A lot of people are obsessed with Wahaca’s pork pibil tacos and want to find out if they’re gluten-free. I know because it’s the most searched item on Food Dorks. And who can blame them? Pork pibil tacos are mouthwatering parcels of tender deliciousness and I order them every time I go to Wahaca, without fail. (And, yes, the Wahaca recipe is gluten-free!)
So I know people will understand my launching on a crusade to find an easy way to make (or better yet, buy) gluten-free corn tortillas to make pork pibil at home so I can eat tacos all the time.
I have a Thomasina Miers’ cookbook, Mexican Food Made Simple, but she has cleverly omitted her most popular taco recipe so I’ve had to do a lot more searching. (Tommi does include recipes for refried beans, tortillas, pickled pink onions and other Mexican essentials so the book is still highly recommended!)
The best looking recipe I’ve found on the interwebs is this one from Food.People.Want. (Cheers buddy!)
So, after a lot of homework, I had recipes but I still needed ingredients and these are not easy to come by in the UK. My search for ingredients led me to Mex Grocer… which led me to spending about 40 pounds on dried chillies, Mexican spices, tortillas, black beans, banana leaves, mesa harina, and marinades. These magic ingredients, when combined with humble rice, pork, onions and garlic make the most amazing food to be sampled on the planet. The Mex Grocer delivery was speedy and the products were great, especially the gluten-free soft tortillas. Believe it or not but the hardest thing to source to make a Mexican feast was fresh bay leaves; Tesco and Sainsbury’s do not stock them so I had to drive across town to Waitrose to get some.
After all the effort of gathering the ingredients I let myself down by not cooking the pork in a “dutch oven” or what i imagine is a cast iron pot like a Le Creuset. I don’t own one and didn’t feel like forking out on one. So the pork was not tender and melt-in-the-mouth as you get at Wahaca but it tasted just as delicious. The stars of the dish really seemed to be the toppings; pink pickled onions, the refried black beans and fresh sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro).
Nevertheless, the goodies I picked up at mexgrocer.co.uk are a very welcome addition to my kitchen. Although it took a bit of effort, my batch of Thomasina Miers’ chipotles en adobo is smokey, tangy and delicious. Her refried black beans also took a lot of time and blending but the result was so tasty we ate til we were far too full to do anything for the rest of the afternoon. Siesta time!
Alright, I have to confess that I wrote the above MONTHS ago (Hi! I’m back. *waves*). Since then I have tried again and this time I nailed the recipe. My hot tips are:
- you don’t need banana leaves.
- you DO need a cast iron pot so the meat slow-cooks in the oven and all of the juices are sealed in. Since the failed attempt I got this beautiful teal Cook’s Collection pot from Sainsbury’s. The colour is a nice happy bright teal and it reminds me of Tommi’s book and the bright colours of Mexican decorations so it’s perfect to prep a Mexican feast.
- You don’t need dried black beans and hours of soaking as per Tommi’s recipe. Just use tinned black beans. I got some in a tetra pack from Sainsbury’s. I threw a batch of black beans together in about 20 minutes while I boiled some rice and they tasted amazing.
- DON’T add salt to boiling beans until they are nearly ready. Salt makes them go hard.
- You do need epazote for black beans though, or at least anise seeds or star anise as a substitute.
- Dried bay leaves are fine. You don’t need fresh.
- Don’t skip the pink pickled onions. They pull the whole dish together. I prefer Tommi’s recipe for these – although again, I cut the time down to about 15 minutes.
- The Mex Grocer tortillas are fantastic. Last weekend I tried to make my own with the masa harina I bought and it was an almighty failure. Does anyone know how to stop tortillas from going hard in the frying pan? I’ve always struggled with pancakes and tortillas!
- Tommi Miers has a new book coming out in 2012 so keep an eye out to see if it has all the recipes you need before you buy the first book
Let me know if this has been helpful in the comments section. Thanks!