Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tex Mex Chile Lime Rice Bowls

My nephew moved away this week. My fun foodie nephew Jeremy who you all have met in a few posts over the years, as a guest chef, and when we visited the World Food Festival. I'm both sad and a little envious at the same time. Sad, because Jeremy and I shared a special bond with our interest in food and cooking and the Transformers, and envious because his path of life has led him to The Lonestar State, Texas, the first state I moved to as a young adult. My first big move away from home. The biggest city I had ever lived in at the time. The state where I would teach myself to master crepes, pate choux, brining a turkey and won my first cooking competition.

Jeremy and I had a great chat the day before he left. I'm proud of all of my nephews but especially proud of Jeremy for taking control of his destiny and hitting the road for new adventures. How many of us toil away day after day and yet wish we had to chance to do the same thing? The company he works for offered a transfer to Texas and he embraced the opportunity. He shared regular updates from the road, where they were, and also what they were eating. The first day of travel got him all the way to Norman, Oklahoma where they stopped for some sleep and some kickass ramen. His first meal in the Lonestar State was, what else? Barbeque! The Goat (my secret nickname for Jeremy) had his first Texas barbeque from Dickey's Barbeque Pit in San Antonio and the picture looks like he had some pretty tasty grub.

The next day meant more miles to drive and more sights to see. He shared pics of the Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas skyline, which made me horribly homesick for Fort Worth. Jeremy is headed for San Antonio, where I have never been, so I'm super excited to see pictures of where he lives and where he hangs out. Texas is a fantastic place for a foodie to live. Austin is widely considered the Food Truck Capital of the World. Texas is also a huge beef producing state with cattle ranches dotting the landscape outside of the cities. Then you have Texas style barbeque which is HUGE, and Tex Mex everything. I'm a big fan of Tex Mex flavors and I think this regional cuisine has really evolved over the years.

REALLY better- and not salty either. My favorite brand.
Tex Mex is one of those delicious fusions of cuisines- southwestern American and Mexican. It's been around for well over a century and takes cues from Mexican, American and Spanish dishes to create a whole new world of flavors. Texas chili, street tacos, giant burritos and fajitas are just a few of the dishes included in Tex Mex cooking. Lots of cilantro is used and that's definitely an acquired taste for some people. Things can get pretty cheesy too, and sometimes a little too cheesy, so for our recipe today we are taking the focus away from the cheese and making some Iowa pork the star.

I started with a pork loin roast and cut it into cubes.
I'm taking my newest Tex Mex dish in line with another new trend- the rice bowl. Pinterest is loaded with rice bowl recipes and they are perfect for lunch bowls and meal prep days. I am braising tender chunks of pork loin with garlic and chili spices, combining with zesty lime and serving with rice and all kinds of tasty and healthy toppings that add lots of flavor and texture but not a lot of extra calories- avocado, chopped tomatoes, onion, whatever you like. I'm going to go with some pan-roasted corn kernels, avocado, chopped tomatoes and onion. I might add cheese.....but you really don't need it.

Chile Lime Pork Rice Bowls

1 boneless pork roast, about 2 lb.
6 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 lime
2 bunches scallions, sliced
1-2 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
cooked rice for serving
toppings: avocado, chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, salsa or pico

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the pork roast into one inch cubes and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside for now.

Mince the garlic cloves. Zest the entire lime and juice. Slice the scallions. Set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Add the pork cubes in small batches and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and continue until all pork is browned, adding more oil if needed. Remove last of the pork and set aside.

Add the garlic to the pot and cook, stirring for a minute or two until softened. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chili powder and continue cooking one minute until fragrant. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring to boil, stirring to bring up the stuck on bits at the bottom. Return the pork and any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Stir in the lime juice, half the scallions and zest. I threw in the squeezed lime halves as well, and removed them after cooking. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours until very tender. You can also cook this on the stovetop at very low simmer.

Prepare the rice and other toppings while the pork is braising. Slice avocados, coarsely chop cilantro, chop red onions and tomatoes. Shred some good cheddar or Mexican cheese. 

Remove the pork from the oven. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry (1 Tb cornstarch and 1 Tb water).

Serve the meat over rice in bowls with the toppings of your choice.

We had our pork with brown rice, pan-roasted Iowa sweet corn that I had frozen in the summer, avocado, tomato, sliced scallions and just a little bit of shredded cheese. You can customize your rice bowl with the toppings you like. The pork was so tender and flavorful. Even The Chef raved about it and threatened to steal the recipe! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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