Sunday, May 06, 2007

Buen Cinco de Mayo!

Ok, ok, so I've been a bad blogger. I'm posting my Cinco de Mayo recipe one day late. Sorry. I'm finding my work-blog balance a little tough these days. I've also been experimenting with new recipes and learning that I have to tweak things a bit in order to come up with some blogworthy recipes for you all. The upside is that you'll be finding out about at least 3 new recipes using orange-blossom water.

But on to great, quick and easy Mexican food. Yesterday Gabriel and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with these tacos al pastor and tacos de chorizo mexicano. Living in Italy means having to run your own personal import-export business if you want to eat good Mexican food. This past Christmas, I brought back Mexican chorizo, fresh corn tortillas (which have both been waiting in my freezer), a can of chipotle chiles in adobo, and dried corn husks (for the tamales I failed to make over the winter).

Yesterday, I made pork carnitas, crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside pieces of pork that are the basis of great tacos al pastor. I browned some chorizo and made a quick chipotle-tomato salsa to flavor everything. Granted, if the tortillas had come directly from one of the 3 tortilla factories around Chicago yesterday, and not 5 months ago, it all would have been even better, but the rarity of this meal on this continent made up for everything.

Recipe for pork carnitas:

1 kg (2.2 pounds) of bone-in pork shoulder
2 tbsps salt
the juice of 1 lemon

Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Place them in one layer into a large sautee pan. Use 2 pans if necessary. Cover the pork pieces completely with water and put over a high flame. Add the salt and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and skim the foam off the surface of the water until it subsides (about the first 5 minutes of boiling). Keep boiling until all the water has evaporated. At this point, all the rendered fat from the meat will become the frying fat to make the carnitas crunchy and brown with no extra fat added (hey, it's almost diet food! - almost). Brown the cubes on all sides and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. These crunchy, brown bits of meat are so good, you could eat them all before you get the chance to assemble the tacos. But if you have patience, a little salsa and some queso anejo, you can make a great informal dinner.

One side benefit to carnitas is all the rich, brown fond that's left in the pan when you're finished. You can take 1 cup of medium-grain rice, toast it in the remaining fat in the pan, add 2 cups of water, cover and in 20 minutes, you have the most flavorful rice you've ever tasted. Try it!


Blogger Beenzzz said...

Carnitas are so delicious. I actually had some on Cinco de Mayo! The trout recipe was delicious, by the way.

7:20 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

EVERY TIME i am at walmart and spy their stunning array of fresh and dried chile peepers, i think of you. if you ever have a request, let me know!

i'll send a pic of the tomato plants soon, they are (momentarily) thriving.

3:35 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ah, carnitas, one of the seven wonders of the culinary world. I've never seen quite as simple a preparation as yours, which means, of course, that I will be trying yours in the very near future. I think I might have to celebrate Once de Mayo, my newly invented, carnitas-happy holiday.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous ann said...

what a fabulous tip on the fond/rice combo! Glad you had a little piece of mexico in italy on the 5th!

2:53 PM  
Blogger JennDZ said...

Wow, those must have tasted so good, especially given all the trouble you had to go through to get the ingredients!

4:50 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beenzzz, I'm so glad you made the trout! and that it turned out well.

Hi Melissa, People read a LOT of comic books here in Italy and when I see them on the metro I think of you and t. Can't wait for the tomato photos. I have one cuor di bue plant on the balcony that's about 2 feet high already. Your climate and yard are better though.

Hi Christina, If you get pork shoulder with good marbelling (sp?) they'll turn out great! Greasy but great.

Hi Ann, Me too! Mexican food is the food I miss most here.

Hi Jenndz, Thanks for visiting! and yeah, with the tortillas and the chorizo that had been frozen for months, I have to admit that I've eaten better tacos in my life but the nostalgia factor really made up for it.

10:56 AM  

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