Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pork Carnitas

I am slowly starting to use my crock pot a bit more often. So far I am loving it for shredded or pulled meat - beef, chicken, or pork. The crock pot makes it so tender that it just falls apart with 2 forks - barely any effort required!

Last week I made pork carnitas in the crock pot. 5 minutes to get it cooking? Yes, please! Even better, it only requires a few ingredients.

The most important step, in my opinion, was browning and crisping the pork after shredding it. I loved the added texture and crunch from the caramelized brown bits on the pork. Once I browned the pork I served it over rice with some fresh cilantro. Next time I will make some nice street style tacos with the meat, queso fresco, pickled red onions and cilantro.

Pork Carnitas
Source: RecipeTin Eats

I cut the recipe in half and used a different cut of meat. The ingredients below are based on how I made the pork.

  • One 2.5-lb pork loin (I prefer using a loin over a shoulder - less fat to deal with when shredding)
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (remove the ribs and seeds for less heat)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c orange juice
  • Season the pork with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the oil, oregano and cumin; rub all over the pork.
  • Place the pork in your crock pot, fat cap up.
  • Top with the onions, jalapenos and garlic, and then pour in the orange juice.
  • Cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 6 hours.
  • Skim off the fat and shred the meat using 2 forks. Keep warm.
  • When ready to eat - heat 1 tsp olive oil in a sauté pan (stainless steel preferred). Add one serving of pork and cook until the bottom side is golden brown and crusty.
  • Serve over rice or in tacos. Use the extra juices if you'd like and top with cilantro.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mexican Grilled Corn Salad with Citrus Aioli

One of the summer's stars is definitely fresh, sweet corn.

I have mentioned this in my blog before that every week or 2 in the summer, my dad drives across the river to a small farm stand in NJ. He always comes back with the best tomatoes, zucchini, and of course, corn.

I like corn on the cob, but my favorite way to enjoy this summer treat is off the cob. The other night I decided to take it out of the husks and grill it for a salad.

If you have corn to use, make this salad. I thought it was out of this world good! There are so many flavors going on that just WORK together - the sweet corn, the salty cheeses, the bright cilantro and the bright and creamy dressing - seriously, O.M.G. good!

I made a few minor changes by adding grilled red onion, omitting the melted butter, changing the quantities, serving it at room temp (not hot), and in general changing how it was all put together (I simplified it). I plan on making this for every gathering I have as well as every one I go to for the rest of the summer - it was THAT good! So please do yourself a favor and make this ASAP. You will thank me!
Mexican Grilled Corn Salad with Citrus Aioli
Adapted from: Food and Wine
(serves 4)
  • 5 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 1/4 of a large red onion, sliced into rings.
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest plus 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard (or more, if needed, after tasting)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or less - depends on how much heat you want)
  • 1 oz crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 oz crumbled cotija cheese
  • handful each of fresh parsley and cilantro, chopped
  • Make the aioli: mix the mayo, lime zest, lime juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, Dijon, garlic, and cayenne. Season with salt. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
  • Heat your grill to high. Brush the corn and red onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the corn 8-10 minutes until cooked and slightly charred. Let cool before cutting the kernels off the cob and chopping the onion.
  • Toss the corn kernels and chopped onion with the cilantro and parsley. Add in the dressing slowly (I didn't need to use all of mine) and then add in the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Serve immediately.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grilled Lemon-Oregano Chicken and Chopped Vegetable Salad

Lemons inspired part of this meal. I had a bunch to use, so I came up with a lemon, oregano and garlic marinade for chicken. And on a 90 degree day, grilled chicken over a crisp and cold salad is the perfect dinner for me.

My other inspiration came from 2 ciabatta rolls sitting on my counter. My favorite thing in a summer salad - grilled ciabatta bread. Cut a ciabatta loaf (or a roll for a smaller salad/less people), spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until charred to your liking and then slice into bite sized pieces.

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken and Chopped Vegetable Salad

The Marinade
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c light olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
Combine all ingredients and pour over the chicken. Marinate, covered, in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours.  Heat grill to high and grill chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving over the salad.

The Salad

You can use whatever you'd like. My salad consisted of:
  • Mixed greens
  • Sliced red, green, orange and yellow peppers
  • Chickpeas
  • Marinated artichokes
  • Cucumbers
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil
  • Grilled ciabatta bread.
  • Salt and pepper
I didn't need to add dressing - the marinated artichokes, basil, salt and pepper added enough flavor.