If you’re looking for an easy but tasty menu to entertain with, this one’s a winner.
It was recently my turn to host our “Ladies Night In” and with the summer quickly slipping away I planned a menu full of zesty Latin flavors and outdoor dining to make the most of the summer heat. Knowing that I’d only have about an hour to prep after work before the girls arrived I made sure that all of the dishes that could be prepped ahead of time or required only minutes to make.
The star of the show was the slow cooked pork tacos which taste like you spent hours slaving over them but are super simple to make thanks to a flavorful dry rub and a little work-day crock pot magic. The juicy, smoky pork pairs perfectly with a crunchy-cool Apple-Jicama slaw and chipotle cream. If you’ve never had it before, jicama is a crunchy root vegetable with a slightly sweet taste – like a sweeter, less starchy potato – and it’s delicious with Latin foods. The recipes below serve about 10 people.
Dry Rubbed Shredded Pork Tacos
pork shoulder (4-5 lbs)
Latin spice rub (below)
2 C orange juice
1/2 C water
Apple Jicama Slaw (below)
small soft taco shells
Latin Spice Rub
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 Tbsp chile powder
Combine spices in a small bowl and mix well. Place pork shoulder in a slow cooker. Pat spice rub into the pork and coat the entire shoulder well. Pour orange juice and water into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, then let turn down the heat and cook on low for another 3-4 hours until meat is falling off the bone. Drain excess liquid and transfer meat into serving dish. Use 2 forks to shred pork. Serve with small soft tortillas, slaw, chipotle cream and salsa.
Apple Jicama Slaw
1 Granny Smith apple, julienned
1/2 jicama, peeled & julienned
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small Napa cabbage, julienned
handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/3 C olive oil
juice from 2 limes
1 tsp cumin
Chop cabbage, apple and jicama and mix in a large bowl. Add diced red onion and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice and cumin. Pour over slaw and toss well.
NOTE: The slaw can be prepared up to a day in advance. Store the vegetables in a tightly sealed container and add the dressing just before serving to ensure maximum freshness.
I also whipped together some homemade salsa as a snack and topping for the tacos, since it’s so much fresher and tastier than store bought. I use the word “whipped” literally here because all you have to do is toss the ingredients in a food processor or blender, taste test and the salsa is done.
3-4 tomatoes, seeded
1/2 yellow onion
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded (unless you love it hot!)
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp sugar
small handful cilantro
Toss tomato, onion and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend until chunky. Add lime, cilantro, sugar and cinnamon and blend until desired consistency. Add salt to taste.
NOTE: Too hot for your taste? Sometimes it’s hard to tell with hot peppers but your salsa can be saved! Add more lime juice and dust in more sugar to mellow out the heat to taste.
Don’t forget: Come back tomorrow for dessert – Mojito Cupcakes & Sangria!