The past few weeks Marc has been home more nights that not which, given his insane schedule the past 3 years, has been a change. A good change, for the record. I can’t even explain how nice it is to have my husband home at night, and I’ve been trying to savour the little things. Like being able to work on hanging up pictures in our house. Hearing him play the piano downstairs while I do the dishes. Cooking dinner and seeing him mowing the lawn outside. Which brings us to the challenging part of him being home at night: planning dinners.
Apparently popcorn and wine doesn’t count as ‘dinner’ to my husband, nor does sauteed kale topped with a fried egg and gobs of Sriracha. He wants something resembling a real meal. He’s so picky, ya know?
To ensure we don’t go broke trying every restaurant in our new neighborhood due to lack of dinner acceptable options at our house, I’ve turned to using McCormick’s FlavorPrint recommendations to help me plan dinner. You start by answering a handful of questions and picking and choosing what ingredients and flavors you prefer. This helps FlavorPrint decide what recipes of theirs you would like. I thought this part was really fun and loved giving certain recipes thumbs up and thumbs down. After all of that, you get to see what recipes are recommended. Even more helpful is that they are categorized for you into categories like “What’s For Dinner,” “Health Conscious,” and “Spice Up Your Sides” which make planning dinner Easy with a capital E.
The first night I used a FlavorPrint recommendation I whipped up their Southwest Steak and Corn Kebobs which were a 90% match to my FlavorPrint as it was Garlic, Onionish, and Sour.
These kebobs were super easy to whip up (I even skipped the 30 minute marinating because I was getting to the point of almost being hangry) and we both loved them. They were perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
The second FlavorPrint recipe I made was the Mexican Slow Roasted Pork, which was another 90% match for me.I switched the recipe up this time to adapt to what I couldn’t find at the grocery store (ground Annato and Coriander Seed) and what I forgot at the grocery store (only bought one orange instead of two), and I also made the pork into arepas instead of tacos.
This is the great thing about FlavorPrint – you can use it for specific meal planning or as inspiration. I used it with the Southwest Steak and Corn Kebobs to plan out my entire meal, and with the Mexican Slow Roasted Pork for inspiration in my arepas.
So you might be wondering – what the heck is an arepa? I had never heard of them until about a month ago when a Minneapolis food truck, Hola Arepa, opened a restaurant and we went there for Marc’s birthday. An arepa is a cornmeal flatbread/pita/corn cake that is native to Colombia and Venezuela. In some regions, the flatbread is cut open and it’s made into sort of a pita, as it’s stuffed with various fillings, and in other areas you put the fillings on top. After researching arepas even further, I found that arepa dough can have cheese in it and even be stuffed with cheese.
At Hola Arepa, they serve their arepas stuffed with different fillings, from shredded beef and plantains, to black beans with cojita cheese, and my favorite, slow roasted pork. So when I saw the Mexican Slow Roasted Pork with Spicy Quick Pickled Onions on my FlavorPrint, I immediately saved it to my Favorites to be used in arepas. To follow in the footsteps of Hola Arepa, I added a chimichurri to the top of my arepas, for even more flavor
While there are quite a few steps to making the arepas – from the meat and the pickled onions, to the chimichurri and actual arepas themselves – a lot of the work can be done ahead of time. The chimichurri and pickled onions can both be made a few days in advance, and the real work with the meat is done the night before, as it needs to marinate overnight and then simply slow cooks for 4-5 hours. The arepa dough can be made ahead of time too, but you’ll want to cook them immediately prior to eating.
All together, this is such a fun meal. The smoky pork with the spicy and sour onions, herb-filled chimichurri, and cornmeal arepas are simply delicious!
Disclaimer: I have been compensated for my time to develop this recipe and create this post on behalf of McCormick’s FlavorPrint program, in conjunction with Yummly. As always, all thoughts are 100% my own. #MyFlavorPrint
for the rub:
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 8 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp red pepper more or less depending upon how spicy you like it
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 4 lb pork shoulder
for cooking the pork:
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
for the spicy pickled onions:
- 2 medium red onions
- 3/4 cup red vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 jalapenos seeded and sliced
for the chimichurri:
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
for the arepas:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- queso fresco or feta cheese
For the pork rub:
- Combine all the rub ingredients in food processor and pulse until paste.
- Rub all over entire pork shoulder, then cover and refrigerate overnight. You can keep it in a large resealable plastic bag or large tupperware.
To cook the pork:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Place pork in large baking dish, along with the juices from the rub.
- Roast the pork for 4-5 hours, until pork is shreddable with forks.
For the spicy pickled onions:
- In medium heatproof bowl, add onions and then add boiling water to cover.
- Let stand 15 minutes.
- Drain onions and rinse with cold water.
- In small saucepan, bring remaining ingredients to simmer medium-high heat.
- Once simmering, remove from heat.
- Let stand 15 minutes.
- Place onions in jars or bowl with lid, then add liquid to cover.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours to marinate onions.
- Onions will keep in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
For the chimichurri:
- While pork is cooking, make the chimichurri by combining all ingredients in food processor and processing until texture of pesto.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the areapas:
- Combine water, corn meal and salt in medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Heat until it is slightly simmering, stirring often, then remove from heat.
- Let sit 15 minutes.
- At this point, you should be able to form it into small patties. If there is still some water, add a couple more tablespoons of cornmeal until it is a desired consistency.
- Take ~1/4 cup of dough at a time and form into a ball with your hands, and then press flat into a patty.
- Repeat with remaining dough to make cooking the areapas easier.
- When all patties are formed, heat ~1/4 cup canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add patties, working in batches.
- Cook 6-8 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.
- Top each area patty with pork, spicy pickled onions, chimichurri, and cheese.