Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Ever since I've moved to Toronto I've been craving good Mexican food, specifically tacos. Based on the few times I've tried I've found it's basically impossible and doesn't exist in this city. That being said, I have a list of three or four more places to try and plan to, but with lowered expectations. I've come to terms with the fact that if I want the kind of Mexican I had available to me in LA, I'll have to make it at home. This weekend I bought Ultimate Slow Cooker, it's chock full of interesting slow cooker recipes and a Carnitas recipe that I decided to try first to help with my taco craving.
For those of you that don't know Carnitas (according to Wikipedia) " is a type of braised or roasted (often after first being simmered) pork in Mexican cuisine. It can also be made from beef using a chuck roast, although using pork seems to be the more common method."
I've only ever had pork carnitas and I LOVE it in tacos. The boy had never had it before and loves pork so it was an obvious choice for our house. I used the recipe for a 5-6 quart slow cooker, if you have a 3-4 quart one half all measurements. Below the Carnitas recipe is one for the fresh pico de gallo that I threw together to go on the tacos.
from Ultimate Slow Cooker, a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication
1 4lb boneless pork shoulder roast
2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
4 tsp cumin seeds
8 cloves garlic - minced
2 tsp dried oregano - crushed
6 bay leaves
3 14 oz cans of chicken broth
4 tsp finely shredded lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
1. Sprinkle pork generously with salt & pepper. Place in slow cooker
2. To make a bouquet garni, cut a 6-inch square from a double thickness of 100% cotton cheesecloth. Place peppercorns, cumin seeds, garlic, oregano, and bay leaves in center of cheesecloth square. Bring up corners of cheesecloth; tie with clean 100% cotton kitchen string. (I didn't have kitchen string and just cut a larger square and tied the corners into a knot to secure the spices) Add to slow cooker. Add broth.
3. Cook on low heat setting for 10 to 12 hours of on high heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove pork from slow cooker. Discard bouquet garni and cooking liquid. Using two forks, coarsely shred pork; discard any fat. Sprinkle pork with lime peel and lime juice; toss to mix. Serve with tortillas, sour cream and salsa (or pico de gallo).
Pico de Gallo
1 small onion - diced
2 roma tomatoes - seeded and diced
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 handful cilantro - roughly chopped
1 lime - juiced
salt & pepper
Toss first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Taste and salt & pepper accordingly. Let sit for at least 30 mins. Can keep in an airtight container for at least 3-4 days.
I really enjoyed this recipe, and so did the boy. The one thing I would change is I'd hold back from mixing the lime peel & juice with the meat and serve the tacos with lime wedges so people can add lime as they like. Alot of times carnitas is fried up after the braising and pulling to get nice crispy bits all over. If I were to make this on a weekend (when I had more time), I would throw it in a heated skillet to crisp it up just a bit.
I think tacos are best with soft corn tortillas. They are hard to come by here in Toronto and I wasn't thrilled with the ones I finally found, so I may be trying to make homemade tortillas sometime in the near future. If you are able to find store bought soft corn tortillas, make sure to heat them either in the microwave for a quick 10-15 secs or wrapped in a towel in the oven. This brings out the flavor but also makes them more flexible and easier to handle.
Hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!