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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

If you live in the Twin Cities and you frequent Farmers Markets during the summer months, chances are you’ve seen the food truck for ‘Chef Shack‘.  I stop by whenever I see it, because their food is interesting and fantastic.  So, when my good friend, Stephanie Meyer, from Fresh Tart asked me to test a recipe from the Chef Shack for her new book, Twin Cities Chef’s Table— I jumped at the opportunity.  And as it turned out, it was one of my favorite dishes from the truck.  I love these tacos and I was thrilled that I would have early access to this incredible recipe.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

These tacos are a perfect alternative when you want to skip meat for a meal (or always).  The sweet potatoes are creamy and have a subtle cumin flavor, while the black beans are studded with white onion, jalapeños, lime, and a bit more cumin.  But, I think the absolute star of the dish is the quick pickled cabbage slaw.  It adds the necessary crunch and the flavors of the apple cider brine (with red onion, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, star anise, coriander, mustard, and fennel seeds) marry beautifully with the sweet potato and black beans.  The sour cream sauce is also brilliant.  It’s simple.  And I was honestly a bit surprised to find out that there was ketchup in it!  It works fabulously, trust me.  This is a perfect dish to serve to guests for a fun taco night.  It’s completely affordable and is a great vegetarian option.  It works well to make ahead and reheat.  But, most of all– the flavors will please you so much.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

Not surprisingly these amazing tacos are just one of so many delicious recipes in Steph’s book.  It features some of the best eateries, food trucks, local farms, breweries, and co-ops from Minneapolis /St. Paul and a recipe from each of them.  I personally know many of these chefs– they are friends, they are neighbors.  These are extremely talented men and woman who can do phenomenal things with locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients.  This book is inspirational and will make you want to eat better. Not to mention it is brilliantly written.  Steph has poured her heart into this project and her dedication and care really show.  I am so proud of the current Twin Cities food scene and I am so proud of her for capturing it beautifully.  We have so much to offer here in Minnesota, and it’s nice to be able to point to a cookbook that proves this.  So, whether you are from here and would like to be able to make some of your favorite foods from your favorite places at home, or if you just want to have a little taste of our Minnesotan life– this book is one you must have.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos | Relishing It

The Recipe: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

(serves 6-8)

1/2 medium head red cabbage, cored and shredded

3 cups organic apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 cups cold water

1 tablespoon each black peppercorns, mustard seeds,, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and star anise

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup diced red onion

2 large sweet potatoes

olive oil

salt and freshly grated black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided

4 cups canned organic black beans and their juices

1 cup small-diced white onion

1 tablespoon diced jalapeno

1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Cholula, Tapatillo, or locally made Lucky’s), plus another dash for sauce

2 cups sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared organic mayonnaise

2 tablespoons organic ketchup

juice of one lime

fresh corn or homemade flour tortillas

Put cabbage in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Set aside to drain. In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, water, spices, garlic, ginger, and red onion to make the pickle brine.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Transfer cabbage to a large bowl and pour hot pickle brine over the cabbage.  Cover and set in refrigerator to chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place sweet potatoes in oven (I generally don’t wrap mine in foil) and bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Let cool a bit, the slice down the middle and scoop the flesh into a bowl and mash the butter, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper into it. Keep warm. (If in a rush, microwaving them is an option, too.)

While the potatoes roast, place beans and their liquid in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer beans, uncovered until very tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.  Add onion, jalapeño, hot sauce, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin and mash together with a fork.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.

In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, ketchup, lime juice, and salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce to taste.

To assemble and serve the tacos: warm tortillas and top with a spoonful of black beans, a spoonful of sweet potatoes, a bit of cabbage and a drizzle of the sour cream sauce.  Enjoy!

Source: Recipe adapted from Chef Shack (Lisa Carlson & Carrie Summers, Chefs/Owners) via Twin Cities Chef’s Table by Stephanie A. Meyer

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Laurie

 

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Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

We eat an obscene amount of tacos in this house– especially in summer.  It’s just such a perfect time for them with all of the fresh ingredients so readily available for toppings.  Plus, they’re super easy, which is wonderful considering there are so many things I usually want to be doing other than standing over my stove or grill.  I’ve been searching for a perfect barbacoa recipe for awhile now.  And by golly, I’ve found it!  I’ve tried several that were fine, but not particularly memorable.  That is, until I stumbled upon this one.

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

I wanted something that was somewhat saucy, but more importantly had a nice tang to it.  When I read this recipe, I immediately knew it had great potential– it contained both cider vinegar and lime juice.  Bingo!  It also had the freshness I was looking for with cilantro, garlic, and onions blended in to make a perfect sauce. A little intrigue from the addition of cloves and a bit of heat from the smokey chipotle peppers in adobo sauce confirmed that this was what I had been looking for.

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

I knew I didn’t want to fire-up the oven long enough to cook five pounds of beef.  My house would be a sauna at the end of it.  Cooking overnight in the slow cooker was a perfect solution.  It yielded a perfectly tender piece of beef that was perfectly, “tang-ily”, seasoned.  Reducing the cooking liquid at the end really concentrated those flavors, too.  This barbacoa is perfect to feed a crowd of people, like we did, or make a big batch and freeze the leftovers for quick, delicious weeknight meals.  I finally caved-in a bought a tortilla press and have happily been perfecting my corn-tortilla skills– more on that later.  But, for now– feel free to make these tortillas and drink this margarita for your taco party.  Oh, and for variety– here’s a wonderful carnitas recipe! You’ll be inviting me over, right?  Adiós, muchachos!

Perfectly Tangy Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Perfectly Tangy Slow Cooker Barbacoa with Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

(serves a large crowd)

For the Avocado Tomatillo Salsa:

Use this recipe and add 1 avocado.  Blend everything together.  Cover and keep in the refrigerator.

For the Barbacoa:

1 bunch cilantro, rough chopped

1 red onion, cut into chunks

1 head of garlic, peeled

4 canned chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce that they sit in (use less if you want less heat)

juice of 4 limes

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

cracked black pepper, to taste

5 dried bay leaves

4-6 cups chicken or beef stock, preferably homemade

4-7 pounds beef roast (any tough piece of meat will work/brisket, chuck, etc.)

Place the beef in a large slow cooker, my oval one worked perfectly.  You can use 1 piece of meat, or cut what you have into a few pieces so it fits properly and so it cooks uniformly.

To a food processor add the following ingredients (or chop everything very finely using a knife): cilantro, onion, garlic, chipotle peppers and their sauce, lime juice, cider vinegar, ground cloves, salt, and pepper.

Pour the mixture over the beef and add enough broth to cover the meat.  Add the bay leaves.  Stir the sauce and broth together and cover with the lid.  Turn the sow cooker onto the “low” setting and cook for 8-10 hours.  The beef will be completely tender and shred easily with a fork when it’s done.  If your beef doesn’t appear this way when you feel that it’s done–cook it longer.  The collagen will eventually break down and yield a tender piece of meat.  Remember, every slow cooker cooks a bit differently.

When the beef is done, remove it from the liquid and shred it with two forks (removing any fat, too).  Place the liquid into a large sauce pan and heat uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half or more (feel free to skim any fat off, too).  Use your best judgement, you will be pouring this mixture over the shredded meat, so it depends upon how much liquid you prefer in your barbacoa.

Combine the sauce and beef together in the slow cooker.  Use it to make tacos!  Serve it with tortillas, queso fresco or coitja cheese, radishes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos, limes, and the Avocado Tomatillo Salsa.  The barbacoa reheats and freezes very well.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Kitchn

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Well, I’ve finally solved “The Great Taco Dilemma” in our house.  You see, there’s been a long-running disagreement over which tortillas to use.  The kids like those big, floppy, mass-produced white tortillas, while I’ve always favored the smaller, more authentic corn tortillas that are so good when served at the local tacquerias.  But as my husband usually points out while grappling with a rapidly-disintegrating taco, the store-bought versions just crumble in half.  Now, I’ve had a revelation– homemade tortillas that strike that perfect balance.  Soft and pliable because they’re made with wheat, yet with the homemade feel of authentic tortillas.   I hadn’t tried making my own before because I wasn’t convinced that there could be much difference in quality.  The fact is, store-bought tortillas don’t even come close.  And you can roll them out and fry them up in about 10 minutes flat.  That is 10 minutes well spent, my friends.

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Now that the tortilla situation is resolved, we’ve been enjoying the heck out of homemade tacos.  In the time it takes me to roll one dough ball out, another tortilla has completed the frying process.   It’s quick– just 30 seconds on each side.   The ones seen here are a delicious classic Americanized version.  We used this fresh tomatillo salsa and this homemade taco mix.  If you’re up for a more a little more variety, this or this recipe are fabulous options.  Whichever you end up trying, these tortillas are the perfect canvas to showcase amazing flavors.  I also love the fact that I can make these as healthy as I want.   Traditionally, tortillas are made with lard, but I like to use grass-fed butter along with organic white whole wheat flour.  Feel free to use shortening or lard and all-purpose flour, if you want.  One note about rolling the dough out– roll it as thin as you possibly can (see the photograph).  The tortillas also keep very well in the refrigerator for several days, as long as they’re in an airtight bag.  Freezing them is also a great option.  Enjoy!

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

Homemade Tortillas | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Homemade Tortillas

(makes 11)

9 ounces (2 cups) white whole wheat flour (all-purpose can be substituted)

1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (shortening or lard can be substituted)

2/3 cup warm water (not fully hot)

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a fork.  Mix in the warm water with a fork.  The mixture will be a shaggy mess at this point.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes, or until smooth. Adding more flour to the surface as necessary.  Roll into 1 1/2 ounce balls.  Place on parchment paper and cover with a kitchen towel for 1-2 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough balls out until they are paper thin.  Try to maintain a circle, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Heat a dry cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat.  When hot, place the tortilla in the pan and cook each side for about 30 seconds, or until the tortilla begins to lightly brown in some spots.  Keep a watchful eye so it does not burn.

Meanwhile, roll out another dough ball and place in pan when the current one is done cooking.  Continue the process until all the tortillas are made.  As each tortilla is done, place and cover them in a towel lined basket to keep them warm. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

xo

Laurie

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Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

I’m now well into my sixth month of being obsessed with tacos.  Seriously, we’ve been eating them at least once a week for more than a half year, and I’m not even close to getting sick of them.  Tacos al pastor?  Sure.   Spicy shredded beef?  Yes.  And then there are these amazing carnitas tacos that we’ve been enjoying.  They’re perfect to prepare in advance (and I live for meals like this in the summer), they’re healthy (if you don’t go overboard), and they’re oh so tasty.

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas, or “little meats”, can be served simply as a stand-alone dish, but I love it in these tacos even more.  It’s a new addition to my repetoire, which also includes these, and these— both of which are also favorites.  This carnitas version combines the lively flavors of lime and orange, which pair beautifully with pork, cumin, and garlic.  The recipe couldn’t be simpler–  you can make it on the stovetop.  Perfect for when firing up the oven in the summer heat doesn’t sound so tantalizing.  Put all of the ingredients into a pot, no sautéing required.  When cutting your pork shoulder up into cubes, don’t trim off any fat– you’re going to need that so the meat doesn’t get dry.  Let it cook down for about 2 hours and then sear the pork at the end.  That’s it.  Did I mention that it’s completely delicious?

Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

The fresh tomatillo salsa is a fantastic compliment to the carnitas.  You may be tempted to buy a ready-made salsa from the store, but don’t.  The freshness of this topping cannot be bottled and you’ll end up spending more on a store-bought version that pales in comparison.  It only takes a minute to either chop or pulse the ingredients together– definitely worth your time.  And as far as toppings go, I’m stuck on queso fresco cheese, white onions, and cilantro.  The combination is sublime and it tastes so fresh.  Hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa via Relishing It

The Recipe: Carnitas Tacos and Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

For the Carnitas:

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes (do not trim the fat)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted then ground

2 teaspoons kosher salt

6-7 garlic cloves, chopped

Corn tortillas, queso fresco cheese, limes, cilantro, and white onions for toppings

For the Tomatillo Salsa:

4 tomatillos

1/2 medium white onion

4 garlic cloves

1 jalapeño

small handful of cilantro (around 1/3 cup)

juice of 1 lime

kosher salt

To make the Carnitas:  Place all of the ingredients into a large Dutch oven.  Add enough water to just cover the pork.  Bring to a boil, then simmer the pork uncovered for about 2 hours.  Do not touch the pork.  Let it do it’s thing.  After 2 hours, bring the heat up to medium/high and begin reducing the liquid for about the next 45 minutes.  When the liquid is mostly gone, sear all the sides of the pork pieces.  They will be tender and practically fall apart.  Keep a watchful eye at this point, as you don’t want them to burn.

To make the Tomatillo Salsa:  Rough chop the ingredients and place them into a food processor and give them a few pulses until the salsa is your desired consistency.  Alternatively, you can chop all of the ingredients by hand.  Make sure to season correctly with salt.

Source:  Carnitas recipe adapted from The Homesick Texan

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!

Laurie

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