When I think of family cooking, my ideal is a meal that everyone around the table will enjoy. That’s what chef Claudio Dominguez, co-founder of the local California Creationz meal-delivery service, offers up here. “I love this recipe because of the versatility,” says the Orange County-based chef whose family hails from Veracruz, Mexico. “My daughter loves it, and my dad loves it, too.”
Dominguez stresses that the spice levels in the pork marinade are adjustable, and that this version is mild. “These California chiles give a good color and a good flavor, but they are not spicy at all,” he says. To amp up the heat, you could substitute spicier chile varieties. You could also increase the amount of jalapeño in the salsa. And instead of eating the pork on a plate, you could pile it into tacos and bring in some sweetness. “One of the traditional garnishes if you’re eating a pastor taco is fresh pineapple,” Dominguez says. “And that just gives it a completely different spin. For an adult, you can add the pineapple and you can also add really spicy salsa and they’re going to love it just as much as my 3-year-old would love it. That’s what I like about this dish. We can all have the same pastor.”
Dominguez says his daughter also loves anything with pasta. He and his wife recently learned that they are expecting a second child, so the number of plates around the family table will increase.
If your family is extra busy these days, or you’d just like a night off, you can order this exact meal through the Territory Foods service, which offers meals designed by nutritionists and crafted by local chefs. Learn more at territoryfoods.com.
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 ounces dried California chiles
1½ ounces (about 6 tablespoons) ground cumin
2 ounces garlic powder (about 6 tablespoons)
2 ounces (about ½ cup) dried oregano
1 ounce (about 4 tablespoons) ground black pepper
2 ounces (about ¼ cup) salt
2 dried bay leaves
Place the California chiles in a pot and add enough water to cover. Bring water to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chiles to soak for 15 minutes longer.
Drain the chiles, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.
Place the chiles, a few at a time, into a blender along with some of the reserved cooking water. Blend until completely liquified. When all of the peppers are blended, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Transfer the liquified peppers to a small saucepan. Add the remaining spices, mix well and bring to a simmer over low heat. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, remove it from the heat.
Combine this mixture with the diced pork, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
Heat a flat-top grill or large skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and cook for 12-15 minutes, until completely cooked through.
Roasted Butternut Squash
2 pounds (about 2) butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the squash. Cut off the tops and bottoms, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes.
Spread the squash on a sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender and slightly golden.
Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups white rice (long grain)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup diced onion
4 cups water
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup lime zest
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the rice and olive oil in a large pot. Over medium heat, fry the rice until it is crisp, stirring constantly and taking care not to let it burn. Stir in the onions, garlic salt, salt and water. Continue cooking until the rice puffs up, then cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Cook for 15-18 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.
Add the lime zest and cilantro.
Pico de Gallo Salsa
½ pound (1-2) white onions
¼ pound tomato (1 small)
¼ pound fresh jalapeno peppers (about 4, or more if you want the salsa spicier)
½ bunch cilantro
½ medium sized mango
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
Finely chop the onions, tomato, peppers, cilantro and mango. Add the salt and lime juice and mix well.