Welcome back readers – and happy 2012! I hope everyone had an enjoyable and restful holiday season – if restful was possible during that time of year.
My holiday was a whirlwind. I spent five days home in Iowa, where I celebrated Christmas with my family, and five days in Louisana, were I attended the wedding of Chris’s cousin in Baton Rouge and celebrated New Year’s in New Orleans. It was a wonderful introduction to Louisiana that included gumbo served with potato salad (a common practice – I was told), beignets and au laits at Cafe DuMonde, a celebratory hurricane shared with my newly-minted fiance at Pat O’Briens on New Year’s Eve, a sazerac at the Swizzle Stick Bar, a New Year’s Eve jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace (one of the many highlights of the trip), and a New Year’s day feast, made by Chris’s mother, of black-eyed peas, smothered cabbage and corned beef, crab dip, meatballs, and many, many desserts. It was a hearty and delicious spread that topped off a delicious week. I returned to Louisville wanting more vegetables and fruit, but also craving more po boys and gumbo.
And if you didn’t catch my news above – Chris and I are engaged! This happened New Year’s Eve along the Mississippi River in New Orleans. I was shocked and surprised before total happiness set in. Looks like I’m stuck with my cheese-grater-sous-chef-dish-washer-love-of-my-life for a while.
Anyway – I promise not to turn this food blog into a wedding blog, so on to the recipe.
I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy consuming pork tacos. I love them. I’ve made these spiced oven carnitas twice now – and both resulted in slightly different dishes. The first time I made it was for my family when I was home in Iowa last November for my grandmother’s funeral. My mom had a large pork roast in the freezer of unknown origin. I made it and probably didn’t salt it enough. The tacos were very tasty, but not as good as the slow-cooked pork tacos that I called the best dish I’d ever made.
I made them a second time on a busy weekend in December when I had to work and wanted to use up a pork shoulder from our CSA crowding the freezer. I made sure to use enough salt and the pork was high quality, locally raised pork. It was delicious. The kind of delicious where you stand over the pan nibbling and can’t stop. This is a winning recipe that is pretty easy and cooks largely unattended. If you make this, I recommend using good quality pork. If you don’t eat meat that often, like Chris and me, it is easier to afford better cuts of meat less often.
They reheat well and are great with corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, and salsa (or guacamole, sour cream, etc.). I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.
“spiced oven carnitas” from Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand
serves about 8
5 to 6 pound pork shoulder roast (also called butt roast)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 T. ground cumin
2 t. ground allspices
1 t. ground cinnamon
4 sprigs fresh oregano
6 garlic cloves, cut in half
juice and zest of one orange
juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 c. white wine
Preheat the oven to 350. Trim the pork roast of large sections of fat. Cut the roast into 4 evenly-sized pieces. Pat them dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven (a large, oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sear the pork pieces one at a time, for several minutes on each side until well-browned. Remove from the heat.
Place the pork pieces back in the pot. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, cumin, allspice, and cinnamon.
Tuck the oregano sprics and garlic between the pieces. Sprinkle the lemon and orange zest. Pour the lemon and orange juices and white wine over it all.
Cover the pot and bake for 2 1/2 hours. When the pork is very tender, take it out of the oven. Keep the lid on the pot and let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and shred with two forks. Serve hot.