Wow. It’s already May and I haven’t posted anything. I’ll catch you up and treat you to some carnitas at the end, just in time for Cinco de Mayo…
For what it’s worth, this is going to be a bit of a wah wah post. Stop reading here if you don’t want to hear it. And if you keep going, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
An obscenely belated Happy New Year to you all. The New Year was a rough start for me this year. I had started a new medication that was supposed to be migraine preventative. Unfortunately it had the side effect of making me EXTREMELY depressed. Like couldn’t-get-out-of-bed depressed. Like didn’t-deposit-a-paycheck-during-the-month-of-January depressed. Like got-so-behind-in-my-blog-I-got-overwhelmed-and-now-it’s-May depressed.
Luckily I’m off that medication and feeling normal again. I think I freaked out my doctor describing the symptoms. Unfortunately the migraines are back with a vengeance.
Things kind of spiraled from there. My two best friends went way far away. The first moved across the country. The second, who lost her job because of Metro buying the Spice Table’s property (she was a sous there), had an “Eat, Pray, Love” moment and left the country. We’d both known this was going to happen. Didn’t make me any less sad. Good moves for both of them, though.
Despite the hopes of my last post, I got like 3 sinus infections in 4 months. My immune system apparently can’t fend off germs that are coughed directly into my ear by a 1st grader.
Finally, my maternal grandfather passed away. That brought up a whole host of feelings which I can’t even begin to explain. There’s so much there that’s more than grief, like guilt. Guilt is so much worse.
So I’m going to blame this all on Metro Transit Authority. I feel like the moment they decided to buy the land where the Spice Table was, triggered a series of events, which made me have feelings. And ew…feelings.
So to compensate, let’s eat!! As George Lopez might say, here’s some, “Carnitas mas buenas que la chingadas!”
I don’t know if I’ve made it clear, but I’m of half Mexican descent, ethnically. The other half is Japanese. We call this Japxican. Oh yes. And although I was raised by my Japanese grandparents, and my comfort food go-to is ALWAYS Japanese food, I have a deep DEEP love of Mexican. 1) I’m a So Cal girl. I feel like it’s hard not to love Mexican when you’re from this area and 2) my Japanese dad really likes Mexican food. One of his most favorite foods in the world is chicken mole. Yeah. I know.
So when I discovered the LiveWell Network, I kinda got addicted to “Mexico: One Plate at a Time, with Rick Bayless.” He featured this preparation for carnitas, which is not totally traditional, but looked SO easy. And considering it’s not cooked in a vat of lard, they’re probably better for you. I’ve made it a few times now, and it is pretty much a no fail dish – seriously.
- Oven preheat temp = 375 degrees
- Get yourself a nice fatty bone in pork shoulder roast. I’ve used both the butt and the picnic. I think I preferred the picnic. Either one is great though. Have the butcher (if you don’t want to do it yourself) cut it into two roughly 2” slabs. Throw those bad boys into a baking dish.
- Season your pork generously with salt. (I think Rick kinda skimps here, suggesting only a teaspoon. I’m a little more generous.) Then add about 1/3 of a cup of water (basically enough to cover the bottom of the dish).
- Cover the pan with foil and throw it in the oven for about an hour.
- After an hour, remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil. (Be careful! There will be a LOT of steam!)Turn the heat up on the oven to 450 degrees and return the pan to the oven for roughly 30 minutes or long enough for the “juice” to evaporate.
- After 30 minutes the juice has evaporated the pork is now cooking in its own rendered fat. (Mmm…fat) Turn the pork roughly every 7-8 minutes for another 20 minutes or so, both sides are golden brown and delicious looking.
- I suggest serving with warm tortillas, fresh guacamole, and pickled onions. (We can talk about that in another post.)
Note: This recipe is based on times. The USDA recommends that you cook pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. You should get there following these instructions, but I would hate to see you blame me (or Chef Bayless) for food poisoning. So, you’ve been warned.