Recently I’ve completely cleared out my Pantry, transferring all of its items there within into the Dining Room, segmenting and sectioning the parts on how they will be placed once the new shelves as part of the remodel are installed. Now I won’t show you a photo on this current state of affairs but I will share that although it is rather organized, as the days go by, the perfectly stacked cookie sheets as needed become, well let’s just say, not as perfectly stacked as they started, and so on along with all the other stacks if you know what I mean.
The Pantry is without a doubt one of the absolute top features in my house, nearly the size of the laundry room, no kidding, though I’m not sure who thought that one up on the laundry room. No offense to men or anything, but my laundry room was clearly designed by someone who had no clue on the endless laundry volume that takes place in a household. You may well know what I mean here too.
The Pantry has always been a place to store most of the food and equipment items needed to run my kitchen, especially since the kitchen cabinets were originally designed for your average eight-foot tall woman and the Pantry completely solves the dilemma from needing to create a space next to the kitchen table permanently accommodating one of those six foot metal ladders.
In any event, while in the remove and organize to the Dining Room from the Pantry task I came upon a few surprise treasures, those things that happen to secretly set behind other things in cabinets and storage areas then delight us in their reappearance. Oh Hooray, I found the Whatchamacallit! What was its name? a tortilla basket, a tortilla frying basket? Not sure on that, but easily remedied by the internet, you know Amazon at least carries everything in the world. Sure enough, one click was all it took AMAZON first on the list was shouting right in my face, a Tortilla Frying Basket it is. Oops, I forgot to take note of the price. Well, at least I know it is available should you choose to make today’s Shredded Pork Salad in a Tortilla Cup or any number of variety Mexican style salads you can also compose with this little gadget.
One usually does not think of metal gadgets as warm and cuddly but then upon finding this Tortilla Frying Basket it gave me such a warm and happy feeling kindling memories on my years living in Arizona. In Arizona, among some other specialties, we love refried beans so I’ve surely included them into this dish today mixed with some chopped scallions and jalapenos.
Now the plastic gadget, kind of amusing, since I generally do not own many kitchen gadgets to share two items in one Post. Ironically, this second one, the ‘Avocado Smasher’ I obtained upon moving back to Philadelphia from Arizona. It was at a Tupperware Party, one of my first invitations to attend a party, and this ‘Avocado Smasher’ was part of the Chinese Auction. Oh, and how I remember it clearly. There was some woman at the party that kept taking it away from me during deliberations. I was so frustrated thinking to myself like sure, like she is ever going to need an avocado smasher, people still didn’t even know how to make guacamole in Philadelphia. In fact, at that time, before the avocado revolution many people in Philadelphia didn’t even know what an avocado was, not to mention for a short time before finally making their debut, I had to literally buy fresh tortilla chips at a gourmet shop, this is true. Thankfully, I won the round and the ‘Avocado Smasher’ has been a faithful companion along the guacamole trail in my kitchen for over thirty years, I only wash it by hand.
The great find of the Tortilla Frying Basket sort of eases the pain on the continuing decline of the orderly stacked items from my pantry now sitting all about the Dining Room, not the least being a perfect distraction in being able to share this delightfully colorful dish filled with lots of different flavors that all blend so well together. Still, with all long lost kitchen gadgets now in view and full inventory long completed, I’m eager to move along in this process, but this time around as I move all of the food and equipment back into the pantry, I’m keeping the ‘Tortilla Frying Basket’ on a shelf right up front in full view.
Building a Shredded Pork Tortilla Salad:
- slow cooker for pork, metal tortilla fryer basket (see photo above), deep fryer or large deep cast iron pan large enough to fit tortilla fryer basket with tortilla, baking sheet lined with paper towels
- 4 pound pork roast, more or less
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 4 cups cold water
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 2 scallions, white and green parts very finely chopped
- 6 flour tortillas, medium size
- canola oil for frying
- 2 ripe avocados, skinned, large seed removed, mashed until smooth, combined with juice of one lime
- 1 lime, seeded and juiced (stirred into mashed avocados)
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 1/2 plum tomato, seeded, diced into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons diced red onion
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1 15 1/2 ounce can re-fried beans
- 1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- 2 scallions, green and white part, very finely chopped
- 6 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 cups romaine lettuce, sliced very thinly into ribbons then quartered
- 1/8 cup sour cream
- Into a small bowl combine salt, cumin, coriander, cayenne, chili powder and pepper, stir to combine. Place pork into slow cooker then rub the spice mixture on the top of the pork and all over. Pour four cups of cold water into the bottom of the slow cooker then plop in 2 chicken bouillon cubes on the bottom of each side of the pot, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours until pork is very tender and easily shredded. Remove pork from slow cooker placing into a large bowl just cooling to the touch, then shred pork, pulling meat apart into strands using a fork. Using a small ladle pour some of the liquid remaining in the slow cooker onto the pulled pork in the bowl and stir lightly with a fork, continue adding more liquid to just fully moisten the meat throughout. Stir in chopped jalapeno and 2 finely chopped scallions through the moistened pork.
- Heat canola oil in a deep fryer or a large deep cast iron pan deep enough to hold the tortilla frying basket. One tortilla at a time center a tortilla onto the bottom part of the metal basket gently tucking in without tearing the tortilla. Set the insert top of the tortilla basket into the lower piece with the fitted tortilla then lower basket into oil and fry until golden about three to four minutes. Set aside each fried tortilla basket onto paper towels lined on top a cookie sheet. Use care when removing fried tortillas as both the basket and tortillas will be very hot right out of the fryer. Set aside cooked tortilla baskets until ready for assembly.
- Mash avocado to smooth then squeeze in the fresh lime juice and stir well. Stir in the tomato, the fresh chopped cilantro, and salt. Check seasoning adding in more salt according to taste. Set aside until ready to assemble.
- Pour the canned re-fried beans into a saute pan and turn on very low heat, stir in chopped fresh jalapeno pepper and 2 finely chopped scallions.
- Spoon about two tablespoons of re-fried beans into the bottom of each fried tortilla cup. Top beans with around a quarter cup each thin strips of romaine lettuce. Next, layer on a couple spoonfuls of the shredded pork in the small amount of liquid broth, sprinkle on shredded cheddar cheese, then dollop on a spoonful of the fresh guacamole with a dot of sour cream. Sprinkle with the fresh chopped tomatoes evenly distributed around the outer circumference surrounding the guacamole then finish sprinkling all about fresh chopped cilantro then garnishing with fresh cilantro leaves and a wedge of fresh lime.