The original idea for this recipe came when I found some pork shoulder left in the freezer intended for sausage, but ultimately not destined to become something that labor-intensive. It needed to be used, and I needed to be able to walk away from it for several hours and come back to dinner done.

Typically, a pulled-pork recipe begins with a whole shoulder. If you have one and don’t feel like cutting it up, that’s fine; just increase the cooking time by at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mine was already cut up, and I found that because I could sear more surface area of the pork, this dish had terrific flavor and the added advantage of not needing quite so long to cook, although it still does require some time.

I served this meal with an avocado, tomato and spinach salad tossed with olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Also on the menu that night was steamed rice, black beans and pico de gallo. All paired well, but aren’t necessary. A simple salad will suffice if you are after a more straightforward dinner.

CHIPOTLE PORK SHOULDER

WITH PINEAPPLE AND ORANGE PEPPER SALSA

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 11/2 inch cubes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup diced onion, about 1/2 a large onion

1 cup diced green pepper, about 1/2 a large pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups canned diced tomatoes

1 dried chipotle pepper

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 cups water

2 cups pineapple stock (instructions below)

Remove the rind and core from the flesh of the pineapple. Set the pineapple aside for the salsa recipe. Place the rind and core (but not the “tree top”) in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to 2 cups of liquid. Either transfer the 2 cups to the pork pan or set aside until you are to that point of the recipe.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and carefully add the pork. Sear on all sides until brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the onions, pepper and salt, and cook until tender and translucent, another 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, including the 2 cups of pineapple juice/stock and bring to a simmer. At this point, you could transfer everything to a crockpot or watch everything more carefully on the stove. If you decide to keep it on the stove, cover. Simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and mashable with a fork.

Use two forks or a potato masher to break the meat up. If there is still a lot of liquid in the pan, simmer uncovered until the mixture is looking more like a filling and less like a soup.

Serves 4 to 6 (or 6 to 8 with several other accompaniments like rice, beans and a salad).

PINEAPPLE AND ORANGE PEPPER SALSA

If you don’t have fresh pineapple for this recipe, don’t bother with the canned; make another salsa instead. The difference is notable.

2 cups finely diced pineapple

1 cup diced orange pepper, about 1 pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Can be made up to one hour ahead. Makes about 3 cups.

CORN TORTILLAS

To make tortillas, you need either fresh masa or masa harina. In Maine, it’s pretty uncommon for us to be able to find fresh masa, which is freshly ground corn that has been processed with lime. Masa is very perishable and needs to be used fresh. Masa harina – dehydrated, powdered masa – is almost as good and way better than the grocery store variety.

Make sure, however, that you are not buying cornmeal or polenta meal. Masa harina is finer in grain and more regular in color than corn meal. You can usually find it in either the specialty foods section or the bulk section of your grocery store.

If you have leftover tortillas, you can use them in soup like you would pasta. Just tear them into bite-sized pieces with your hands and let them simmer in the broth for about 5 minutes before you serve.

Two to three tortillas per person is about the right amount per person for a full meal.

1 3/4 cup masa harina

1 1/4 cups hot water

Combine the masa harina and water in a bowl and let sit covered for 30 minutes. Add more cool water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is workable but not too sticky. It should be pliable and easily rolled into a ball without sticking to your hands or cracking on the edges when you try to flatten it. If it’s too sticky, sprinkle with a little more masa; if it’s cracking when you try to roll it, then sprinkle water onto the dough until it comes together well.

Divide the dough into 15 golf-ball sized rounds and cover with plastic wrap, as they tend to dry out quickly. To press, use a plastic bag cut down to size and fit it over the tortilla press. Test in the press to be sure its not too sticky or too dry.

Heat a griddle or skillet that fits over two burners. One side should be medium-low and one side medium-high heat. Once the tortilla is pressed, peel it off the plastic and flip onto the low-heat side for about 1 minute. Don’t fret if the first couple bomb. You will get the hang of it just like with pancakes and crepes. It will stick initially and then come loose.

If you leave it too long on this side, it will tend to dry out. Then with your fingers or a spatula, flip to the higher-heat side for about 1 minute or until it’s browned a bit. Then flip again onto the high side and brown the other side.

Transfer to a cloth-lined basket and cover with the cloth. They are better when they’ve rested for about 10 minutes and steamed a bit in their own heat.

If you need to reheat them, place the tortillas wrapped in cloth in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

Makes 15 tortillas.

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea,” a recipe book about her experiences cooking aboard the family’s windjammer. She can be reached at: [email protected]