Friday, September 2, 2011

The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off: Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style and Austin-Style Black Beans

If you ask me, the very best part of blogging isn't always about the food, but about the camaraderie associated with the food. We food bloggers are a group of people who are bursting at the seams with passion and it's that passion that unites us.  That's why when one of our very own writes a cookbook we all feel proud and honored.  We understand the meaning behind the cookbook and realize that someone's dream, much like our own, was able to come true....all through blogging.  Something that started on a whim, as a hobby, grew to achieve maximum potential.  So, my congratulations to Lisa Fain of  the popular blog Homesick Texan for writing one drop dead gorgeous cookbook full of amazing recipes, gorgeous photos, and heartfelt stories. 

I am so happy to be a part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-off and want to thank my friend Heather of girlichef for inviting me to join.  Cooking these recipes on my own is great, but cooking these recipes together with a group of friends is ten times better.  In the next few weeks we will be highlighting lots of tasty and beautiful food, the food of Texas.  It's going to be a fun ride.

First up, and very memorable, are these Pork Tacos prepared Dallas Gas Station Style.  Now, I've never looked forward to filling up at a gas station before, but if I ever get to Texas, the gas station is the first place I'll go!  These pork tacos were undeniably delicious.  Tender chunks of cubed pork tossed in a thick paste of pasilla chiles, chipotle chile, garlic, and seasonings stuffed into a corn tortilla and topped with cilantro and diced yellow onion...I'm not just talking good.  I'm talking you will rave about it good.  The aroma of that pork cooking will have everyone rallying around the dinner table waiting to be served. The food will be inhaled and all will be silent.  After dinner you will find yourself looking through The Homesick Texan book, just looking for another winner to prepare for your family.  Yes, they are that good!

Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style
Adapted from The Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain
Serves 4-6

For the Pork:
4 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 pounds pork shoulder
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4  cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Tacos:
6 jalapeno chiles
Tortillas, either corn or flour
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 medium yellow onion diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
salsa, for serving

In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff.  Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles.  Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 3 minutes.

While the pasilla chiles are soaking, rinse the pork and trim the fat.  Cut into half-inch size pieces.

Once the pasilla chiles are hydrated, drain and rinse the chiles.  Place the chiles in a blender along with the chipotle chile, garlic, oregano, cumin, orange juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, and olive oil.  Blend until a smooth puree forms.  Taste and add salt.

Toss the diced pork with the chile puree, place in a nonreactive container, and store covered in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

Before cooking, let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  To cook the pork, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium.  Fry the pork in the skillet for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: I did question whether or not the pork would be tender after only cooking 15 minutes.  If the pieces of pork are kept small then they are fairly tender.  Of course, the pork does benefit from the addition of a little water and an additional hour or so of simmering on the stove.

While the pork is cooking, place the jalapenos under the broiler and cook for 10 minutes, or until blackened, turning once.  Serve pork in warm tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, along with the roasted jalapenos, lime wedges, and salsa on the side.
Now, I've talked beans with you before.  To say I love beans is a serious understatement.  In fact, I love beans so much I would have to tell you that there's no way I could be a fair judge when it comes to bean recipes.  They're all winners to me.  That's why I sought out the opinions of everyone else at the table and I'm happy to say that everyone around the table loved these beans...and we're talking about folks who could take 'em or leave 'em most the time.

My beans cooked for a bit longer than what's called for in the book and therefore they didn't hold their shape as beautifully as some of the others who prepared them.  I'm not mad about that.  I think I actually preferred them a little on the refried side anyway.  At any rate, they were slightly smoky, slightly spicy, full of flavor and extremely good.  The recipe makes a huge batch and my batch is nearly gone.  I'd definitely make these again.

Austin-Style Black Beans
Adapted from The Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain
Serves 8-10

1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup lime juice
salt, to taste

Rinse and sort through the beans, removing any stones and shriveled beans.  Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil and then cook for 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse the beans in a colander in the sink.  Return the empty pot to the stove and on medium-low heat, warm the vegetable oil.  Add the onions and carrots to the pot and while occasionally stirring, cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lighter, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic to the pot and cook for 30 more seconds.

Return the beans to the pot, along with the chipotle chiles and 1/4 cup of cilantro.  Cover with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours.  After 1-1/2 hours, add the remaining cilantro, cumin, tomato paste, and lime juice.  Taste and add salt.  Cook uncovered for 30 more minutes or until beans are tender (the ultimate cooking time will depend on the freshness of your beans).  When done, smash a few beans against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the broth.  Stir the pot and serve.

This is a list of all of the bloggers who are part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off :
Heather - girlichef 
Brandy - Nutmeg Nanny
Bonnie - Sweet Life
Christy - Fudge Ripple 
Jenn (me) - Rook no.17 
 *This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*


  1. I'm so glad that your family enjoyed both of these dishes, Kim...mine did, too. Everything looks delicious. Your red jalapeƱos make me smile, too...wish I'd have been able to find a couple of red ones to add to the mix. =)

  2. Kim-you are so sweet. I loved your intro. And the pics are beautiful. Having a lot of fun following this cook-off.

  3. It all looks great...I wish I could have found red jalapenos.

  4. Hi Kim,
    Your photo's are great! Those tacos and beans are awesome, we will be making this recipe over and over. I enjoyed your post and it is fun cooking with you. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.
    Miz Helen

  5. Yeah, I'm pretty jealous of those red peppers as well. Wonderful post. Such fun to read over everyone's different writing styles and photos of the same recipe... Doing the book Proud and looking forward to next week.

  6. The more you guys post from this book, the more excited I am to get it! I love what you said about the exuberance of the blogging's what hooked me initially and what keeps me coming back for more.

  7. Hi Kim, terrific post! I agree that the camaraderie is one of the absolute best things about blogging. I'm so glad that Heather brought us all together to experience this incredible cookbook! So pleased to meet you! I'm looking forward to seeing what you choose for week 3!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  8. Great post and I agree with the red jalapenos, they look great as does your tacos and beans. Great to be playing this game with you and everyone else!
    Take care..

  9. I have been loving all the recipes that have been showing up around blogland from this book!

  10. I have a red jalapeno bush in the garden - I swear they never were green! These photos are outstanding. I saw this on Heather's blog and noted it. But two in two days tells me it's fate. I must make it.

  11. You summed it up perfectly, and though this is my first time visiting your blog, these are the reasons I love participating in mini-events like this. Wonderful job on the food too!

  12. I ate a huge dinner, but now I'm finding myself hungry again after seeing this! I've got to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook!

  13. i'm sitting here, late at night, having skipped dinner and wishing i lived next door to you! your version of the tacos and beans look amazing. love the punch of color with the red chilies. looking forward to week 2!

  14. Our beans look the same. ;-) I cooked mine longer too and I had to take the photo the next day. ;-) Love your pictures and as others have commented, I am envious of the red chilies. Great job!

  15. Beautiful cookbook! The tacos sounds awesome...makes me wanna make a road trip to a Texas gas station!

  16. Hi Kim, Your tacos and beans look fantastic and remind me of my time in Arizona with all of the wonderful spicy southwestern fare! Oh, I didn't know if you knew that one of your recipes was featured a few weeks ago on my linky party -- the pesto potatoes? YUM! Have a safe and restful Labor Day weekend, Kim! xoxo

  17. I can't agree with you more about the camaraderie; that, combined with these special projects, is what makes blogging so much fun! I feel constantly motivated to try new things! Lovely post, and it's fantastic to be on this adventure with you! Soon to be your newest follower!

  18. Wow! That main photo made my mouth, literally, water. I'm such a fan of HST's recipes. In fact, her Texas Chili Gravy is one of my top most viewed recipes! I'm so making this, Kim. I debated if I should buy her book (I love to support Bloggers). I think you helped me to decide. Looking forward to more of her recipes on your blog!

  19. These look great! I love that you did both. I'm so sad I didn't have the time :(

  20. I am so jealous of your red jalapeƱos. They are such a rare treat at the market. (And I live in Mexico!)

    Your photos are stunning! Great job! :)

  21. Great photos! The tacos and beans look delicious. I'm looking forward to cooking out of this book!

  22. I'm going to make this, seeing it on all of your blogs did me in. Like you, I will cook the pork shoulder longer too.

  23. everything looks amazing! So happy to be a part of this group and excited to be cooking with you :)

  24. My beans also took a little longer, but it was worth the wait!! lovely pics!!

    happy to be cooking along with you!!


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