Cooking Homesick Texan Carnitas With Avocado Salad & Grilled Onions & Peppers

A few weeks ago my wife sent me Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Homesick Texan Carnitas. It sounded both simple and tasty, so I decided to give it a whirl. I decided to add some grilled onions and peppers because I had both lying around and also an avocado salad that’s basically just chopped avocado, tomato, onion, basil and garlic. I also served them on small tortillas, but made the mistake of heating them up on a baking sheet instead of wrapping them up in foil. The problem with doing it the way I went was that you wind up with mostly crispy tortillas.

But, like I said, the actual carnitas recipe  was easy, so I didn’t mind adding a few more things to the process. The night before we had this for dinner, I made the orange juice/lime juice/cumin/garlic/salt sauce and butchered the butt. The recipe calls for a boneless pork butt, which I recommend because trying to get the meat off those curvy bones was not easy. Prepping this stuff ahead of time was a great way to go because it meant I could easily plop the meat into my Dutch oven, pour the liquid over and then add water to start the two hour simmer period.

While that simmered for the two hours, I went back to work, returning to the kitchen when the period was over. During the 45 minute higher heat portion of the cooking time, I got the rest of my stuff done. The peppers and onions were very simple. I just sliced them up and tossed them in a cast iron grill pan until they showed the familiar grill marks I’ve seen when I order fajitas in restaurants. I’d never done this before, but winging it worked pretty well. I also got the oven ready to heat the tortillas, but like I said, it makes more sense to wrap them in tin foil to stop them from getting crispy.

I also put the avocado salad together. As you can see from the picture, all you do is chop up some basil leaves (rolling them up and then using kitchen scissors is really the way to go), two plum tomatoes, an onion and two avocados, put them in a boll and stir in the juice from a pair of squeezed limes. You could easily throw this in a food processor and you’d have guacamole, but I wanted to try it this way and see how it worked out. I actually liked the larger chunks of onions and ate some of the leftovers with chips, chips made from the toasty tortillas, actually. As my wife mentioned to me, the basil in the mix really brought something new and interesting to the table.

With all that done, I shredded up some cheddar, took the kitchen scissors to some green onions and set laid everything out on the table. It looks pretty formidable when it’s all together, but it wasn’t really that big of a deal. I’ve made tacos a lot of times using different methods, but usually stick to the basic ingredients. It was nice to try something different and mostly succeed. Also, I’ve only had carnitas a time or two, but this mixture was fantastic and citrus-y, a wonderful combination that makes me want to make carnitas over and over again.

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