The Larder360 Box Challenge was one that really excited me when I was first asked to be involved. Each month they will send me a cooler box of ingredients unknown to myself and I’ll attempt to put together a recipe for you all to try at home. Sometimes it’s exciting to pick up new products but then we can get a bit overwhelmed about what to do with them, so the whole point of doing this challenge is hopefully to provide you with a little inspiration of what you can try at home with the best of Larder360’s products. Regular readers of these pages are familiar with my philosophy of food; good quality ingredients treated with respect. I also particularly enjoy cuts of meat that require a little “work”. In fact that is more appropriately described as “time” than work. So I was delighted to see a beautiful piece of free-range pork neck in the cooler box for this challenge. This is a large (2.25kg) meaty cut from behind the head of the pig, has a lovely thin marbling of fat running through it and so is absolutely perfect for slow cooking, delivering mouthwateringly succulent tearaway meat. The presence in the box of the spice mix, chillis, onions, among others, pointed me firmly in the direction of Mexico and more precisely to Carnitas, slow cooked Mexican pulled pork, and serving them as tacos.
In taking one small liberty, I replaced the Wicked Blends Piri Piri Spice Rub for one of their other spice mixes that I had in my cupboard, the Mojo Rub, which is a fragrant mix of smoked paprika, cumin, chilli, garlic, and citrus zest, making it a more suitable match for my Mexican inspired meal. I added a few more spices that I had in my store cupboard but these are entirely optional and there’s great space for manoeuvring when it comes to the flavours here. I cooked this in a slow cooker which is well worth the inexpensive investment if you don’t already own one. Economical and brilliant for bringing out the best from cheaper cuts of meat, it if nothing else, conjures wondrous aromas distributing them about the house and wrapping us in a comforting blanket of promise. This is the food of family, of togetherness, of cold evenings and inky skies. Don’t worry if you don’t own a slow cooker, this can easily be done in the oven. The longer the better but 5 hours at 150°C should do the trick. This pork would work equally well with BBQ or indeed Asian flavours. Add a bottle of your favourite shop bought BBQ sauce to the pork and cook slowly for the same amount of time.
To serve as tacos, add the carnitas to mini flour or corn tortillas and top with my chargrilled tomato salsa, recipe here, my homemade guacamole, which you can find here, sour cream, a red cabbage slaw, hot sauce, cheese, or indeed whatever your heart desires.