Friday, January 22, 2010

Rainy Day Carnitas Tacos

Since we are going on day #5 of rain here in Los Angeles, I've been craving hot chocolate, red wine, and comfort food. I don't think anything says comfort food more than crock pot cooking so I'd love to share a family carnitas recipe with you to try over the weekend.

This makes a great Sunday night group dinner, make some queso & guacamole with chips as an appetizer, pop open some Corona lights, and viola! You have dinner made.

Queso (serves 8)
This recipie comes from my best friend's mother-in-law in Texas, Patsy Nicholas. (This is not low fat but is oh so good)

1 stick (yes I said stick) of unsalted butter
3 green onions chopped
2 roma tomatoes diced
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 large package of Velveta cheese diced into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro

Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat (about 1 minute). Add the green onions and tomatoes and cook until just tender (about 2 minutes). Add one can of mushroom soup & velveta cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted and has combined with the soup base. Toss in the cilantro just before you take it off the stovetop and serve in a colorful bowl. (I know the mushroom soup sounds a little weird but somehow it keeps the cheese from getting hard after it has cooled down and adds an interesting flavor to the queso) I always make extra queso because people eat a ton of it plus this one can easily be kept and re-heated in the fridge for the next day.

Guacamole (serves 4)
This one is really easy, and my go-to recipe. Just combine all of the items below in a bowl and serve with thick tortilla chips.

3-4 Ripe Avocados - mashed into thick chunks
1/2 finely diced sweet yellow onion
2 roma tomatoes diced (try to just dice the outside and leave out the seeds)
1 handful of cilantro chopped
2 shakes of cumin
1 lime juiced
1/2 tsp salt (you might want more, I like mine really salty)
1/4 tsp pepper

Carnitas (serves 4-6)
This recipe was shared with me this week by my sister-in-law's mother Deborah Barto. She is an amazing chef and every recipe that she shares is a winner.

2 lbs country style pork butt or pork shoulder or boneless pork ribs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 large yellow onion cut into 4 pieces

2 Avocados
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of radishes
1 bottle of green tomatillo salsa
1 small block of jack cheese
1 red pepper
1 small container of sour cream
12 authentic corn or flour tortillas (try to get the real ones from Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Central Market, or a Mexican Grocery Store - it makes a big difference)

Cut the pork into 1 1/4 inch pieces. Toss the pork into the bowl of a slow cooker with the salt, pepper, oregano and cumin to coat. Place the onions pieces on top of the pork. Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork on the low setting until the meat is very tender and falling apart (about 6 hours). After the pork is cooked, shred it using two forks and change the cooker setting to warm until you are ready to serve.

To serve, set up separate bowls of cilantro springs, sliced radishes, tomatillos sauce, shredded jack cheese (shred yourself, don't use the pre-shred, it tastes much better), sliced avocado, thinly sliced red bell pepper, and sour cream.

Heat 12 flour or corn tortillas wrapped in foil in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes.

Scoop the meat mixture into warmed tortillas, top with selected toppings and serve with a cold beer.


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