carnitas

About a week ago, my husband informed me that once in a while, he would like to indulge in some fatty, greasy, bad-for-you-food. The kind that we rarely eat. The kind that makes our arteries cry out as they are choking to death on animal fat. The kind with directions like, ‘…and the pork fat is rendered’ or ‘there will be liquid fat in the pan.’ So, I indulged him. Wednesday night, I took a three pound pork butt, tossed it in a dutch oven and simmered it in water, orange juice, and it’s own fat for nearly three hours. Let me tell you something. If you eat this on a regular basis, you will decrease your life expectancy by years. Even the next morning, after having plenty of time for digestion, I was still full. Yikes.carnitas

Now, let me not deter you. This is something you should make. As long as you don’t have any pre-existing heart conditions, and do not have a strong family history of early heart disease, and do not knowingly have any blocked arteries.tostada

Carnitas
adapted from www.homesicktexan.blogspot.com
serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 lb pork butt (also known as shoulder)

1 cup orange juice

3 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

Preparation:

1. Cut pork into 3×1 inch strips and add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.

2. After two hours, turn heat to medium-high heat, and continue to cook pork until all the liquid has evaporated and the fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.*

3. When the pork is browned**, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve shredded.

+ Note: This can be made ahead. I made this one day before and it was great re-heated.

* I found that the stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan is awesome when you scrape it up. So at the end, when you’re taking all of the meat out, give the bottom of the pan a good scrape and add that to the meat.

** The pork didn’t brown all the way for me. There were little pieces that were browned here and there, but the meat as a whole just had a brown color. Maybe next time I’ll cook it a little longer to see if I can get it a little crunchier.

August 20, 2009. pork. 4 comments.

local fare

baby carrots

San Francisco is a wonderful place to live. It’s like no other city. If you have never visited, please do, and if it strikes your fancy, drop on by for dinner. We’d love to have you.

There are a couple of fantastic farmers markets here in the city. The most notable is the Ferry Building Farmers Market. This takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It is such a lovely indulgence of the senses. Beautiful color, interesting people, wonderful smells, and of course superb food. All of the vendors with whom we had the pleasure to meet, were extremely helpful. People that grow their own food really know it well. This is very helpful for me as the consumer. I was looking for some salad greens that would go well with a pasta and proscuitto salad and we were introduced to baby chard by a weathered man who knew his salad greens. He gushed about it’s saltiness and the way it shines when flash cooked. We took home a huge bag of it, and fell in love.

The husband and I were having some dinner company and I wanted to do my very best to get local food. Local, fresh food. For the most part we succeeded. Along with the baby chard, we made it home with baby carrots, italian parsley, and a couple of well priced pork tenderloins from the local butcher. pork tenderloin

I paired the pork tenderloin and baby carrots with a warm pasta salad. The salad looked nice in the picture, but I was a little worried about how it would taste. However, it was intriguing enough to make me want to try it, and let me tell you what, it was good. We nearly finished the whole thing between the three of us.

pasta and proscuitto salad

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Baby Carrots
serves 6
Bon Appetit, April 2009

Ingredients:

Carrots:

  • 2 pounds baby carrots, peeled, trimmed, leaving 1/2 inch of green tops attached
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño (preferably red), seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder**
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Pork:

  • 2 1-to 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika***
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:

For carrots:
Arrange carrots on large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk 2 tablespoons water and all remaining ingredients in small bowl; pour over carrots and toss to coat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Toss to coat before continuing.

For pork:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast carrot mixture covered until just tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange pork tenderloins on another rimmed baking sheet. Stir oregano, cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in small bowl; rub mixture all over tenderloins. Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Return to rimmed baking sheet.

Remove foil from carrots. Nestle pork among carrots on baking sheet, arranging carrots in single layer around pork. Roast uncovered until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, stirring carrots occasionally if beginning to caramelize, about 18 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer pork to work surface. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange carrots on platter. Top with pork slices, drizzling any pan juices over.

* I didn’t use honey because I felt that the carrots would already be fairly sweet on their own. I was right.

** This was not something I had in my pantry so I just used plain old chili powder.

*** Also, another thing that I tragically do not have in my pantry. I used regular Paprika, but next time I will have and use the smoked kind because it’s so good.

Pasta with Peas, Asparagus, Butter Lettuce and Proscuitto
serves 6-8
Bon Appetit, April 2009

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter*
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/2 pound spring onions or green onions (dark green parts discarded); white parts cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, pale green parts cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds peas in pods)
  • 1 pound campanelle (trumpet-shaped pasta) or medium (about 1-inch) shell-shaped pasta
  • 1 head of butter lettuce or Boston lettuce (about 6 ounces), cored, leaves cut into 3/4-inch-wide slices**
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Preparation:

Melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallot. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Sauté until tender (do not brown), about 8 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer; set aside.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl of ice water. Return water to boil. Add peas and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Using skimmer, transfer to bowl with asparagus. Drain vegetables.

Return water in pot to boil. Cook pasta until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, reheat onion mixture. Add lettuce and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Add drained asparagus and peas; stir until heated through.***

Add pasta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, and parsley to skillet with vegetables; toss, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle prosciutto over; drizzle with olive oil. Serve, passing more cheese alongside.

* I ommitted the butter. I thought that the oil was enough.

** I used baby chard. It was yummy.

*** After reading reviews for this recipe, I decided to not wilt the lettuce at this step. I just stirred it in at the end with the hot pasta and a splash of pasta water. It was wilted perfectly. I think it would be pretty limp and wimpy if it was wilted the way the recipe suggests.

August 15, 2009. Tags: , , , , , . pork, salads, sides. 2 comments.