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Cinco de Mayo

5 May


Here’s our Mexican-inspired party fare. The pork turned out amazing!

We have an array of organic corn and flour tortillas, crisp radishes, cheese, salsas, chipotle lime crema, and guacamole, accompanied by a sunny salad of orange supremes, red onion, and lettuces in a cumin-scented roasted garlic and parmesan dressing.

To further the Mexicans conquering the French theme, we are treating our guests to chocolate mousse spiked with cinnamon and cayenne, topped with fruit salsa: kiwi, mango and strawberry.

To begin, we have cassava chips and some corn tortillas chips in the colours of the Mexican flag. For dipping: guac, salsa verde, picante sauce, refried bean dip. And of course, darling two-bite epanadaditas with chicken/achiote/raisin/olive filling.

Now, where’s that margarita?

PLAYLIST: Tequila-The Champs… Tijuana Taxi-Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass…La Bamba-Ritchie Valens…South of the Border-Frank Sinatra… Low Rider-War…Spanish Flea-HA&TB…Conquest-White Stripes… El Paso-Marty Robbins…

From America’s Test Kitchen: “Why this recipe works: Traditional carnitas, Mexico’s version of pulled pork, is fried in gallons of lard or oil. The results are tasty, but who wants to deal with all that hot fat? We wanted to create restaurant-style carnitas—tender chunks of lightly crisped, caramelized pork, subtly accented with oregano and citrus—without the hassle of frying.
Our initial recipe for carnitas started by simmering the meat (taste tests proved boneless pork butt had the best flavor) in a seasoned broth in the oven and then sautéing it in some of the rendered fat. The flavor was OK, but too much of the pork flavor went down the drain when we discarded the cooking liquid. So we kept the liquid and reduced it on the stovetop (after the meat had been removed) until it developed the consistency of a thick, syrupy glaze that was perfect for coating the meat. Broiled on a rack set over a baking sheet, the glazed meat developed a wonderfully rich flavor and the rack allowed the excess fat to drip off. We emulated the flavor of the Mexican sour oranges used in authentic carnitas with a mixture of fresh lime and orange juices. Bay leaves and oregano provided aromatic notes, and cumin brought an earthy dimension that complemented the other flavors.
We like serving carnitas spooned into tacos, but you can also use it as a filling for tamales, enchiladas, and burritos.
Don’t Cut the Fat. Leaving a 1/8-inch layer of fat on the pork is critical to imparting the best flavor and texture to the final dish. Overtrimming the meat will lead to dry, bland carnitas.”

MEXICAN PULLED PORK (CARNITAS)
America’s Test Kitchen: Supper From South of the Border
1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork butt , fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 cups water 1 medium orange , halved

Tortillas and Garnishes
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed
Lime wedges
Minced white or red onion
Fresh cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced radishes
Sour cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Meatloaf

9 Mar
BACON AND PRUNE STUDDED MEATLOAF
From Gourmet Magazine, February 2008
“This is the perfect antidote to the Sunday blues, not least because there will be enough left over to pack sandwiches for Monday’s lunch. A mix of beef, pork, and bacon ensures meatiness, with Worcestershire sauce, chopped prunes, and cider vinegar added for good balance and occasional suggestions of sweetness. Because the loaf is baked without a loaf pan, there’s plenty of well-browned crust to go around. “
This turned out amazing. Next time we will add some wine to our brunoise-cut mirepoix, and may swap out allspice in favour of some oregano (although we get that the allspice/prune combo substitutes for ketchup). We love the idea of making a prune/bacon paste to add, but are considering using leaner back bacon or pancetta. Thanks to our darling Le Creuset oval baker, we were able to drain the grease easily. There was a lot. Our loaf was very moist, but firmed up well. We like our meatloaf pan with its drainage holes, but we are kind of sold on our oval baker giving more crust surface.
  • 1 cup fine fresh, torn bread from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 pound bacon (about 4 slices), chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped (try less)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (not lean)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Garnish:
  • cooked bacon
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  • Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low, then cook until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add to bread-crumb mixture. Finely chop bacon and prunes in a food processor, then add to onion mixture along with beef, pork, eggs, and parsley and mix together with your hands. Pack mixture into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan.
    Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.