Tacos al Pastor with Salsa Verde and Mexican Rice

Remember how yesterday I mentioned that I had a bunch of pineapple salsa left after making the grilled salmon. Knowing how delicious the combination of Al Pastor and pineapple is from many meals at Los Guachos, I decided to use some of the leftover salsa as a condiment on tacos. We got the al Pastor pork at La Plaza Tapatia, but weren’t exactly wowed by the flavor, so would make our own next time.

Tacos al Pastor

I’m especially fond of green sauce on my tacos, so we made this Salsa Verde recipe to go with it. I especially love how the avocado gives it a lushness to the mouth feel that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Salsa Verde

Mexican Green Sauce With Tomatillos and Avocado (Salsa Verde)
recipe courtesy Food.com

“Awesome! If you love guacamole, try this lighter, more tangy version made with fresh green tomatillos and avocado! We really love this salsa verde. Serve with simple grilled foods like carne asada or fajitas, or with a bowl of tostadas chips. And, green sauce is great stirred in to scrambled eggs Green Eggs and Ham – Mexican Style. From “Zarela’s Veracruz: Mexico’s Simplest Cuisine” by Zarela Martinez. Enjoy!”

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
2 -3 serrano peppers, stemmed and coarsely chopped ( or jalapeno peppers)
6 -8 medium tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and cut into quarters ( about 1/2 pound)
1 ripe Hass avocado
12 -15 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped

In a food processor or blender (or with mortar and pestle), process garlic and salt to a paste.

In the processor or blender, place onion, jalapenos and tomatillos and pulse to make a slightly chunky mix. Remove to bowl.

Halve and pit avocado and scoop out flesh. Chop finely and add to other ingredients. Add cilantro and mix well.
Serve with tortilla chips or as a condiment for meat, fish, poultry, burritos or quesadillas.

Makes about 2 cups.

Mexican Rice

And even better is this Mexican Rice recipe that is made in a rice cooker. Restaurant flavor with hardly any work at all.

Mexican Rice
recipe courtesy Food.com

12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
1 medium white onions
3 medium jalapenos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste ( may omit if using canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 limes

Directions
1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.

2. Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.

3. Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.

4. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.

5. Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. (The recipe is very specific about this but I used a 10 inch dutch oven and it worked out fine.) Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn’t get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.

6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

7. Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

8. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well after 15 minutes.

9. Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.

10. Edited to add 6-15-05: If you can’t get good fresh tomatoes you are better off using canned tomatoes. Don’t use those awful hard and underipe tomatoes that are at most supermarket chains. Just be sure that the processed tomatoes and the one onion equals 2 cups. One the other hand- if you find that after processing your tomatoes and onions that you have less than 2 cups- simply add enough bottled salsa to make up the difference.

11. Edited 8-21-06: Do not skip any of the steps. It may seem stupid- but rinsing the rice to remove the starch
is very important if you want fluffy rice. It will only take two minutes of your time but it makes the difference.

12. Edited 8-15-08: Leftovers are just as delicious the next day so this is a perfect dish to make ahead time for potlucks. This rice also freezes well. For Freezing Ahead: Cool, portion and freeze in a ziploc bag. To reheat from frozen: Place in a pyrex dish and warm in the microwave, stirring every 2-3 minutes until heated through.