Get out your maracas, mis amigos. I have a meal that you can make almost completely ahead of time so you can salsa your way through your evening without a care in the world. Mike and I have been making this meal for awhile, tweaking it a bit each time. This weekend we served it to our friends, Pedro and Sandra. We had everything ready to go before they arrived, so that all we had to do was heat up the roasted, shredded pork tenderloin and put a stack of corn tortillas wrapped in foil in the oven to warm up. For an appetizer, we seasoned some shrimp and threaded it onto wooden skewers. When our guests arrived, Mike put the shrimp under the broiler, poured some drinks and served the spicy shrimp with green tomatillo salsa for dipping. Best of all, I finally got to use one of the many fabulous serving platters I got as wedding presents.
Mike peeled and seasoned the shrimp with a spicy creole seasoning blend and fresh ground pepper. Adobo seasoning, chili powder or cumin would also work well. He coated a baking sheet with cooking spray and skewered the shrimp. You can do this up to a few hours ahead, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until your guests arrive. If you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes. Preheat your broiler and cook for 1 ½ minutes on each side. Remove from skewers and serve with salsa, chutney or other dipping sauce.
Mike did a study abroad program in Puebla, Mexico where he got most of his meals from the street vendors selling tacos filled with slow-roasted meat that was sliced off a spit to order. Travelers are often warned to avoid these tasty street snacks for fear of food poisoning, but it is a known fact that Mike cannot pass up meat on a spit, especially if tortillas are involved. In his experience, the tacos were served on soft, fresh tortillas, not the fried shells that always taste just a little bit stale to me. We used our favorite brand of small size corn tortillas that we warm in a dry skillet or in the oven if we need a large quantity.
The fresh salsa is my own creation and it is more of a topping than a dip, as I like to cut the veggies and mango into larger pieces. You should definitely make this at least an hour ahead so the juices have time to stew and develop their flavors. Here is the recipe:
Roasted Pepper and Mango Salsa
1 red bell pepper and 1 green bell pepper, each cut into four flat pieces, seeds and ribs removed
2 tsp. olive oil
1 c. red onion, sliced into half moons
2 medium sized mangos, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ c. chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper
Place the bell peppers skin side up on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and cook under the broiler for about 12 minutes, or until the skin has blackened. Put the peppers in a ziploc bag to steam for about 15 minutes, then peel the skins off and cut the peppers into thin strips. Add to a serving bowl. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and lightly browned, about five minutes. Remove from heat to cool, then add to bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine gently. Taste for seasoning, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour so the flavors have a chance to mesh.
The finished salsa.
Pork tenderloin is one of the easiest cuts to prepare. You can season it anyway your heart desires, put it in the oven for about 30 minutes, and you have your main dish. Shredding the pork then briefly simmering in seasoned broth creates the flavor and the moisture of slow-cooked, pulled pork. Sofrito is a tomato-based seasoning that is added to soups, stews and sauces in Latin dishes. It can be found in most large grocery stores or Latin markets.
Shredded Pork for Tacos
2 lbs. pork tenderloin
fresh ground pepper
½ to 1 cup chicken or beef broth
¼ c. sofrito, or to taste
1 to 2 tsp. adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
Warm corn tortillas and sour cream for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the pork with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Season pork on all sides with adobo, chili powder and pepper, or whatever Latin seasoning you like. Roast for 30 minutes or until the meat is just slightly pink when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Using two forks, shred the pork. You can prepare up to this point several hours in advance and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Add half a cup of broth to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork, sofrito and adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are very hot. If you like, you can finely chop one of the peppers and add it to the pork. If you are not sure that you can handle the heat, just add the sauce from the can of peppers, as the recipe suggests. If you can’t find chipotle peppers in adobo, add extra sofrito or a dash of hot sauce. If you need more liquid, add some of the remaining broth. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. To serve, have your guests fill their warm tortillas with some pork, the Roast Pepper and Mango Salsa and a bit of sour cream.
Mike does the shredding.
Simmering the shredded pork.
We topped off our dinner with the wonderful cheese flan that Sandra made us from Pedro’s mother’s recipe. Flan is a Latin custard-style dessert with a carmelized flavor. Es delicioso!