Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Party On! - 21st Century Taco Salad

I don't know about you but we love to throw a good party! But, parties are expensive! I have thrown together many a party in my time and have served everything from spaghetti and meatballs to quick pantry throw together meals. We just enjoy opening up our home, no matter what shape it may be in, to those that we love. I believe that feeding others is really a way to nourish ones soul and I love pouring out my love to others through meals.
One of the classic party meals I remember from growing up was taco salads. You know the ones I am talking about, where items like Frito's, shredded coconut and Catalina dressing were part of the toppings. What a strange mix! We work with our youth at church and I believe that I if I tried to serve those items as part of a taco bar they might walk out on me. Well, I think I have found a solution to updating the old classic and still being very budget friendly!! Please welcome the burrito bowl. The idea comes from our new local joint, Chiptole. They are known for fresh food and flavors. My favorite meat on their menu is the pulled shredded pork, aka, carnitas. It has the perfect velvet texture when mixed with crunchy lettuce and creamy black beans. If you don't like pork, get over yourself. Kidding, you can use this cooking method on chicken I am sure...but you will be sorry :) That will probably cost you a lot more and will not be as lovely.
So drum roll please....I bring you Brooke's Burrito Bowl, aka, 21st Century Taco Salad!! (enough for 4 adults but can easily and quickly be multiplied)
(bear in mind, there are a few steps but they can quickly be done ahead of time and either quickly reheated or pulled from the fridge)

Fake Carnitas (you will notice that there is not a strong Mexican seasoning with this. I only used half of the butt that I bought so I mildly flavored it so that I can turn it into something else)
1-2-3lb pork butt (a 8-9 lb butt would serve 15-20, just double the cumin, pepper and garlic)
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 package of Lipton onion soup mix
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
(If you are using all of this meat for this dish and want to make it more authentic, add 2 chilies in adobo sauce chopped, 1 small can of tomato sauce and double the cumin to 2 tsp)
Throw all of this into a crockpot and let it simmer for 8 hours. Turn the heat off and let it rest, then remove from the pan and shred into a bowl. Spoon 1/4 cup of cooking juice over the top. Cover and wait for serving.

1 Can black beans- just open them up, pour them into a pan and add 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp garlic salt. Allow them to simmer on low. If you are serving a larger crowd then multiply as needed.

1 cup white rice- cook according to package instructions adding in 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning and 1/2 tsp cumin.
Once it is cooked add in:
Juice of one lime
2-3 Tbps fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 cup thawed frozen sweet corn (double as needed)

1 head thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Sour cream
grated sharp cheddar
avocado slices
tortilla chips

Set all ingredients out for your buffet line. You can add any topping you want including sliced black olives or fresh chopped cilantro and sliced limes. The idea is to layer this way: Rice, beans, meat, corn, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, salsa and chips are on the side.

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