Trader José, no way? That right, Trader Joe’s uses different names for different ethic foods. Trader José is the name on many of its’ Mexican foods. Trader Giottos’s is the name for their Italian food, Trader Ming’s (Chinese) & Trader Jacque’s (French) there are many more names but I won’t go into all of them, the list is long.
Growing up the only taco I ever knew was from a box. My childhood taco consisted of ground beef, sauce from a packet, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a hard taco shell. It was so yummy! Great childhood memories. But now I’ve tried the not out of the box taco and there is no going back.
Mmmmm, pork. I say this a lot either in my head or out loud. I love pork, especially in my tacos. Living in Southern California I have come to love the street taco. So many meats and so cheap. Sometimes I want a taco and don’t want to leave the house and track down my favorite taco truck. I often have a package of TJ’s carnitas in my fridge or freezer. The carnitas are fully cooked and oven roasted rather than the traditional deep fried version.
The package says to microwave 2-3 minutes, but I like to do things a little different. Below is a recipe inspired by a sample I had in my local TJ’s.
1/4 cup water
1 lime halved
1/2 onion chopped
1 bunch cilantro* chopped
1 package TJ’s carnitas
1 package of your favorite tortillas
I prefer using my Le Creuset pot, but you can use any pot that is good for slow cooking or your crock pot on its lowest setting. I have a gas stove and I put my pot on the smallest burner on low heat. I put a 1/4 of a cup of water in the pan and squeezed the lime to add the juice to the pot. The carniatas are citrus marinated, this adds a little bit of that flavor back.
Put all the ingredients in the pot and cover. Check after 30 minutes, stir and the meat will start to fall apart. Leave for another 30 minutes. I usually let it cook for a full hour or until the onion is completely cooked.
Time to make the tacos! I like to warm up my tortillas for a few seconds in a pan. They only need a few seconds, air pockets will form and that is a sign the are ready. Add the meat in the warm tortilla and add you favorite toppings. I prefer the TJ’s Roasted Tomatillo salsa. It’s your choice, I also like the TJ’s Salsa Especial. Get creative, my husband likes to add queso fresco, a type of Mexican cheese.
I like to add a Pico de Gallo on top, I buy it at Ralph’s. It’s chopped tomato, cilantro, and red onion. TJ’s has a Pico de Gallo but it’s a salsa not a topping. Dinner is ready, now enjoy your close-enough-to-authentic Mexican style taco at home.
*Not a fan of cilantro? Does it taste like soap to you? It’s genetic! A very small percentage of people have a special gene receptor that makes cilantro have a soapy after taste. If you are one of those people you can leave it out of the recipe. You can substitute a small amount of parsley. Not too much or it can add a bitter flavor.