Coppa Street Tacos

On October 7, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus


Last weekend I had a chance to stop by my favorite LA butcher, Lindy & Grundy.  They carry a selection of local, pasture raised, and organic meats. Unlike most visits, I didn’t have a plan of what I wanted to buy and found a cut of boneless pork shoulder, coppa, next to my typical bone-in pork butt that I normally put into my smoker.

Coppa is a cut I wasn’t familiar with, or at least wasn’t used to seeing it at meat counter in its raw form.  That’s what is so great about visiting Lindy & Grundy, I learn about different cuts one usually doesn’t find; although, when I arrived at home with my Coppa in hand, I looked up the cut on Google and learned it most often used to make one of my favorite cuts of cured meat – Capocollo.

I had bought the meat to make some tacos so I decided to marinate the Coppa and smoke it the next day.

The tacos worked in the end. The smoked Coppa had a smoked, bacon-like, flavor that went well with the corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, squeezed lime and Tapatio hot sauce.

Coppa Street Tacos
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds of Coppa, boneless pork shoulder
2 oranges, juice only
1 bottle brown ale, such as New Castle
4 garlic cloves, sliced in half

12 corn tortillas
1 red onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes, quartered
hot sauce

The night before cooking marinate the Coppa in a bowl mixing the orange juice, ale and garlic cloves. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare a smoker. Discard the marinade. I used some Almond Wood and smoked the Coppa at 225 degrees for 7 hours letting it reach 160 degrees.

Once the Coppa is cooked in the smoker, it can be refrigerated and used the next day or diced into small chunks and served.

Heat the corn tortillas in a saute pan on medium-high with a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil.  Let the oil get hot and using tongs heat each side of the tortilla for about 10 seconds and then place on some paper towel to remove the grease. Repeat with each tortilla.

Add Coppa, onions and cilantro to each tortilla and serve with cut limes and hot sauce.

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Spotlight On "Fresh" Orange Juice

On August 6, 2011, in Food, by Chris Baccus

One thing films like Food Inc and authors like Michael Pollan have caused me to do is ask where does my food come from. We buy 95% of our meats from a local ranch and about 40% of our food from local farmer’s markets during the late spring to early fall months. The rest of our food is bought on the perimeter of the market, basically the non-processed foods or as they are becoming known – real foods.

One of the foods we buy a lot of is fresh, not from concentrate orange juice. The ingredient label simply reads: “organic orange juice.” That’s it, but that isn’t it. A recent article from Food Renegade “The Secret Ingredient In Your Orange Juice also covered by Gizmodo Dirty Little Secret: Orange Juice is Artificially Flavored to Taste Like Oranges made me look a little deeper into what our family is drinking.

Here is a video from Australia that explains how our orange juice is made. It’s an excellent piece that applies to the U.S. and Canadian markets too.

Basically what we are drinking is aseptic juice that later gets “flavor packets” and a few other ingredients the FDA does not require orange juice producers to label, since “technically they are derived from orange essence and oil.”

Aseptic juice is squeezed fresh juice that is then heated at a very high temperature to increase its shelf, storage life allowing the juice to last 12-24 months. It also removes the nutrients and flavors of the original squeezed juice. All of that is later added from the “orange essence and oil” that isn’t on any label.

So we the consumer pay anywhere from $3.99 to $5.99 for 1 to 2 year old juice that is flavored with chemicals to return it to its previous natural state.

What to do?

I don’t like to be taken advantage of and told I’m buying x and getting y so our family is moving to higher quality and less quantity. We will be squeezing oranges.

One final note, I don’t think there is anything bad about aseptic juice. My issue is it is dishonest food and like a lot of processed food, which fresh orange juice is, it is misrepresenting itself in the marketplace and at the price we pay for it I’d rather pay slightly more for the real thing sans flavor packets.

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What to do with a Dragon Fruit? Will It Blend?

On August 4, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

I was at Jimmy’s Food Store, an Italian market in downtown Dallas, picking up some pancetta for another recipe and noticed a peculiar, yet beautiful pink fruit. It is called Dragon Fruit and sold that day for $3.99.

I bought one unsure what I would or could do with it. It was definitely an impulse, novelty buy and something I’m sure my 5 year old twin boys would find interesting especially with dragon in its name.

After a couple days of letting it ripen, it basically behaves like a mango so you feel the firmness of the fruit to determine when it’s ready. I decided to finally put it to use with my VitaMix (sorry BlendTec for borrowing your Will it Blend nomenclature while using your competitor.)

How’s it look? It looks like someone threw Docker’s khaki pants with poppy seeds into a blender. More importantly how does it taste? It’s better than it looks. The flavor is good, nothing great. Dragon Fruit doesn’t really have that much flavor. It almost tastes like jicima, sweet but muted.

If you want to experiment with something new in your smoothie, Dragon Fruit might be what you are looking for. Just don’t expect to be blown away.

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

1 orange, peeled and halved
1 dragon fruit, peeled and halved
1 banana
1/2 apple
1 cup ice

Add items in order and turn on VitaMix at speed 1 and rapidly turn to 10 then switch to high speed power and blend for 45 seconds.


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VitaMix, VitaAddicted

On July 14, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus

My wife Stephanie kept looking into buying a VitaMix blender. We owned a perfectly fine Cruisinart blender that well blended things and quite honestly we rarely used it. So why did we need some $500 blender?! Who knows but I figured as we moved into our new home that a house warming gift was in order and well it seemed like a good time to get this crazy blender thingy.

It’s been about a month since we bought the VitaMix at Costco and I have to admit – I’m addicted. Maybe it’s because I wanted to feel justified spending so much on this crazy thing. Or perhaps it just makes some great things (mainly smoothies) and is very easy to clean, making it a mostly effortless experience each time I use it.

Here are a couple quick favorite smoothie recipes. The best part no added sugars and I’ve dramatically reduced my visits and cravings for Jamba Juice. Plus I can avoid any sugars or concentrates and use organic fruit.

Blueberry, Banana, Orange Smoothie

1/2 cup blueberries
1 orange, peeled
1 banana, peeled
1 cup ice
1/4 cup water

Add ingredients in order listed start on variable setting 1 and increase immediately to 10 and then put into high speed for about 30-45 seconds.

Pineapple, Orange, Banana Smoothie

1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks
1/2 cup orange juice
1 banana, peeled
1 cup ice

Add ingredients in order listed start on variable setting 1 and increase immediately to 10 and then put into high speed for about 30-45 seconds.

Here are some additional online resources covering VitaMix recipes:

Facebook Page Dedicated to VitaMix Recipes

YouTube Videos Featuring VitaMix Recipes

VitaMix’s Vita-Village Forum

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