Oaxacan Pork Picadillo Tacos

This is an easy upgrade to the typical Taco Tuesday ground beef tacos. Rick Bayless uses tomatoes and sweet spices to flavor the meat (ground pork) as well as nuts and raisins to add contrasting texture. Delicious!

We ate the picadillo in warm hard-shell taco shells with avocado slices, refried beans, steamed greens, and brown Basmati rice. A little sprinkling of feta or queso fresco was a nice garnish too. This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless.com.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean, coarse-ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns OR about 3/4 tsp ground
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick OR 1 teaspoon ground
  • 5 cloves OR about 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • coarse salt (about 1 teaspoon)

  1. Pour the tomatoes directly into a blender and blend until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large, 14-inch skillet over medium heat. (I used enameled cast iron.)
  3. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown. (If quite a bit of fat has rendered from the meat, drain it off.)
  5. If using whole spices, add the pepper, cinnamon and cloves in a mortar or spice grinder. Add the ground spices to the skillet along with the tomato puree, raisins and vinegar.
  6. Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogenous mass, 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. While the filling simmers, toast the almonds for about 8 to 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven.
  8. Stir toasted almonds into the filling; adjust seasoning as needed with salt. Serve.

Note: The finished picadillo can be covered and refrigerated for 3 or 4 days.

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Black Bean Empanadas

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I was originally going to combine my two vegetarian empanada posts… but that would be such a disservice to their fabulously different flavors!

My husband had to work on Super Bowl Sunday this year. 😦 We don’t usually go to a party, but my husband, kids, and I really enjoy celebrating the big game with a festive menu. I decided that I wanted to be a superstar spouse and deliver a special meal to him at work- just so that he wouldn’t miss everything

My daughter’s special pig “Honey Pie” – another football fan in our house!

If you read my last post, you know how obsessed I am with empanadas- and so you know what a super-special Super Bowl meal this really was!! These black bean empanadas were the second vegetarian empanada version we had for the big game. This filling had a really creamy texture and a spicy bite that held up well to the dough. Great.

Like my “green” empanadas, these empanadas also star Carla Hall’s famous (famous to me, at least!) Cream Cheese Dough. When Carla was on Top Chef, she seemed to be always cranking out both savory and sweet fillings with this wonderful, tender dough. I am SO happy to have my hands on the recipe!! 🙂 I modified her perfect recipe to incorporate whole wheat flour- pretty daring, I know- but it really worked out. 🙂

I cut the dough into 5-inch circles, and we ate the empanadas as a main course with refried beans and brown Basmati rice. (We had chips and guacamole first, of course!!) If the dough is cut into 3-inch rounds, they would be the perfect size for an appetizer. This recipe was adapted from Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko. I also adapted the baking time to use a convection oven.

I am bringing these tasty morsels to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #54 over at The Novice Gardener. I am co-hosting this week with my friend Sonal of Simply Vegetarian 777. So exciting!! Join the fun- it is a great way to meet other bloggers and increase the exposure of your own blog! Click here for the guidelines to join the party.

Yield: 9 (5-inch) empanadas

For the Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Dough:

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 9 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice

For the Black Bean Picadillo Filling:

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground Mexican chiles, such as ancho
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro

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  1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours and salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
  2. With the paddle attachment, beat on low-speed until the dough comes together and forms a loose mass around the paddle.
  3. On a large piece of plastic wrap, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. (Note: The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, cover the raisins with the hot water. Let soak.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the ground chiles and cook, stirring, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in the beans, corn, and raisins with their soaking liquid.
  9. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  10. When cool, stir in the cheese and cilantro.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. To Finish: On a floured work surface (or between layers of plastic wrap), roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter (I used a bowl), cut 9 rounds out of the dough, reshaping and re-rolling out the dough as necessary.
  13. Mound 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of the round and fold the other side over to form a half-moon. Press to seal the dough and pinch at intervals to make pleats. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling. (Alternatively, start at one end, pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim.)
  14. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes (on convection) or up to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and heated through. Serve the empanadas warm or at room temperature.

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