Carnita Obsession

I’m still obsessed with corn tortillas.

They’re just so good. And they make the kitchen smell amazing when you roast them over your burners before serving – which I highly recommend.  They aren’t very good just plain, out of the fridge. But roasted? Mmmmm.

And sometimes they catch on fire and you have to slap them down to get the fire out, which is super fun.

In addition to being muy delicioso, they’re lower calorie and lower fat than flour tortillas, incase you care about that sort of thing.

I’m also still obsessed with roasting large pieces of meat and finding creative ways to use the leftovers. And, this carnita recipe is incredibly easy if you do just that: cook a large piece of pork loin, eat it straight out of the crock pot the first night, then shred the leftovers into carnitas. Corn tortillas are the perfect vehicle for leftover pork meat, in my opinion. But leftover beef or chicken would also be good here.

It’s not like I haven’t had carnitas lately or anything. There is no excuse for my random craving of porky goodness. In fact, last weekend, Lindsey, Dave & I spent 5 enjoyable hours at Taste of Atlanta, stuffing our faces with a variety of pork products wrapped in various forms of butter-laced carbohydrates. We also ate about 3 different varieties of meatballs, several meat sliders, plenty of sweets, and made some awesome beverage decisions when we made it to the wine, beer & cocktail tent. I won’t go into too much detail here, except to say that I picked up a few good cocktail recipes and we thoroughly enjoyed all of the wine we “tasted.”

We call this photo “good choices,” because the VIP experience was definitely a good choice, of course. Thank you, half off depot.

Speaking of beverages, I couldn’t have carnitas last night without a margarita. I’ve kicked up the workouts lately for no apparent reason except to ward off the Football 5 (my new name for the 5 pounds I gain every year due to tailgating). I’m sure I’ve earned one little margarita, right? Either way – the mixology gods were with me last night, and I whipped up a stellar one.

Can y’all tell we finally got a “grownup camera” since the quality of pictures has improved just a wee tiny bit? And that last night was the first time I got to use said camera so I took a TON of pictures for no reason?

I’ll quit being random & hand over the recipes.

Pork Carnitas

This isn’t really a recipe, as I told Lindsey when she asked me for it a while back. It’s more of a method. So here’s the deal: roast about a pound of pork loin (a very inexpensive cut of meat, and something that stores in the freezer really well) in the Crock-Pot. Cook it for at least 8 hours with some chicken stock, water, a fall cider, apple juice, white wine… whatever flavorful liquids you’ve got. Add to the pot some salt, pepper, diced carrots & onions. If you want a complete meal, throw in some diced potatoes – they’ll be tasty, too, and you’ve got a completely different meal – use the leftovers for the carnitas! The meat should just fall apart when it’s done… mmm…. pork.

Now, you could be really strategic with this recipe and cook your pork in a bath of delicious mexican spices and flavors by adding canned tomatoes, jalapeños, cumin, oregano and chili powder. I didn’t think that far ahead two nights ago when I cooked the roast, though, so I just dealt with plain ol’ roasted pork, and it was fine. If you’re using leftover pork, obviously you’ll want to zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.

Ideally, I was going to reheat my pork in some EVOO and get it all nice & crispy, like an authentic carnita, but hunger took over. I was starving and there was no time for that last night. If you’ve got more time and want to be fancier, though, have at it. A little extra oil won’t hurt.

Prepare your corn tortillas by roasting over the flame of your stove burners, turning frequently, until they char slightly. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could heat them up in the oven for a few minutes. But an open flame really works best. Got a fire pit? That’d be a good alternative.

Assemble the carnitas. I top mine with some cheese, sour cream, red cabbage, homemade guacamole, and cilantro. Sorry, Alyssa, and the rest of you who are genetically programmed to think this delicious herb tastes like soap.

I basically inhaled these, along with my margarita. Last night’s concoction was near perfection, probably because I overloaded it with simple syrup.

I even took a picture of my simple syrup cooking. Artsy fartsy.

The drink ratio was:

1.5 ounces Herradura silver

.5 ounce Cointreau

2 ounces grapefruit juice

about 1/4 cup lime simple syrup

squeeze of lime juice

splash of orange juice

Shake all ingredients together in an iced cocktail shaker, pour into salt-rimmed glass, and enjoy.