Thursday, October 20, 2011

My first successful attempt at making a Mexican meal

A couple years ago I tried making enchiladas. I hated them. Not long after I attempted quesadillas. Whatever recipe I used must've been a crappy one, because the tortillas burned and the filling didn't cook. My conclusion: Mexican food is hard and trying it only results in wasting money thanks to ruined ingredients. Haha I still don't think I'll ever try enchiladas again; I've realized recently that I probably failed at them because I don't really care for enchiladas. I never order them when I go out for Mexican, so why bother making them at home? But ever since I ordered a carnitas platter at the first Mexican restaurant we tried after arriving in El Paso, I have been burning to recreate that meal. It was SO GOOD!

Here is how my attempt turned out: 

It was delicious! I will change a few things next time I try the meal, though. The pork and the beans needed the seasonings upped quite a bit. I was cautious with them because I don't like things too spicy or salty, but after tasting them in the context of the meal, I would probably double the seasonings on the pork and the beans just needed a lot more salt (I did add more when I reheated them and they were much better).

The pork was super easy. I basically combined a few different recipes from and this is what I ended up with:
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small can chopped chilies    
Mix together spices in a bowl. Cut pork roast into 2-inch chunks. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place pieces in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Add chilies. Cover and cook on High until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 4-5 hours (or 10 hours on Low). Turn the meat halfway through cooking time. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Spread the pork in a thin layer on a baking sheet and add a few generous spoonfuls of the cooking liquid. Put in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until it is browned and the liquid has evaporated.

It may not look appetizing right now, but the smell sure is!
A peek during the browning process. Is it time for dinner yet?!

The recipes for the refried beans and rice I don't want to share here. They are from a friend's parents' restaurant so I'm sure they'd rather not have them published all over the web for anyone to find. =) But she did say I could share them, so if anyone would like them, just shoot me an email. But I did find similar recipes for the beans here and for the rice here that I'm sure would be just as delicious. After all, seasoning is always up to the individual person and that's really the key. Another key to the beans is not to rush them. They need to be cooked until they are VERY tender, or they won't mash well.

For my tortillas, I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe. I was pretty intimated upon reading how hard it is to get them just right, and pretty prepared for half of them to go straight to the trash. But I followed her recipe exactly, and to my surprise I didn't have a single bad one out of the whole batch. I didn't bother with trying to get them perfectly round though since I'm sure that just takes a lot of practice and it doesn't effect the taste so who cares? =)
One taste of these beauties and you'll never buy a tortilla from a store again! =)


  1. I love enchiladas that I make at home, but I never order them in a restaurant (they just don't take the same). If you ever want to try making a small batch of them, its really easy and I can give you the recipe! :)

  2. I think yours would be the only Mexican food I'd try, I don't like it as a general rule. Mom made some enchiladas once that were uh-mazing though, except for the chilis >.<

    How big are the tortillas, the big ones we used to make or the small ones? I love tortillas but have yet to finish a pack from the store....