I’ve got a way to make your Monday better.
How about a little trip down to Tijuana?
Ok, ok, for most of us a little trip over the border is probably not possible, but we can eat like we are there, and then dream a little about it in the process.
Or at least that is what I did, because um, you know… it snowed all day yesterday. Surprise, surprise.
In full disclosure, I have never been to Tijuana, or Mexico either for that matter. The truth is this name just kind of popped into my head and I built a recipe off it.
I do know that street food is very popular down in Tijuana and that their food trucks are crazy awesome.
I feel like these fries are something that should be served down in Tijuana.
Also, let’s start counting how many times I say Tijuana throughout this post. Guaranteed it’s gonna be a lot, because well – it’s just a fun word. Especially on this cold, dreary and snowy Monday.
So, this recipe is kind of long. Like really long, BUT please do not let that scare you off because it is too good. While there are a lot of ingredients, most of them are dried spices. You obviously do not need to make your own fries, salsa and queso, but none of it is hard or time-consuming so if I were you I would try and go the homemade route, if you can.
Especially for the queso. It’s so simple and so good.
I was “this” (picture me pinching my thumb and index finger together) close to actually frying my fries, but then I just got lazy and decided to bake them. I guess it’s healthier this way, but if you want to try frying them I think that would be awesome too.
Alright, now I have to ask?
The people who have been to Tijuana, what’s it like? Please tell me your stories so I can live vicariously through you?? My Monday could really use some excitement.
Or just some more Mexican. That always seems to perk things up a bit.
I am thinking that with Cinco de Mayo being exactly a week from today that there needs to be some serious Mexican food going on over the next week. What do you think?
Oh, and have you guys noticed my back to back use of tequila on Mondays?
I think I need a little intervention….
Or maybe not. I mean, it’s Monday after all. We need something to get us through. Or maybe we should just all skip town and head to Tijuana for lunch?
- 3-4 pounds pork shoulder roast (or butt)
- 1 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt + pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup tequila (or water)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 large or 2 small chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Salsa (or use your favorite salsa)
- 8 dried guajillo chiles (or a mix of guajillo, ancho chiles, chipotle chiles and habanero chiles)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound tomatillos (or about 5), peeled
- 1 (14 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled (if desired) and sliced into thin 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch (thick) strips
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 10 ounces oaxaca cheese, shredded
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 avocados, mashed with a pinch of salt and pepper, squirt of lime juice + chopped cilantro
- pickled or fresh jalapeno slices
- sour cream or greek yogurt
- fresh cilantro
- Cajita Cheese
Combine seasonings (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, onion powder, chipotle chili powder, oregano, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder & cinnamon) together in a bowl and mix until combined. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Rub the pork all over with about 1/3 of the seasonings. Once hot, add pork and sear on all sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).
Add the pork to the crockpot and sprinkle with remaining seasonings all over. Pour in water, tequila, orange juice, honey and chipotle chilies, then cook on low for 8-12 hours. Check once or twice if possible. Before serving, use forks or kitchen tongs to shred pork in the crock pot. Mix to combine with the remaining liquid in the crockpot. Keep warm until ready to use.
This can also be placed in an oven safe dutch oven and cooked at 350 degrees F for 3-4 hours or until tender. You may need to add more liquid during cooking. Shred as directed.
Preheat your broiler to high.
Place the tomatillos on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes or until the tomatillos are charred all over. Remove from the oven and place in a food processor or high powered blender
Use a pair of scissors to cut the stem off the chiles. Cut them open lengthwise and remove their seeds. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and place the garlic cloves (still in their paper/skins) near the edge. Place the chiles on the skillet. Working in batches, toast for 30 seconds or less per side. (Let the garlic continue to cook while you are toasting all the chiles).
Peel the skin away from the garlic and add the garlic + toasted chiles to a food processor with the tomatillos. Add the canned tomatoes. Puree until smooth. Stream in the olive oil. Season with salt and fresh cilantro. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or grease with a little olive oil.
Cut each potato into very thin fries, lengthwise no more than a quarter-inch thick. In a large bowl, toss the fries with olive oil. I think I used about 2 tablespoons. Add the salt and pepper and arrange the fries in single layer without crowding them (this is very important - I used two baking sheets).
Bake for 20 minutes, remove and toss, then bake for 15-20 minutes longer. I like to start checking them at 15 minutes and make sure that none are burning or getting too crisp.
Add the half and half and cream cheese to a medium size sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a low bowl and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring until the cream cheese is mostly melted. Add the shredded oaxaca and sharp cheddar cheeses. Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth. Stir in the chipotle chiles and chopped cilantro. This can be made ahead and gently reheated on the stove or in the oven until smooth and creamy.
Divide the fries among 4 plates or bowls and drizzle them with a little of the queso. Top each with a serving of carnitas and then dollop with some mashed avocado. Add sour cream or greek yogurt, jalapeño slices, cajita cheese and cilantro. Drizzle with the salsa + more queso. EAT!
*To make this recipe less involved feel free to use store bought frozen fries, salsa and queso if needed. I of course recommend going the homemade route, only if you have time though!
Yup, let’s do that. See you on the other side of the border!