Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beef Tacos with Pomegranate Mojo

Tacos are a dinner staple here at Chez W. They're the perfect meal, accommodating leftovers of all shapes and sizes, customizable for picky Mr.W while suiting my taste buds, and easy portion-control of meat, beans, veggies and dairy.

I'm never bored with tacos.

Lately, though, I've been missing Key West. I lived there from 1995 to 2000, and loved the breezes rolling off the water, passing ocean vistas on my way to work every day and giving up my supply of cold-weather socks for sandals and light-colored clothing. The food is fantastic--especially when you become an honorary local. That's when you get clued in to the small joints, the mom-and-pop diners and bakeries that serve the best of the best. The deli that makes the best Cuban mix. Finding that a perfect loaf of Cuban bread is worth waiting in line at 6am. The shop that sells homemade ice cream in dozens of flavors. The street vendor who makes the most delicious cup of cafe con leche that leaves my mouth watering even now, almost a decade later.

It makes me sigh just thinking about it, especially given the chilly and rainy weather we continue to experience here in Central New York.

With thoughts of Key West dancing through my brain and staring into my refrigerator to find pomegranate juice that the folks at POM Wonderful sent, inspiration hit.

Mojo. (Pronounced mo-ho.) It's that magical elixr of juice and spices that permeates Cuban roast pork and Ropa Vieja. It's the condiment on every Key West table for drizzling into salads and over beans and rice. It's actual name is mojo criollo, but most South Floridians just call it mojo.

Only I made mine with pomegranate juice.

A good mojo is more involved than making a simple vinaigrette--you have to cook it for perfection. I adapted this recipe to make my version.

Pomegranate Mojo (Criollo)
adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/6 cup lime juice (key lime juice would be perfect here)
1/6 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried mexican oregano
pinch salt
several grinds black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced

Combine juices, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Warm olive oil in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic and swirl; allow to sizzle until fragrant--about 30 seconds. Immediately (and carefully) add juice mixture and cover. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat to cool completely.

For the beef tacos, I simply cooked a beef chuck roast in the pressure cooker with a sliced vidalia onion, salt and pepper, and a mixture of water and pomegranate juice (about 1 cup of each), with a splash of my pomegranate mojo for flavor. The roast went for about 35 minutes at full pressure for tender goodness. You could use any leftover beef you like, or even ground beef, cooked chicken or tender flaked fish.

The meat was cut into chunks and sprinkled liberally with pomegranate mojo for flavor. This is to taste--go lightly; you can always add more. Pile onto flour tortillas with your favorite taco fixins and enjoy.


Mary said...

Oh my that looks fantastic! I've only had mojo once and it was delicious. Making it with pomegranate makes it sound even better!

Amanda said...

Thanks, Mary!

The very best mojo I ever had was made with grapefruit juice instead of sour orange. It really was fantastic. I think the citrus is a huge factor--but I wanted to give it a different twist, and the pomegranate definitely did that.

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