Heading South of the Border

So yesterday, I decided I was in the mood for some carnitas. For those of you who don’t know what carnitas is, it is a tasty Mexican style of pork that is slow cooked in oil so that it has a crispy crust on the outside and is tender and juicy on the inside. Then it is chopped up and mixed with cilantro, onions, and jalapenos for a tasty treat. However, making it the traditional way is very time consuming and not exactly healthy either. For the busy successful single guy, both are important issues.

So to make it healthier and simpler, I came up with this recipe. It tastes just the same as traditional carnitas, but is healthier and doesn’t require as much work on your part. First you take a pork roast, 2 to 3 pounds should be good, and put it in a slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker you should get one. It is one of the best tools that a single guy can have in his kitchen. Once the pork roast is in the slow cooker add o roughly chopped onions (One half of a medium sized onion should work), diced jalapenos ( 8 ounces,fresh or canned), a tablespoon of minced garlic, and about a half cup of salsa verde. It will take 4 to six hours to cook on high or 6 to 8 hours on low so plan accordingly. 

Once the pork has become tender enough that you can shred it with a fork or your fingers, use a slotted spoon and scoop it out of the liquid it has been cooking in and let it cool in the fridge for about a half hour. Leave the liquid and veggies in the slow cooker, While it is cooling, take the time to put together any toppings or sides that you enjoy. I serve my carnitas with refried black beans, sliced tomato, diced green onion, fresh made guacamole, Greek yogurt, and Taco Time brand taco sauce. Once the pork has cooled, go ahead and shred it. At the same time you should be heating some oil in a pan. I use two tablespoons of canola oil in a cast iron skillet. 

Once the oil is hot and the pork is shredded, dump the pork into the pan and let it get brown and crusty on one side of the meat. Once it has crusted on one side, dump the reserved liquid into the pan with the pork and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Let every thing simmer together until most of the liquid has evaporated out. Then turn off the heat. Take a warmed tortilla, spoon in some refried beans and then top that with the carnitas. Spoon some of the guacamole over the top of the meat, add some yogurt over that, then layer on the tomato and green onion. Sprinkle on some shredded cheese and then top it all with the taco sauce. There you go; you have a nice tasty carnitas taco that is a meal all on it’s own. This recipe makes enough for five or six tacos so you can even share them with friends or put leftovers away and warm them up later. A few margaritas and some chips and salsa and you have yourself a fiesta!

Now, as a bonus I am going to give you the recipe for homemade guacamole. You need at least two avocados, but you can use more if you like. The avocados should be soft, but not so soft as to be rotten. A good mix of some really soft avocados and some that are more firm give you a nice chunky consistency. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the shell and into a medium sized bowl. Next, measure out a tablespoon of lime juice and dump it over the avocados. The lime juice has acid in it; that stops oxidation and keeps the avocado from turning brown. Mash the avocados with the back of the spoon until they reach the consistency you like.  Now for my secret ingredient, simple store bought salsa. If you can get freshly prepared salsa then that is the best. If not Herdez brand salsa works the best. The ratio of salsa to avocado is 1/2 cup of salsa for every two avocados. Mix everything together and walla, homemade guacamole.

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