No Waste Tacos de Carnitas

When I find an on-line recipe that I want to use, I print a hard copy, put the copy into a page protector and file it in a 3″ binder. I now have 11 binders, all full of recipes. This recipe is a perfect example of why I do this. No Waste Tacos de Carnitas has changed since I originally printed it and put it in my recipe binder. The author has added a salsa verde to the recipe, but the ingredient list and the directions are now mixed together, just assuming that you are going to want to do both. However, any number of accompaniments are appropriate, such as a mango salsa like the one from Avocado Mango Chicken. All that said, this recipe is a great weekend or holiday dish. It calls for boneless pork butt, which tends to be a pretty affordable cut of meat, to say nothing of tasty! We have also done this method with boneless skinless chicken thighs for friends of ours who don’t eat pork, and it worked really well.

Because the recipe has changed from how I know it, I am going to reprint the recipe that I use here. I have linked to the page of the original author. Everything that follows were the author’s original words. If you are interested in a salsa verde, by all means, click on the link. Based on how much I like this recipe, I’m betting the salsa verde is delicious as well.

No Waste Tacos de Carnitas
by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Carnitas can be prepared through step 3 up to three days in advance. Pork can be crisped up straight from the refrigerator.

Serves 4 – 6, active time 45 minutes, total time 4 1/2 hours.

Ingredients

1 small onion, quartered
3 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), rind removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt
1 medium orange (or a lime)
4 cloves garlic, split in half
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into three or four pieces
1/4 C vegetable oil
24 corn tortillas

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season pork chunks with salt and place in a 9 by 13 glass casserole or large Corning Ware dish. The pork should fill the dish with no spaces. Split orange into quarters and squeeze juice over pork. Nestle squeezed orange pieces into casserole. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to casserole. Nestle everything into an even layer. Pour vegetable oil over surface. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Cook until pork is pull-apart tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Set a large fine-meshed strainer over a bowl. Using tongs, remove orange peel, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves from pork and discard. Transfer pork and liquid to strainer. Let drain for 10 minutes. Transfer pork back to casserole. Using a flat spoon or de-fatter, skim fat from surface. You should end up with about 1/2 cup of fat. Shred pork into large chunks with fingers or two forks. Add fat back to the pork, and season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Liquid can be reserved for another purpose.

To serve, place casserole dish with pork 4-inches under a high broiler and broil until brown and crisp on surface, about 6 minutes. Remove pork, stir with a spoon to expose new bits to heat, and broil again for 6 more minutes until crisp. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat tortillas. Preheat an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip tortilla in a bowl filled with water. Transfer to hot skillet and cook until water evaporates from first side and tortilla is browned in spots, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook until dry, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer tortilla to a tortilla warmer, or wrap in a clean dish towel. Repeat with remaining tortillas

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Maple Glazed City Ham is hands down our favorite ham recipe, and really, our only go-to for the couple of times a year that roasted ham is on the menu. It’s sweet and savory and just as important, super simple and easy. If you aren’t a mustard fan, don’t let the 2 tablespoons of whole grain mustard scare you. My husband hates mustard and he still loves this ham. The mustard mixes well with the other ingredients in the recipe. As far as ham recipes go, we’ve stopped looking.

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Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew is the perfect recipe for me. My mother, her mother, and my father’s mother have always been able to make a fabulous beef stew with no recipe. Through the years, it has become clear that in order to be successful in the kitchen, I really have to have a real recipe, one that has been tested after being written down. My problem with recipes is that every new cook is trying to put their own “spin” on classic dishes. So when what I really want is just plain ole beef stew, that’s exactly the recipe I just can’t seem to find. This one fits the bill, however. The only change I make is that rather than using a bottle of the nut brown ale that the recipe calls for, I use whatever I happen to have on hand. I have used hefeweizen and oktoberfest ales for sure. You want something middle-of-the road to use in a beef stew. Save the chocolate porter, I.P.A. and Guinness for drinking. If you happen to be snowed in, like I am today, you can also totally leave out the potatoes if you don’t happen to have any.

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Slow Cooker Peppered Beef Shank in Red Wine is a rich, comforting dish, and a fantastic way to get rid of the errant bottle of cheap red wine invariably left at your house after parties. We have trouble collecting enough affordable beef bones to consistently make our own stock, but we do have good luck with Better Than Bouillon, a grocery store product that makes higher quality instant stock. The recipe recommends serving with polenta or pasta, but this is also fantastic with mashed potatoes.

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Thai Pork and Noodles is affectionately known as “Green Noodles” at our house. It calls for cilantro, so it fits well into a “Week of Cilantro.” Rice noodles come in two basic varieties: fresh and dehydrated. We’ve tried the fresh and have never discovered the secret to keeping them from staying in one big clump, so we always use the dehydrated. They sell dehydrated rice noodles in most mom-and-pop Asian groceries, regardless of whether their focus is Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Malaysian or Japanese. They are trying to fulfill the needs of a diverse niche market. We have the best luck re-hydrating the dehydrated noodles in a bowl filled with hot tap water. If you do it this way, you do have to let it sit for a couple of hours. This has become the job of my eldest daughter, who at eleven, is old enough to be “in charge” when we aren’t home. Some directions say to use boiling water, which cuts down the soaking time significantly, but in my experience doing it this way increases the risk of your noodles disintegrating into a puddle of goo in the bottom of your bowl. We reduce the number of red jalapenos down to two; if all I can find is green, which is typical, sometimes we just use one. Red jalapenos are sweeter than the green ones, so you can get away with using more if you are cooking for capsaicin-sensitive people, like children. We also use regular vegetable oil or canola oil instead of the peanut oil.

Slow Cooker Coconut and Green Curry Pork

Slow Cooker Coconut and Green Curry Pork is my favorite Thai curry dish. We use two cans of coconut milk and only half a can of curry paste. Those changes make lots of sauce to be soaked up by the rice that you serve with it, and keeps the dish from being too spicy for our children. We don’t use the “optional” garnishes, either. I use the same ratios for chicken crockpot curry as well, although I’ve never tried chicken with potatoes, not sure why. My favorite part of this recipe is that it creates lots of leftovers, which I like to heat up and eat for lunch during the week. Curry again? Absolutely!

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Real Texas Chile Con Carne is truly a labor of love. It takes nearly an hour to put together initially, and then it cooks in the oven for another three. That said, it makes a big pot of food, so it’s great for large gatherings of family and/or friends. We have done this both as written and with ground beef and it is delicious either way. We have served it with cornbread, over baked potatoes and as the chili component in chili dogs, always to rave reviews. Since finding this recipe, we have never made chili any other way.