Saturday, February 13, 2010

Schmauthenticity: Carnitas

The How to Cook Everything recipe for Carnitas is a variation on Bittman's Shredded Pork recipe. Both, I assume, are great taco fillers, which is what the carnitas I made were used for. Crispy little pieces of shredded pork: major drool factor. There are probably more authentic ways of doing this, and they may taste better, but these were damn good and they certainly did the trick.

Carnitas Taco

In the mother recipe, you simmer chunks of pork shoulder along with a quartered onion, a bunch of smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, cumin, a dried chile (I used ancho) and water to cover for about an hour or longer, until the meat is tender. Then you shred it, and you're done. The carnitas variation has you shred or chop the meat at this point, but then return it to the pot to cook further until all liquid is evaporated and the meat is getting nice and crispy.

Now, I simmered the pork in my enormous 8 qt. dutch oven and it took over 12 cups of water to cover the pork. I was not about to simmer this stuff for 12 hours waiting for all that water to cook off. So I shredded the meat, removed most of the liquid (strained it and froze it as pork stock, natch), returned the meat to the pan, added a bit of neutral oil and simmered until the meat was getting crispy. Then I let it cook a while longer, because in my book the crispier the pork is, the better.


It worked, and it was great. There are more authentic ways of making carnitas, I'm sure, but let me tell you: these tacos were pretty effing good, especially with the leftover Red Beans with Meat I'd stashed in the freezer. The remaining toppings were roasted tomato salsa (Trader Joe's) and ricotta salata--could've used something green like lettuce or my favorite, the gringotastic cucumber, but these were pretty delicious as it was. The leftovers I just ate mixed with a big bowl of rice and beans (cheese on top) for lunch.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Few Links For The Weekend: Apps Only, Momo for 2, $3 Pizza Stones, FEAST

Hey everyone! More cooking going up as soon as the pictures of my first attempt at carnitas are ready. In the meantime, here's some stuff from around the internet you might be interested in.

First off, I'm thrilled to tell you that I'm writing a column for Serious Eats! I'm so siked to be involved with them--you may notice I mention them a lot around here--and I hope you'll check out my stuff, and all the other great stuff over there. The Talk section can answer just about any question you have. I'm contributing to SE: New York with a column called Apps Only, where I go to restaurants I can't afford a whole meal at, and try to construct a meal composed of sides, appetizers, and small plates. Check it out.

I love Momofuku, and I love to stare at the pictures in the cookbook, but the only thing I think I'll ever make from it is the simple ginger scallion sauce. Badass chick Steph is not scared like I am; she's making every recipe in the Momofuku cookbook. Her blog is well written, beautifully photographed, and lovingly executed. A ton of the shots, like the signature pork buns, for example, look better than the photos in the book itself. As a bare bones kind of home cook, I am flabbergasted by how adventurous she is in the kitchen. Check it out.

The always helpful Paupered Chef shows us how to make a pizza stone from about $3 worth of tiles from Home Depot. Check it out.

Finally, last week I attended a FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics) in Brooklyn: a community dinner where the price of admission goes to fund art and community projects. I wrote a short writeup of the event, also for Serious Eats: New York. Check it out and also check out the FEAST site for more info on this amazing organization.

Apps Only [serious eats: new york]
Momofuku Pork Buns [momofuku for two]
How to Make a 3 Dollar Pizza Stone [paupered chef]
FEASTing in Brooklyn [serious eats: new york]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Greens: Stir-Fried Broccoli

This recipe couldn't be much easier, and it's pretty versatile: broccoli is a good accompaniment to almost everything in my opinion. You could probably just add some meat or tofu to this and have a whole main course to serve over rice.

Stir-Fried Broccoli

Basically you take your broccoli (I used this thin-stemmed kind that I can't remember the name of, but you can also use cauliflower, broccoli raab, or a terrifying hybrid I never heard of but Bittman suggests called Broccoflower) and cut the tops into florets, then peel the stems and chop them up. Stems are like the chicken wings of broccoli: so often overlooked, but so clearly the best part. Jacques Pepin agrees, so it's true.

Then you heat up some neutral oil over high heat and throw in the broccoli until it's just starting to brown. Add salt, sugar, and stock, then keep stirring until most of the liquid is evaporated--you end up with a slightly thickened sauce. Add soy sauce, and you're done.

Ate this with a salad and roast chicken parts in ginger scallion sauce (David Chang's recipe, not Bittman's). It was a fast, easy meal that felt more like a feast.