents got wind of it. I can’t complain too much, I have done pulled pork recipes myself. I love the stuff, but I think it’s time we said goodbye.

In the spirit of a fond farewell here is yet one more pulled pork recipe. Because why the hell not. This one is called Mojo pork and is something I tried out for the first time earlier this Summer after seeing it in the movie Chef by Jon Favreau. It is a seriously fruity, vibrant alternative to the usual spicy version we are used to. It also works so well with any other fruits you have knocking around the house.

1 Pork Shoulder
2 Oranges
2 Limes
1 Bunch of Mint
1 Bunch of Coriander
8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tsp Cumin
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-Ok first thing you have to do is make up your marinade. Juice and zest the oranges and limes into a bowl.
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-Crush and chop up the garlic and add it in.
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-Finely slice up the coriander.
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-Do the same with the mint.
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-Add both of the herbs into the marinade.
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-Place the shoulder into a medium sized roasting pan so it fits snugly and then pour over the marinade.
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-Get your hands in there and massage the marinade into the meat well. You want it to be entirely coated in the zesty, herby freshness.
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-Place this into a preheated oven at 200 degrees.
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-After about an hour or so the meat will start to colour nicely.
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-At this point you want to cover it with a layer of tin foil and lowering the heat down to 150 degrees.
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-After another three to four hours the pork will be perfect pulling texture. Take it out and let it rest for about thirty minutes at room temperature.
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-When you are ready to eat just gently pull it apart on a chopping board with a couple of forks.
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The finished product can then be used in sandwiches or burgers or tacos. We had it in some little flatbreads and a dollop of barbeque sauce on top. I’m going to be sad to see it go but it just gets me more excited as to what the next big exciting thing is.

A Casual Fling and Breakfast Burritos

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Dublin is undergoing something of a “fling” with the burrito. It’s ok though. We both know what it is. It’s just casual. We are both having fun. Neither of us is looking for something serious right now. Dublin is just experimenting with different kinds of food. We just got out of a string of long term relationships, first the Breakfast Roll, then the Chicken Fillet. We needed something fun for a while.

But I think it’s only polite that after a night of Pinto Bean Passion that we offer to make breakfast before kicking the poor thing back out onto the streets. At least until we drunk text them after the work night out next Thursday that is.

I think I might have a suitable breakfast right here. The Breakfast Burrito. The perfect combination of our loves and theirs. An even playing field. But something I don’t think Dublin has seen much of yet. For shame on all those burrito establishments! Well here is your no strings attached breakfast burrito, sorted.
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Ingredients
6 Slices of Smoky Bacon
100g Chorizo
5 Eggs
3 Spring Onions
100g Cheddar Cheese
Small Bunch of Fresh Coriander
2 Small Tomatoes
2 Large Flour Tortillas
Tabasco Sauce
Chipotle Sauce

-Slice up the bacon and the chorizo and add them into a hot pan with the finely chopped stalks of the coriander. They might need a tablespoon of oil to get started but the fat should render out of the chorizo quick enough. Preheat your grill to high.
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-When they have gotten dark and crispy, remove them from the pan onto a piece of kitchen paper, try to reserve as much of the rendered fat and oil as possible for the eggs.
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-Crack your eggs into the pan, still over a high heat. Let them cook together for about 5 minutes or so or until the whites are nearly set.
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-While these are cooking, grate your cheese and slice up the spring onions.
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-When the eggs are good to go scatter all of the cheese and spring onions over the top and place your pan under the hot grill for about five minutes.
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-While the cheese is melting, finely chop up your tomatoes and coriander leaves.
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-When the eggs come out from the grill they should look gooey and melty and delicious.
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-Using a spatula, lightly break and mix up the eggs and the cheese all together so you end up with a kind of scrambled eggs. Don’t be afraid of bursting your perfect yolks, these are going to give you a totally unique scrambled egg consistency.
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-Lightly heat your tortillas under the grill for about a minute each side and then lay them out. In the centre of each one (you should get two servings from this recipe), pile a big spoonful of the egg mixture.
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-Next, add on the chorizo and bacon, and the tomato and coriander mix. Sprinkle a little Tabasco sauce to give it an extra bit of bite.
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-Starting from one end, wrap it up tightly in the warm tortilla and you are good to go.

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Serve this beast with a side of chipotle sauce and you have a hangover breakfast that will help you forget anything that came before.

Mexican Pork Tacos

I recently moved from the city centre into slightly more compact digs on the Southside. This led me to the inevitable trip to Ikea on Wednesday last. Originally planning a morning trip it was close to six thirty by the time I got home (typical day off right?). So I needed to get myself fed and back into action fast. The answer? Tacos. Tacos is always the answer.

These tacos are the best. I had four and I would have had more if my Sister was not equally as endeared to them as I was. Seriously give these a go. Really speedy to put together and even fast to chow down and get to building that Austmarka Brimnes set.

The portions here are perfect for two people so just double it up as necessary for yourself. I got the shells from Tesco around the Old El Paso stuff and they are pretty handy to have around the kitchen for just such a taco related emergency.

The Ingredients

500g Pork Belly Slices (skin removed)
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Lime (zested)
8 Small soft flour tacos
Any assorted extras you fancy

-Dice up the pork belly into 1cm cubes and mix with the cumin, paprika and the lime zest.
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-Fry these on a medium/low heat for about ten to fifteen minutes with just a touch of oil. the fat from the belly will render out once it starts cooking.
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-Now is the time to set up all of the bits and pieces you are going to use to pimp up your tacos. I went with lime wedges, avocado, coriander and sliced spring onion but you could use rice, beans, sliced peppers, iceberg lettuce or anything you have in your fridge really
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-Once they have coloured a little bit crank up the heat and squeeze in the juice from the lime you zested earlier.
Pork after adding the lime juice
-Keep these moving around in the pan as it sizzles away but be very careful as the juice can burn easily. Remove from the heat and set aside.
-Gently heat the tortillas under a medium grill for about 2 minutes while you plate everything else up.
-Serve everything on a great big platter and get everyone to tuck in.

The finished product

This is a hands on job and everyone is going to get a little messy. They will love it though, I promise.