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  • What's Sr Gregor Eating Now? - Pulled pork chimichangas

    Self-proclaimed kitchen hobbyist Sr Gregor experiments with slow-cooking some pork, then frying it up in a pan.

    I'm starting to really fall in love my slow-cooker, but on some level I fell like I'm cheating. There's nearly no technique or skill involved - beyond combining the ingredients, setting the temp, and mainly leaving it alone. So, in order to avoid making it too easy on myself, I took a pork shoulder that I slow cooked, and used it as the basis for some chimichangas - my wife would call them taquitos, but they're too big, and they're in flour tortillas, so chimis sounds more right.

    The ingredients for this one were pretty simple. To be honest, you could do up the pork and serve it with rice and beans and call it a night (and in an upcoming article, I do pretty much that). To start with, get your pork shoulder, season and oil it, and put a nice sear on that bad boy. It's not necessarily required, but color = flavor, and you'll get a more earthy tone to the mix when it all melanges together.

    This recipe is also one of the first ones I've done without cribbing a recipe from somewhere else. I had a general idea of the flavors I wanted in it, based on past things I've eaten, so it's not I randomly trip on my spice rack and threw in anything that gave me a welt, but by and large this is my own creation in that no one taught me this recipe... I just kinda made it up.

    Once you get a good golden roast color to all sides, plunk it down in your slow cooker. Pour in a cup of orange juice, 1/3rd a cup of ground cumin, a few cloves of smashed garlic (you can dice or slice or mince it if you want, but it's going to cook so long that simply breaking it up so that the oils can seep out is sufficient), and enough chicken stock to just come up to the top edge of the roast.

    When I'd left the Safeway (regional grocery chain), there was a guy who was roasting jalapenos, so I bought a bag and used four of these, sliced long-ways and deseeded. Layer them on top, set your slow cooker to high, cover, and go away for an hour.

    After that hour, come back, uncover and rotate the pork so the dry end is submerged, set the cooker to low, and leave for another 4-6 hours. Now, this is where over at Cracked, John Cheese's Rule #1 comes in - leave it the hell alone. If you poke and prod it throughout the cooking process, you'll A - let heat escape, which makes the cooking take longer, and B - you'll get confused. Pork roast tends to toughen up as it cooks - the cells first begin to dehydrate, squeezing the cells and making it hard as worn leather. Then, magically, right around the fourth hour, all the connective tissues and fats render to liquid, and the juices from all of your seasoning and liquids pour throughout, and the meat becomes so tender you can shred it with a fork and very little effort.And that's just what you'll do. Get a large strainer, plunk the pork into it, and lay it over your cooker bowl (which you've now turned off). As you shred the shoulder, the juices can be saved as a braising broth for some other meal if you like, or, if you weren't making chimis, you could simply soak the shredded meat back in it and use it as sauce for your meal. However, since the next time we see this pork, we'll be deep-frying it, it's better to let it drain a bit.

    Letting the pork cool for a bit, now's a good time to prep your other filling - the black bean "salad". For this, we're taking some cooked and cooled black beans (we'll go over that in the other article I mentioned), and mixing them with some chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Stir well to get a good mix of the ingredients, then set aside.

    Now we're getting o putting this all together. Grab some sizable flour tortillas, and roll a mix of the beans and the pork, closing them up with a toothpick or two.

    Now, a classic chimi usually rolls up the ends. I decided not to go that route this time around, going for a taquito-ish open end on both sides. This may or may not have been a mistake... I haven't decided, tbh.

    Now, take a deep-skillet, and pour in an inch or so of vegetable oil. You'll want to get this oil hot, really hot. You'll know it's ready when you just start to wisps of vapor coming up from the pool of oil, and if you drop a tiny piece of tortilla in it, it'll begin sizzling immediately.

    When you place the chimis in the oil, I recommend using proper tongs. You can do with a fork, but you're asking for trouble. For starters, forks won't let you lay the chimis in slowly, easing them in, and for two, you'll end up with your bare hand really close to the oil if (when) it starts to spatter. Finally, it's easier to kep the chimi together when rolling it in the oil.

    Remember how those chimis were open ended? That did a couple of things. 1 - anything that contained any moisture (i.e. the beans, the onions, the lime juice, the pork) that comes into contact with that oil will immediately begin to spit, sputter and pop. That also meant that the outer layer of meat/bean mix served up drier than the middle, and finally, it allowed more oil to seep throughout the chimis, which results in a slightly greasier meal than you might want.

    Anyways, your oil will start getting the side of the tortilla golden. You'll want to roll the chimis over to get both sides of the tortilla cooked, and once they're done, take them out and set them on paper towels to drain any additional grease and let the meats cool a bit. When they're ready, top them with some traditional stuff - avocada, cheese (I use queso cotija - with having just fried them, and their base being pork to begin with, I wanted something not-oily), some salsa, and maybe a dollop of sour cream.

    Overall, this one was a success. The flavors were awesome, and the meat flavors shone through. My one consideration next time around will be sealing the ends. The beans in particular liked popping and scalding my arms as I cooked, and I think more of the meat juice will be retained if it can't leak out of the ends.

    Anyways, eat up, hope you enjoy, and if you have any comments of questions about these recipe, ask away!