Pulled Pork Pumpkin Mole Bowls

I recently partnered up with SALSAOLOGY to host an incredible weekend giveaway. They make incredibly flavorful cooking sauces that can be incorporated into an endless array of traditional and non-traditional recipes. My favorite part about them is that you can taste the love and history in each jar. It doesn’t matter that mole wasn’t a part of my childhood, because the history and sentiment was still there. Right now through December 5th visit this link to save 25% on your entire SALSAOLOGY purchase. 

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With the holidays right around the corner everyone is planning and prepping and cooking their favorite family recipes and meals. Meals that are made better by the tradition, memory, and history that goes into each step. In my home growing up this meant a fusion of cultures; Turkey and Ropa Vieja. Plantains and mashed potatoes. My grandmother would often ship out huge boxes of baked goods and her incredible naca tamales. I can still remember running home from school in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas and finding my mom unpacking all those wonderful treats.

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If my family had a particularly large get-together, the women would all gather in the kitchen and begin making all these wonderful and flavorful meals from Nicaragua. Often these were humble dishes born out of hard times and creative necessity. I loved them because they were so vastly different and they came with stories of my family’s history in Central America. These meals were prepared with laughter and love. I would watch intently as these women worked with deft fingers kneading dough, shaping cookies, preparing masa. Their accents would grow a bit stronger and Spanish would begin to flow into their sentences.

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No matter where I am, this time of year I find myself longing for those moments. I learned to cook amidst all that history and joy and it felt as thought I’d been welcomed into a secret club. These days my grandmother does not have the energy she once did to send out massive care packages to the family. It’s getting harder and harder to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Since I moved to Los Angeles I’m a bit further away from everyone and I won’t get to be a part of that magic quite as much this year. And I don’t bring this up to dampen your holiday spirits. Rather, I mentioned it because I know I’m not alone with this reality and because I found a meal that gave me a bit of that comfort back—even though I prepared it alone in my little kitchen.

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SALSAOLOGY ‘s Limited Edition Pumpkin Mole is rich with flavor and spices. It has a hint of sweetness and I’m not ashamed to admit I ate a few spoonfuls of it to “test it out”. I thought it would be perfect to braise some pork in, letting the meat slowly cook in the oven until it fell apart if you gave it a stern enough glance. For the rice I pureed a poblano pepper with onion, garlic, lime, and cilantro to give it color and flavor. Then I fried up some green and very ripe plantains like my mother taught me, along with some salty cotija cheese. As I ate, I was able to revive and connect with some of that wonderful history that comes from a meal steeped in tradition. I was flooded with happy memories spent in the kitchen with those wonderful women.

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This is what comfort food means to me. It takes you to a welcoming and familiar place, no matter what turmoil is swirling within or without.

This post was sponsored by SALSAOLOGY but all the words and sentiments are my own.

Pulled Pork Pumpkin Mole Bowls
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Ingredients
  2. Makes 4 large or 6 smaller portions
  3. For the Pulled Pork
  4. 2 lbs. pork shoulder
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  7. 1 Tbsp. butter
  8. 1 small onion, chopped
  9. 5 whole garlic cloves, skin removed
  10. 2 cups vegetable or pork stock
  11. 1 12 oz. Jar SALSAOLOGY Pumpkin Mole
  12. For the Rice
  13. 1 poblano pepper, seeds and stem removed
  14. ¼ cup onion
  15. 2 cloves garlic
  16. Zest from one lime
  17. ½ cup cilantro
  18. 3 Tbsp. butter
  19. 1 ½ cups rice
  20. 3 cups vegetable stock* (or however much you need for the type of rice you’re making)
  21. 1 tsp. cumin
  22. Salt
  23. For the Beans
  24. 2 15oz. can black beans
  25. 1 cup vegetable stock
  26. 2 cloves minced garlic
  27. ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  28. Salt and pepper
  29. For Everything Else
  30. 1 green plantain, thinly sliced
  31. Salt
  32. 1 very ripe plantain, sliced into pieces ¼ in. thick (look for one with a very black peel)
  33. 6 slices cotija cheese, cut into ½ inch thick wedges
  34. Vegetable oil for frying
  35. For Serving
  36. Chopped cilantro
  37. Lime wedges
  38. Crumbled queso fresco
  39. Avocado
  40. Hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Make the Pulled Pork
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Trim pork of any excess fat and cut into 3-4 inch chunks.
  4. Melt olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large ovenproof pan with oven safe lid. You can use tinfoil if you pan doesn’t have a lid.
  5. Season pork with salt and pepper and brown in batches.
  6. Next, add onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Deglaze the pan with stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits.
  8. Add in the mole and give the sauce a stir.
  9. Return pork to the pan and cover. Cook for about 2-2 ½ hours or until pork is tender and falls apart.
  10. Use forks to shred the pork and mix it well in the Pumpkin Mole.
  11. Make the Rice
  12. In a food processor, puree the poblano, onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime zest. Pour in a little of the stock you will be using in the rice to help the process along.
  13. In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
  14. Add in rice and toast until golden (not burned)!
  15. Pour in pureed poblano mixture and the rest of the stock.
  16. Stir in cumin, taste-test the both and season with salt if necessary.
  17. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for the amount of time indicated on your rice package instructions.
  18. When rice is ready, fluff with fork, and leave covered until ready to serve.
  19. Make the Beans
  20. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer until beans are heated through and about ½ the liquid has evaporated. About ten minutes.
  21. Fry the Plantains and Cotija
  22. Prepare a plate lined with paper towels.
  23. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  24. Start by frying the green plantains. I used the thinnest possible setting on my mandolin.
  25. Fry green plantains in a few batches for about 3-4 minutes, until golden and crisp. drain on paper towel-lined plate and season with salt immediately.
  26. Next fry the sweet, ripe plantain. Fry in batches for about 1-2 minutes, remove, smash with for, and then cook another 2 minutes or so, until golden. Drain on paper towels.
  27. Fry the cotija last! It’s a bit messy in the oil. If you have a splatter screen this would be a good time to use it.
  28. Carefully place cotija wedges in oil (3 at a time) and fry until a deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Be very careful, the cheese is likely to splatter!
  29. To Serve
  30. Scoop rice into bowls followed by portions of beans, pulled pork, plantains, and cotija.
  31. Garnish with queso fresco, cilantro, and avocado.
  32. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce if desired.
  33. Enjoy!
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