Monday, May 5, 2008

May 5: Happy Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-American celebration commemorating the first Mexican army's victory over the French... back in the olden days.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I'm making carnitas. Based upon my dining experiences with carnitas, carnitas is a pork dish that is either 1) braised and served in the cooking liquid, 2) twice cooked where the carnitas is first braised and finally cooked in a little oil to crisp up the meat, 3) the carnitas is simply grilled pork and 4) pork that is deep fried. Carnitas is not a spicy dish nor a tomato based dish.

My version is the twice-cooked carnitas.

The Fixin's
The night before the pork is seasoned:
4 lb pork should roast bone-in
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 to 2 T Susie-Q seasoning
1/2 t Garlic Powder
1/2 t Onion Powder
1/2 t Dried Basil, crumbled
1/2 t Dried Oregano, crumbled
2T Vermouth - the pork was looking a little dry so I added the vermouth to help marinade the pork.
Black Pepper - a few grinds

Dumped everything into a zip-loc to marinade overnight.

The cooking:
The next morning - dumped everything into a Dutch oven.
Added 2 C broth
Brought to a boil and simmered 5 minutes.
The rest of the cooking was in a pre-heated oven about 175F for about 10 hours, while I was a work.

The results after the long, slow cooking. The house wafted with the pleasant aroma of garlic and onions.

I couldn't resist taking a small bite. The meat is flavorful with onion and garlic, juicy and melted in my mouth. :)

While the meat was cooling, I made guacamole.
1 avocado
2 T minced fresh onions
1 big clove of garlic, mashed through a garlic press
1 T Cilantro, hand shredded
2 T Salsa
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash onion powder
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 lime juice

Mash and blend
Cover and refrigerate so the flavors can meld.

The carnitas was shredded and defatted. The long slow braising made for easy shredding. The fat and mystery bits separates easily from the meat.

Shredded Carnitas... What to do next?

Traditionally, the carnitas is crisped in a skillet with lard. I didn't have any lard, but I did have the drippings skimmed from the cooking broth. Some people may see this as a bowl of fat to be discarded. I see this a bowl of golden, elixir of flavor.

With drippings, I added a tablespoon to a can of refried beans and another tablespoon was used to fry the pork.

With the braising liquid, I made my version of Mexican rice.

Mexican Rice (pictures were blurry, from hunger?)
2 C Long Grain Rice, uncooked
2T oil
2.5 C braising liquid (didn't need any broth or other seasoning since there was a lot of flavor)
1/4 C Salsa

Cooked the rice in oil to a light brown.
Added the liquid and the salsa and cooked for 25 minutes. (Bring to a boil and lower to medium-low heat.)

The Final Dish
Carnitas served with guacamole, rice, tortillas, beans and a twist of lime.
The meal had a lot of flavor from the pork and the braising liquid used in the rice. I actually surprised myself at how well the dish turned out. lol... Main flavors were garlic, onions and a light hint of the herbs.

PS... Shawn, You need to get here soon. My freezer is almost full with the blog food I'm saving for you. :-D


Anonymous said...

Gosh reading about all your dishes really makes me hungry!

Your carnitas looked wonderful in the pictures. I could almost smell it from here. I am definitely drooling... I bet the pooches had their salivary glands working overtime. You're lucky they haven't figured out how to open the oven door and use hot-mitts yet. Give em time. The little geniuses!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo to you. Can't wait to check out your freezer. Frozen Carnitas on a stick sounds mucho delicioso!

Eat4Fun said...

Thanks! The dogs were definitely eye-balling me and waiting for any bits that hit the floor. lol

Meat on a stick is always a good thing - satay, kabobs, corn dogs and even those little sample on toothpicks at Costco!

I like your carnitas on a stick idea. Let's trademark that idea.

Teamwork! :-)