26 March 2012

Eats: Mexican pork stew

I mentioned last week that although I adore the warm weather, the one downside is that I still have a few cooler-weather recipes to share with you guys. And no, I cannot save them for next fall. I can barely remember the things I was going to tell you about this week and they just happened.

But considering how warm it’s been, today is relatively cool, yes? And perhaps all my imaginary Canadian and Icelandic readers will want to prepare this recipe this week! The rest of you guys may just want to fire up your crockpots.

This dish comes from two inspirations: first, the fact that I always seem to have leftover shredded pork to use up. I don’t always slather the pork with barbecue sauce before cooking it; usually, I season it lightly (salt, pepper, garlic) and then re-season the leftovers for other dishes. And a stew is perfect for leftover shredded meat of any kind! Enter second inspiration: this creamy chicken stew. Instead of making it creamy comfort food this time, however, I wanted to use more Mexican flavors this time.

So... I went with Mexican Rice-a-Roni. Hey, that was an easy transformation!

I used the same volume of liquid that was called for on the box, but instead of water I used chicken broth. Oh, and like the beef and broccoli last week, I did this in my cast iron Le Creuset, but if I were to make this tomorrow (high of 84!) I’d use my crockpot to keep the oven off.

Then I added in a 15 oz. can of tomatoes with green chiles (like Rotel, but the name brand only comes in a 10 oz. can) and 12 oz. of frozen veggies (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, onions, and celery). Those veggies... do not feel “Mexican”. But I am insistent on veggies, so in they went!

No extra seasoning required; the seasoning in the rice and the spice in the tomatoes takes care of the veggies, too!

Then it went in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes... or again, you could turn your crockpot on high for a couple of hours instead because it is so freaking hot outside.

After a half hour, I pulled it out and added the previously-cooked, previously-shredded pork:

And stuck it back in the oven for another fifteen minutes or so, just enough to get the pork flavorful and heated through. But if you don’t have shredded pork, or shredded anything – you can cook it in the rice and veggies! Just throw it in at the beginning!

On the other hand, if you are one of my vegetarian readers, I think this would be a delicious stew without the meat. If Mr. P wasn’t such a bean-hater, I’d have thrown in some chili or black beans. I bet that is super tasty, too!

Anyway, once the time is up...

Mmm, so tasty. And easy! And really inexpensive! Aside from the meat – assuming you’re hunting for ways to use up leftover meat, like me – this only requires a box of instant rice, a bag of frozen veggies, a can of broth, and a can of tomatoes. That’s under $4 for a pot full of tasty meals!

Of course, the price – and calorie count – goes up when you add sour cream and cheese...

But they’re so worth it, right?

So the next cool, rainy day – or the next day you have some leftover meat to use up – hopefully this can spice up your dinner. Enjoy!