Carnitas (again)


Hi all– I don’t know about you, but at our house we could eat Mexican food about 4 nights a week! And these carnitas are a great start–because we can use them for tacos, burritos, enchiladas…  I’ve posted a carnitas recipe before, but I’m loving this new and improved version– crispy from the oven and lightly spiced.

I made them last week and sort of on the spur of the moment invited a bunch of friends for Friday night “Talk & Tacos!”  I thought, well, it’s the last minute and people are on vacation or busy or just want to stay in– But everyone came– 22 friends up and down a long table in the back yard!  It was big fun under the maple trees as the breeze picked up and the evening cooled down and we talked our way into the night….

1/4 cup olive oil
4 to 5 pounds pork loin, cut into 3″ chunks
2 tab. salt
1 yellow onion, chopped to small bits
32 oz. carton chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tab. lime juice
1 tab. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
chopped red onion & chopped cilantro for serving


Heat the olive oil in a soup pot.  Throw in the chunks of pork in two separate batches and stir them a bit to brown them on all sides, salting the meat as it cooks (about 8 -10 minutes per batch).  Then put all the pork into the pot together, stir in the chopped yellow onion and cook 2 minutes more.

Add in the chicken broth, garlic, lime juice, chili powder and cumin.  Bring the whole thing to a low simmer and cook for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and can be shredded.

Remove the pork from the pot, reserving the cooking juices.  Shred the pork with two forks and spread the shredded pork out over 2 baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle a small amount of the cooking liquid over the meat and put it into a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes until the cooked shreds are crispy but still tender– as it cooks drizzle on more cooking juices every 10 minutes or so.

Serve the carnitas with chopped onion and cilantro– and any other fixings your family likes.


Carnitas Enchiladas

DSC01342Hello friends– Well, the best thing that happened around here this past weekend was an unexpected visit from our son, Micah– down from Ojai–  We sat down to dinner and talked late and visited his grandma recovering from her surgery.  Got to catch up on so many details and see more pics of the grand-girls in China right now.  It was just about perfect.

So you know when he called to say he was coming, the first thing I thought of was, “what shall we eat?!”  And this is what I thought he’s like.  Maybe you will too.

2 pound piece of pork loin
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 clove garlic, minced
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 small can diced green chilies
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
7 oz, can salsa verde (I like Hedrez brand)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated colby cheese
18 fresh corn tortillas*

Cut the pork into 2″ chunks.  In a baking dish mix 1/2 cup water with the liquid smoke. Set the pork pieces into a baking dish and top them with the 4 cloves minced garlic and the onion cut into large pieces.

Put the pork and onions into a 350 oven for 2 hours.  Take it out and see if it is tender enough to shred with two forks.  If it isn’t, put it it back in the oven for 30 minutes more– and the shred the meat and mash the cooked onions and mix it all together.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in the pan.  Add the flour and garlic.  Stir to make a paste and then pour in the chicken broth and milk slowly as you continue to stir to make a white sauce.  After about 3 or 4 minutes, when it thickens, mix in the green chilies, cilantro and salsa verde.

Then dip the tortillas in the hot sauce to soften them.  I usually put a tortilla in the sauce to be warming while I’m rolling up the previous one.  Set the saucy tortilla on a plate and put a heaping tablespoon full of carnitas and a pinch of cheddar down the middle.  Then roll up the tortilla and set it into a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Continue until the enchiladas are all rolled up and laying shoulder to shoulder in the baking dish.  (While you’re doing this if the sauce thickens too much, add a bit more milk.)

Mix the sour cream into the sauce that is left in the pan. Then spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.  Cover them with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  The last 5 minutes of baking, take off the foil and sprinkle a little more cheddar on top for a nice color.

And here’s the Grand-girls in Hunan, China right now, dressed in their best for Chinese New Year!!—spending the holiday with their other dear grandmother there.


Mexican Pizza

IMG_4537Hi all– Do you have the “packing a lunch for work dilemma”?  Heading to the teacher lunchroom after a busy morning with the kids, I’m longing for something more than a soggy sandwich.  That’s why I love leftovers!  Little packages of last night’s dinner lined up in the fridge to see me through the week.  And my favorite is pizza, popped in the toaster oven and warm for lunch together with all the teacher friends talking through their mornings.  So here’s my dinner tonight– and leftovers for lunches all week!


Crust (makes 2 crusts):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Toppings (enough for 2 pizzas):
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Mexican style hot sauce
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
2 oz. cheddar, grated
2 roma tomatoes, cut to small pieces
1/2 cup red onion, chopped to bits
1 cup frozen (or fresh) corn, defrosted
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, cut in small pieces
1 cup cooked carnitas meat in small bits*
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine

Stir together the oil, garlic and hot sauce.  Spread it over the crust with the back of a spoon (try not to flatten the crust too much).  Then sprinkle on the mozzarella and cheddar.  Layer on the tomatoes, onion, corn, pepper, carnitas and cilantro.

Pop the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is cooked through and brown around the edges.

*I used leftover carnitas from a taco dinner with friends.  Bits of leftover chicken or beef would be just dandy.  Or make the pizza without meat for Mexican veggie pizza!


Smoky Carnitas

IMG_3643Hi there–  Favorite food?  Mine is tacos in general.  Carnitas tacos, more specifically.  It’s like a puzzle.  Every taco can be different.  Corn salsa on this one.  Avocado on the next.  With lettuce or without.  Add beans, maybe cilantro rice.  Sour cream?  Each time trying for the masterpiece, the perfect  taco!

This recipe make piles of smoky carnitas meat.  We had the family over and have been eating leftovers all week on those small taqueria tortillas.  Delish!

4 pounds pork butt
1 cup water
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 yellow onion, cut into fourths
5 cloves garlic, minced
salt & freshly ground pepper
red onion & cilantro for garnish

IMG_3656Put a grate into a roasting pan.  Then pour the water and liquid smoke into bottom of the pan.  Cut the pork into 2″ cubes discarding the bone and extra fat.  Put it on the grate and top with the onion and garlic.

Stick into a 350 oven for 2 hours covered with a lid or foil. Cook it for 2 hours* and then check to see if it is tender enough to shred.  If not, put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Shred the meet on a plate a few chunks at a time and transfer it to your serving bowl.  Salt and pepper liberally to taste.  Mash the well cooked onion to a pulp and add it to the meat.   Then pour the liquids at the bottom of the pan through a strainer and add about half the liquid to your carnitas.  Sprinkle a little red onion & cilantro on top just to make it pretty.  Stir it up and serve it hot — for tacos, burritos, enchiladas…

****For carnitas tacos serve your smoky pork up with fresh tender tortillas, chopped cilantro, lettuce, chopped tomato, corn salsa, mango-avocado salsa, sour cream, black beans or refried pintos, Mexican rice, guacamole, grated cheddar or queso fresco, hot sauce, jalapeños…  The list could go on.  Just pick your “faves” to create the perfect taco!