When I was contacted by Heather, the blogger presently known as Girlichef to take part in a cookbook cook off experiment I almost bought a plane ticket to head on over and mess up her kitchen. Back up she explained as this was a virtual cook off and proceeded to tell me how I would receive Lisa Fain’s shiny new cookbook, The Homesick Texan courtesy of those generous people from Hyperion, in the mail and to wait for further instruction on what recipes myself and eighteen other lucky blogger’s would have to make over a three week period and blog about. Well the book was delivered and I grabbed it from the nice lady who drives the white and purple truck and started to salivate at all of the great pictures and recipes that I wanted to make but I had to wait for instructions from my sensei! Finally we were given the go ahead to make the first dish, It was pork tacos in the style of those sold at the gas stations in Dallas and Austin-style black beans.
Just in case anybody doesn’t know I live in Southern California and I could eat tacos from many different restaurants every day of the week if I wanted to. I have some favorites and was a little skeptical of how tacos from Texas might taste. They look great in the book and after reading through the recipe list my skepticism started to fade. These tacos have crept into my top three favorites list, wait they didn’t creep they strode right on up past all of the other tacos. The recipe requires the pork to be marinaded in a chile puree for 8 hours but I ended up being a little side tracked and instead of cutting that time and rushing to make them I decided to postpone and have them for dinner the next night so my pork marinaded for almost twenty four hours. In no way did this detract from the olympic gold winning taste and I was very happy when I sat down and devoured them alongside my side of black beans.

I must admit I rarely, nay never make beans from scratch so I was excited at being prodded into making these Austin-style black beans. It was very easy with time being one of the most important ingredients when cooking the beans and a little help from my wife. Cooked very slowly with some great additional ingredients thrown in made me realise that it doesn’t always have to be re-fried and I have a great respect to all of the bean makers out there stirring quietly over the stove. A few hours later I stole a spoonful and loved the taste of the smoky and spicy flavors.

This is an awesome book and like many of the other blogger’s taking part in this extravaganza I have bookmarked many other recipes which I am yearning to make. I can’t wait until our next cook off post so stay tuned.

Here’s the recipes courtesy of The Homesick Texan:

Pork Tacos
4 dried pasilla chile’s with stems and seeds removed
2 lbs of pork shoulder
1 Canned chipotle chile in adobo
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Small pinch of ground clove
1/4 Cup of orange juice
1/4 Cup of pineapple juice
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp veg oil

For the tacos
6 jalapenos
Tortillas, corn or flour
1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
1/4 medium yellow onion diced
1 Lime in wedges

In a a dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla chile’s on each side for about 10 seconds until they puff. Fill the pan with enough water to cover them. Leave the heat on until it starts to boil and then turn off the heat and let them soak for about 30 minutes. While the chile’s are soaking rinse the pork and trim the fat. Cut into half-inch size pieces. Once the pasilla’s are hydrated drain and rinse them. Place them in a blender with the chipotle chili, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, orange juice, pineapple juice, vinegar and olive oil. Blend until smooth and add salt to taste.
Toss the diced pork with the chile puree and place in a non-reactive container, and store in the fridge for 8 hours. Before cooking let the pork sit at room temp for 30 minutes. To cook the pork, heat the veg oil in a large skillet on medium. Fry the pork in the skillet for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
While the pork is cooking place the jalapenos under the broiler until blackened turning once. Serve pork in warm tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, along with the roasted jalapeno,lime wedges and salsa on the side.

Austin-Style Black Beans
1 lb dried black beans
1Tbsp veg oil
1 Medium diced yellow onion
1 Carrot, diced
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 canned chipotle chile’s in adobo, chopped
1/2 Cup chopped cilantro divided
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 Cup of lime juice
Salt to taste

Rinse and sort through the beans removing any stones or shrivelled ones. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
Drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
Return the empty pot to the stove and on med-low heat, warm the veg oil. Add the onions and carrots and occasionally stir. Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lighter, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Return the beans to the pot along with the chipotle chile and 1/4 cup of cilantro. Cover with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes add the remaining cilantro, cumin, tomato paste, and lime juice. Taste and add salt. Cook uncovered for another 30 minutes or until beans are tender.The ultimate cooking time will depend on the freshness of the beans. When done smash a few beans against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken the broth. Stir and serve.

This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef.