So I know that a lot of the folks who read this blog are in Australia, and Australians don't on the whole eat a lot of pork (just try to get decent lamb in this country though - it probably came from NZ) but I thought I'd pass this along.
True Mexican cooking - as opposed to Tex-Mex, which I also like and which is most of what you get in anything called a Mexican restaurant - involves a lot of rich stews and/or stewlike substances stuffed into other things. And often, for whatever reason, their stews involve the meat being shredded, instead of cubed. I like the texture this leads to, and it also helps get those yummy sauces spread around a bit. So when Coz brought home a slow-cooking "crock pot" the other day, I thought I'd try to make a shredded pork stew, though the shredding technique should work equally well with any meat in just about anything stew-like. I started from some recipe I found online and as usual ended up tweaking things fairly severely, but the first version last week went something like this:
~1 lb. beans (I think they were pintos) soaked overnight with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a couple of dried chilies. Cooked in the slow-cooker for about 6 hours, then drained.
~1 lb. pork loin boiled for about an hour with a couple of bay leaves and some more crushed garlic. Skimmed the fat off the top and drained, reserving the liquid for later. Left to cool (pour cold water over it, or leave the whole pot out in the snow for a bit :) Then you literally shred it with your fingers; work the stringy fibers of the meat apart, but try not to break them too much.
~1 lb. of Italian sausage, skinned (recipe calls for chorizo, but we didn't have any.)
Saute in a big pan (I like our tall-sided paella pan for the job, as its harder to spill things out of, but a big frying pan or wok should work) until it starts to brown. Remove the sausage, but don't clean the pan.
1 large onion, sliced.
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped.
8-9 baby potatoes, quartered.
Sautee in the juices in the same pan until the potatoes start to brown. Re-add the sausage, the shredded pork, some salt, and some baby carrots, and cook for another few minutes.
Transfer to your stewpot, and de-glaze the frypan with some red wine; pour that in too. Add your beans, some oregano, and some more chili - I used a couple of tablespoons of smoky chipotles in adobo, pureed, which are the bestest chilies ever. Added about a cup of the liquid reserved from the pork, and the rest of about a cup of red wine (what I didn't use for deglazing.) And the juice of a decent-sized lime. And 2 cans of diced tomatoes (fire-roasted; my favorites.) Oh, and some bacon left over from breakfast. Stewed this for absolutely _ages_ in the slow-cooker, but a couple of hours on a low simmer on the stove would probably do it. Served it over rice with sour cream. Yum!
Todays version of same has no beans in it, nor sausage, but a huge amount of shredded pork (whole pork shoulders are cheap to begin with AND they were on sale for half-price. I used half of what I got off the shoulder, and this stew is going to be twice as big as the last batch.) Gave in to temptation and just used a whole head of garlic this time. Put the carrots in early with the potatoes so they get that almost-burnt carmelly flavour that carrots do. Added cubed eggplant and sliced capsicums when the veggies were about half-done. Used about the same amount of chipotles - for the double batch - and added a bunch of fire-roasted milder Hatch chilies. Twice as much tomatoes. Half again the red wine. A bit of ground cumin. I'm a little worried that dropping the sausage and pre-boiling the meat will mean there isn't enough fat in it (Hey! Fat is good!), but its a stew; it can't exactly dry out on me. Smells good anyways - I'll let you know.