Pork picadillo teamed with tortilla bowls makes for super fare A Winning Lineup

January 23, 1994|By Marlene Sorosky | Marlene Sorosky,Contributing Writer

I once made the mistake of remarking to my husband that the Super Bowl was just another game. His reaction was unprintable. One would have thought I had denigrated flag, mother and apple pie. I've since become a wiser woman.

Super Bowl Sunday, as almost everyone must now be aware, has taken on mythic proportions in our culture. Witness the fact that for three hours, from coast to coast, life as we know it goes into a state of suspended reality. Streets become deserted. Retail business slows to a snail's pace. And a gazillion TV screens are focused on a single image of American gladiators engaged in bone-crunching battle for the world championship of football.

Now rivaling New Year's Eve as a reason for parties and revelry, Super Bowl mania has a way of turning even dolts like me who don't know a punt from a pickle into die-hard superfans for a day. But, whether it's love of sport or love of party that brings friends and fanatics together on this fifth Sunday in January, a wise and creative host can score points with all the players.

For a pregame warm-up, be sure to have lots of munchies on hand. Borrow the kids' football helmets, line them with colored cellophane wrap and fill with popcorn, pretzels and chips. And what's a football game without beer? Set up an ice-filled cooler or galvanized tub with a selection of beers, lagers, ales and non-alcoholic brews from around the world. You might find an animated beer-tasting contest with connoisseurs ranking their favorites replacing the usual half-time festivities on television.

For the main course, my bowl pick is pork picadillo, a chili-like dish made with shredded pork and spices that are tempered with a tantalizing sweetening of raisins and cinnamon.

It's served up in individual baked tortilla bowls and garnished with all the traditional chili toppers -- shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream -- plus a zesty pineapple papaya salsa.

This one-dish, one-utensil meal can be prepared well in advance and served buffet-style to a multitude. Add a side dish of black beans with onions and balsamic vinegar and a post-game wrap-up of a margarita ice cream torte and you've got the makings of one world champion of a party.

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Pork picadillo

Preparation time: 30 minutes. Bake time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Advance preparation: Pork may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.

Makes 10 servings.

PICADILLO:

nonstick cooking spray

2 pounds lean pork stew meat (shoulder or leg), cut into 2-inch cubes

2 large onions, chopped

2 cans (28 ounces) whole tomatoes

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup cider vinegar

4 teaspoons hot chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste

1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

baked tostada cups for serving, see recipe

CONDIMENTS:

pineapple-papaya salsa, see recipe

1 cup shredded lettuce

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 cup sour cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of oven-proof Dutch oven or heavy saucepan with nonstick spray and heat over high heat until hot.

Add pork and saute, stirring often until browned, about 10 minutes. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Break up tomatoes and add them with liquid from 1 can of the tomatoes to the pork. Discard remaining liquid. Stir garlic, raisins, vinegar and spices into pork and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until meat is very tender and shreds easily. When cool, shred pork with 2 forks.

(The pork may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to one month. Reheat on top of stove or in microwave.)

While picadillo bakes, make tostada cups and salsa. Prepare condiments.

To serve: Spoon pork into tostada cups. Pass salsa and other condiments.

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Pineapple-papaya salsa

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Chill time: 30 minutes. Advance preparation: Salsa may be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Makes 3 cups

1 jalapeno chili, seeded

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 large or 2 small green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped papaya, mango or oranges

2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 3/4 -inch chunks

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

In a food processor with the metal blade, process jalapeno and garlic until minced.

Add green onion and pulse until chopped. Add papaya, pineapple, lime juice and salt and pulse until chopped into small pieces. Be careful not to process too fine: It should be chunky.

Remove to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. (The salsa may be refrigerated up to 3 days.)

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Baked tostada cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes. Advance preparation: Cups may be stored at room temperature up to 2 days or frozen.

Makes 10 tostada cups

10 (6- to 8-inch) flour tortillas, (regular, not light)

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