When La Boca Loca opened in Wellington in April 2011 Lucas Putnam & Marianne Elliott had a clear vision. Using fresh, local product where available, combined with carefully sourced traditional ingredients, they wanted to bring those traditional flavours of Mexico to New Zealanders.
They succeeded. The restaurant is flourishing. They have now made more than 200,000 hand-pressed corn tortillas, 70,000 burritos, 60,000 margaritas and 45,000 litres of salsa.
Now in La Boca Loca, the cookbook, they share a selection of those recipes with us all. La Boca Loca shows the reader how easy it is to make delicious, fresh, traditional Mexican food at home. It includes a collection of the most popular dishes from the restaurant menu, along with a selection of their own favourites (more than 85 recipes in all) plus:
• a detailed pantry guide — everything you need and where to find it
• an introduction to the basic techniques of Mexican cooking
• the recipes include the most popular cocktails
• ideas, inspiration and instructions on putting it all together for Mexican fiestas
• a brief history of Mexican cuisine
• illustrated with over 130 gorgeous full colour photos by Nicola Edmonds
Lucas Putnam was born in New York. He moved to California as a child and grew up eating Mexican food. Previously an editor at Pixar, in 2001 Lucas moved to Wellington to work at Weta Digital and four years ago opened La Boca Loca, with his Kiwi partner Marianne Elliott. Lucas has long been an advocate for changing the world by changing what we eat, and he’s committed to sourcing the freshest and best organic, ethically and sustainably produced ingredients. Lucas is El Jefe and Master of Tequila at La Boca Loca.
Marianne Elliott is a human rights and social justice advocate. She served in the United Nations mission in Afghanistan with a focus on human rights and gender issues, helped develop human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and Timor-Leste and worked as Policy Advisor for Oxfam. In 2012 she wrote a book about doing good and being well in Afghanistan (Zen Under Fire, Penguin NZ) and currently writes for the Huffington Post. Marianne is also a yoga teacher (Yoga Alliance 200RT) and created the 30 Days of Yoga courses and 30 Days of Courage. She is Regional Leader for Off the Mat, Into the World in New Zealand and Australia and teaches workshops using the tools of yoga to support sustainable, conscious activism. Marianne shares Lucas’ passion for fish tacos & tequila, and for helping people develop a more sustainable and nourishing relationship with food.
The core to Lucas & Marianne’s idea of success is building a business that nourishes its staff, customers, community and the planet. So it made sense to publish their cookbook locally using the most sustainable printing methods currently available in New Zealand. The cookbook is printed on a carboNZero™ certified product printed by Soar Printing — a New Zealand owned and managed family business since 1920. Soar Printing has the strongest sustainability accreditation of any New Zealand print company and was named Supreme Winner at the 2013 Sustainable 60 awards. The text is printed on NeoSatin (FSC mix) from B&F Papers using vegetable based inks and citrus cleaners. The stock comes from managed tree farms or recycled sources, and conforms to high-level environmental management systems. The carbon credits purchased by Soar Printing fund New Zealand renewable energy sources such as the Tararua Wind Farm and the Christchurch Burwood Gas Landfill project.
La Boca Loca: collected recipes from the taqueria | 9780473309541 | RRP$60.00
Available from bookstores nationwide from 21 April 2015, distributed by Potton & Burton
And the publishers have kindly allowed me to reproduce a recipe from the book for you to try:
Carne al Pastor/Pork ‘Pastor’
Traditionally, carne al pastor refers to thin slices of pork that have been cooked on a vertical spit-roast, marinated with guajillo chillies and achiote, and served on soft tortillas.
The name “pastor” — shepherd in Spanish — comes from a nickname given to the Lebanese merchants who, in the early 1900s, brought these spit-roasts (known as shawarmas) to Mexico City. Thousands of taco stands there now sell carne al pastor and nothing else, though the marinades vary and recipes are often carefully guarded family secrets.
At La Boca Loca, we combine the ubiquitous guajillo chilli with pasilla chilli for a richly flavoured but not-too-hot version. Ideally, start this recipe the day before you need it and allow the meat to marinate overnight.
To serve 20 people
10 dried pasilla chillies
6 dried guajillo chillies
2 brown onions
oil for roasting
8 cloves garlic confit (page 18)
8 bay leaves
6 tablespoons achiote paste (page 10)
4 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
⅔ cup orange juice
2 litres dry apple cider
whole pork shoulder (about 4kg)
Preheat oven to 180°C. Seed and rehydrate chillies (page 17), reserving water. Meanwhile, halve and char the onions (see page 18) then drizzle with oil and place in oven; roast until soft.
In a blender or food processor, puree chillies and onions with remaining marinade ingredients, gradually adding reserved water. Add more hot water if needed to achieve a smooth paste.
Pour 1 litre cider into large roasting pan; add pork shoulder. Pour marinade over pork and set aside, overnight if possible.
With oven at 180°C, roast pork uncovered for 4 hours, basting every 20 minutes with remaining cider. If pan dries out, add water as needed. Remove from oven when pork skin has turned black and meat is falling from the bone. Transfer the pork from pan to cutting board and shred using two forks. Pour liquid from pan over shredded pork.
Reproduced from La Boca Loca, distributed by Potton & Burton, RRP$60.00, available nationwide or from www.labocaloca.co.nz. © Text/recipes: Lucas Putnam & Marianne Elliott © Images: Nicola Edmonds