These Mexican-style pork picaditas are similar to sopes and every bit as delicious.
When it comes to learning a new recipe or cooking technique, I'm like a sponge! I absorb the information and I try to apply it in several recipes. This is how you learn: by practicing until you are happy with the results. Another thing that has helped me over the years when it comes to cooking is to write ideas and your cooking experience when you're trying a new recipe. Picaditas were in my notebook under “must try.”
For today’s recipe, I combined two of my favorite foods: costillas de puerco (pork ribs) and anything prepared with masa harina. These picaditas or pinched masa cakes are very similar to sopes when it comes right down to it. Sopes are typically deep-fried before being topped with a variety of fillings. Picaditas are cooked on a cast iron comal or griddle, and they're finished off with a drizzle of pork manteca or lard for more flavor and to crisp up the bottoms.
Some of the most popular picaditas, like the ones from Veracruz, are simply topped with either red or green salsa, onion, avocado and sprinkled with queso fresco. You can prepare them with a variety of toppings, and they're great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I make a double batch and keep them stored in an airtight container in between sheets of wax paper.
Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Season the ribs lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chile ancho and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil to coat evenly and transfer to a baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water to pan, cover with foil and roast for 2 hours. Check for water level after an hour.
Add the chile ancho to a small pot of boiling water. Reduce heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to the blender. Add 1/2 cup fresh water, 1/3 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic and cumin. Blend on high until smooth, set aside.
In a bowl, combine the masa harina, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the egg. Gradually mix in the warm water until dough forms. If too crumbly, add a little more water and if it’s too sticky, add a little more masa harina. The liquid will absorb more as it sets. Roll 8 equal size masa balls and flatten them slightly. Transfer them to a plate covered with plastic wrap.
Preheat a large comal or griddle pan to medium heat for 5 minutes. Using your hands or a tortilla press lined with wax paper, form a 3-1/2 to 4-inch masa cake. If doing this by hand, wet your hands a little so masa does not stick. Cook on hot comal/griddle for 3 minutes per side. While still hot, cover picadita with paper towel. Use your fingers to pinch the edges up like a sope. Also pinch the masa in the center so it’s bumpy. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely.
After 2 hours, remove the ribs from oven. Pour the chile ancho sauce over the ribs and stir gently to coat evenly. Roast, uncovered, for 1 more hour. Before serving, shred slightly using two forks.
To finish the picadita, Transfer back onto hot comal/griddle and drizzle with a little lard or oil. This will crisp up the bottom a bit and add it’s signature flavor. You could use olive oil if you like to keep it light. Add a little cheese to the picadita and cook until cheese begins to melt. Top with beans, pork and salsa.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan or comal, a nonstick pan will work but you won't achieve the nice browning as pictured above.
If preparing a large batch, you can press out the masa cakes and bake them on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 325ºF for 20 minutes. Brush them with oil and turn them halfway through the baking time.