Pork Carnitas

Mexican food has always been a favorite with my family. Tacos made from crispy, tender pork filling in double soft corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo and sour cream are just heaven in my book. My Pork Carnitas are a succulent filling that also works in enchiladas and burritos.

Succulent Pork Carnitas Tacos (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Succulent Pork Carnitas Tacos (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The traditional way of braising pork in oil and/or lard isn’t the healthiest for those who are watching their weight. My version of pork carnitas, made with thick marbled boneless pork end pieces, fat free chicken broth/stock, orange juice, onions, and seasonings, is a bit healthier. You can also use a whole boneless pork shoulder which will increase the cooking time, but will be just as tasty! Other pork cuts will work if they are well-marbled. The fat will break down and soften the pork while it cooks.

Start by seasoning your pork with salt and pepper. Sear the pork over medium heat in canola oil until browned on both sides.

Season the pork and sear it until brown on both sides (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Season the pork and sear it until brown on both sides (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the browned pork from the pan. Slice some onion.

Slice some onion for the carnitas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Slice some onion for the carnitas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the sliced onion to the pan. Place the browned pork on top of the onions.

Add onions to the pan then add the pork on top (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add onions to the pan then add the pork on top (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Let the onions and pork cook for about 5 minutes. Season the pork with some cumin and ancho chile powder.

Add some powdered cumin and ancho chile powder to the pork (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some powdered cumin and ancho chile powder to the pork (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Then add the chicken broth/stock and orange juice.

Add the chicken stock and  orange juice (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the chicken stock and orange juice (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Let the pork simmer over low heat, covered, for 30 – 60 minutes or until the pork starts to fall apart.

The pork is simmering (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The pork is simmering (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The pork will begin to fall apart. Use a fork or tongs to shred the meat. Keep simmering until all of the liquid has evaporated.

Keep simmering until the liquid has evaporated (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Keep simmering until the liquid has evaporated (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Turn up the heat slightly and keep stirring to ensure the liquid is gone.

Pork carnitas are almost done (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pork carnitas are almost done (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

At this point, you can refrigerate the carnitas overnight. Store in the refrigerator in a non-metallic container with a tight-fitting lid.

If you are ready to serve the carnitas, spread the shredded pork into a shallow baking dish.

Spread the carnitas in a shallow baking pan and bake until they are crispy (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spread the carnitas in a shallow baking pan and bake until they are crispy (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake the carnitas in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 5 – 10 minutes keeping watch so they don’t burn.

Crisp the carnitas in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crisp the carnitas in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the carnitas have browned on the edges and are crispy, remove them from the oven.

Crispy Pork Carnitas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crispy Pork Carnitas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And get ready to serve! Offer with double corn tortillas for wrapping. Top with sauteed onions and bell peppers and pico de gallo.

Top the Pork Carnitas with Pico de Gallo (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top the Pork Carnitas with Pico de Gallo (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sour cream or Mexican crema add an additional richness to the tacos!

Pork Carnitas Tacos topped with Pico de Gallo and Sour Cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pork Carnitas Tacos topped with Pico de Gallo and Sour Cream (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 T canola oil
2 lbs pork end pieces or boneless pork shoulder, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 T powdered cumin
1 t ancho chile powder
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
4 c fat free chicken broth/stock
1/2 c orange juice

Method:

1. Warm the canola oil in a chef’s pan over medium heat.
2. Sear the pork on each side until browned but not cooked through.
3. Remove the pork and set aside.
4. Add the onions to the pan.
5. Put the pork back on top of the onions.
6. Season the pork with the cumin and ancho chile powder.
7. Let the onions sweat for 5 minutes with the pork pieces on top of them.
8. Add the chicken stock and orange juice.
9. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer the pork mixture for 30 – 60 minutes.
10. The pork will begin to fall apart into chunks.
11. When the liquid has evaporated, and the pork is very tender, pull it apart with some tongs or two forks.
12. Remove the pork from the pan, and place in a glass pyrex baking dish.
13. Bake the pork for 5 – 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the meat starts to crisp and brown on the edges.
14. Serve!

Makes about 2 cups of carnitas. Offer with corn tortillas, grilled onion and bell pepper strips, pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onion, and cilantro), and a touch of sour cream or Mexican crema. Guacamole, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheese are also tasty toppers.

Variations: Substitute boneless chicken or turkey breasts for the pork. Omit the orange juice and add more chicken broth/stock. Use vegetable broth/stock instead of chicken. Add some tequila during the simmering phase for a different flavor.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Seared Snapper over Summer Vegetable Stew

Summer always means an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs in the garden. Your local grocer and farmers’ markets are showcasing a fabulous bounty of garden treats. Take advantage of them with my satisfying and light Seared Snapper over Summer Vegetable Stew.

Seared Snapper over Summer Vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Seared Snapper over Summer Vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My husband and I were away from home for a long weekend. We wanted to create a nice seafood-based dish for dinner that also took advantage of the care package of fresh vegetables and herbs offered by our neighbor the day before we left home.

Just a few of the garden vegetables shared by our neighbor (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Just a few of the garden vegetables shared by our neighbor (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The local seafood market at our weekend destination offered some nice fresh snapper fillets. My husband wanted to sear the snapper fillets and I came up with the idea of a summer vegetable stew as the base for the fish.

Red Snapper (Photo Courtesy Wikipedia.org)

Red Snapper (Photo Courtesy Wikipedia.org)

I selected roasted corn, red bell pepper, red onion, zucchini and chopped parsley for the summer vegetable stew. Saute the vegetables, then let them stew a bit in some white wine and seafood stock.

Sear the snapper fillets in some olive oil. Plate the summer vegetable stew and top with the snapper fillets. Garnish with herbs.

Summer Vegetables create a savory bed for Seared Snapper (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Summer Vegetables create a savory bed for Seared Snapper (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve with some toasted baguette slices and a side salad and enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Seared Snapper over Summer Vegetable Stew

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, 1/2 inch dice
1 c roasted corn
1 c diced tomatoes
1/2 c seafood or chicken stock/broth
1/4 c white wine
2 T chopped fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary, or parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

1 T canola oil
salt and pepper
4 snapper fillets, skin-on

Herbs for garnish

Method:

1. Warm a chef’s pan over medium heat.
2. Add the olive oil and butter to the pan.
3. When the butter has melted, saute the onion in the oil and butter mixture until the onion is slightly soft but not browned.
4. Add the diced zucchini and cook until the zucchini has softened, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the roasted corn and the diced tomatoes. Simmer for about 5 minutes more.
6. Add the seafood or chicken stock/broth and the white wine. Let simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes so the stew liquid reduces a bit.
7. While the summer vegetable stew is simmering, in a non-stick pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat.
8. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the flesh side of the snapper fillets.
9. Sear the fillets in the olive oil, flesh side down until they are browned and crispy. Turn them over and continue cooking until the fish feels firm to the touch, but not over cooked.
10. Season the summer vegetable stew with the chopped herbs, salt and pepper.
11. Ladle the stew onto serving plates.
12. Top each plate of stew with the snapper fillets, spooning some sauce over the fillets, and serve!

Serves 4 as a main course. Offer with a side salad such as my Simple Cucumber Salad or Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Peppered Goat Cheese and some crusty bread or toasted baguette.

Variations: Use your favorite fish. Salmon, rockfish, grouper, flounder, halibut, cod, and tilapia all work well in this dish. Add in-season vegetables from your garden such as green beans, bell peppers, sweet peas and even diced potatoes.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Simple Cucumber Salad

Simple Cucumber Salad with Fresh Dill (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simple Cucumber Salad with Fresh Dill (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s that time of year when your garden may be overflowing with produce. My Simple Cucumber Salad is cool and refreshing, and a great way to use those extra cucumbers!

Fresh cucumbers from my neighbor's garden!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Fresh cucumbers from my neighbor’s garden! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My usual cucumber salad is made with Greek yogurt and sour cream. This recipe is different: I use lemon juice and a bit of dill vinegar to make a clear simple dressing. Then, I add some chopped dill from my garden, some sugar or honey to balance out the tartness, a bit of salt and pepper, and thinly sliced peeled cucumbers for a cool fresh salad.

Fresh dill from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Fresh dill from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s one added step to let the cucumbers soften. After peeling and slicing the cucumbers, just place the slices in a colander and sprinkle with some salt. They will lose some of their “juice.” Then you can pour off the juice and add the dressing.

Simple Cucumber Salad pairs well with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simple Cucumber Salad pairs well with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Simple Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

2 large cucumbers
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t dill vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 T freshly chopped dill
1 t sugar or honey
salt and pepper

Method:

1. Peel and thinly slice the cucumbers.
2. Place the cucumber slices in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle the cucumbers with a little bit of salt, stir, and set aside for about 30 minutes. This step will remove some of the liquid from the cucumbers, making them soft and silky.
3. Remove the cucumber liquid and discard or set aside for another use.
4. In a non-metallic bowl, combine the cucumbers, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, and sugar or honey. Stir lightly until cucumbers are coated with the dressing.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a salad side dish. Offer with my Grilled Lamb Meatballs and some warm pita, or alongside The Best Burger instead of fries.

Variations: Peel and slice some zucchini and add to the cucumbers. Add some finely chopped shallots or minced garlic for a different flavor. Skip the colander step if you prefer crispier cucumbers. Try fresh chopped basil or chives instead of dill.

Lemony Dill Cucumber Salad is a cool and refreshing side dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Lemony Dill Cucumber Salad is a cool and refreshing side dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Grilled Lamb Meatballs

A few years ago, my husband and I met a nice couple who were originally from Turkey. The couple was in the restaurant business, and owned one of our favorite French restaurants. Many times, we were invited to their home for casual family meals and elegant dinner parties. The grilled meat patties, also known as kofta, along with other traditional Turkish foods, were highlights of the casual menus. My Grilled Lamb Meatballs are my attempt to recreate some of that flavor!

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with Greek yogurt dipping sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with Greek yogurt dipping sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My husband makes an amazing rack of lamb. Garlicky and herby, it’s a favorite dish in the cooler months. We also enjoy other lamb dishes such as Monica Bhide’s Lamb Chili and my Grilled Lamb Burgers over Lentils with Minty Yogurt Sauce. Since my local Whole Foods Market has ground lamb in the meat case, I like to buy it in bulk when on sale, and freeze it to use at a later date.

My lamb meatball patties recipe uses cooked couscous as a binder. You could substitute breadcrumbs if you wish. These “meatballs” are really oval-shaped meat patties. Mix together ground lamb, egg, some couscous, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. Add some salt and pepper. Form into oval-shaped patties, place on skewers, chill for 30 minutes.

Form the lamb meatball patties in an oval shape and place on skewers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Form the lamb meatball patties in an oval shape and place on skewers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And grill to perfection!

Crusty Lamb Meatball Patties, hot off the grill!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crusty Lamb Meatball Patties, hot off the grill! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For the Greek yogurt sauce, stir together plain Greek yogurt, minced cucumber, lemon juice, chopped parsley and chopped mint. Season with a pinch of salt and some cumin.

Serve the grilled lamb meatball patties with a cucumber Greek yogurt sauce and a cool lemony cucumber dill salad. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve the grilled lamb meatball patties with a cucumber Greek yogurt sauce and a cool lemony cucumber dill salad. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Grilled Lamb Meatballs with Greek Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients:

12 oz ground lamb
1 egg
1/2 c cooked couscous (follow package directions)
1/2 c sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh mint
2 t salt
2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 t ground cumin
2 t ground paprika
1 t ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Form into four oval-shaped meatball patties.
3. Slide the meatball patties onto double skewers.
4. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. Heat grill on high while patties are chilling in refrigerator.
6. Remove the meatball patties from the refrigerator and place on grill.
7. Brush with some canola or olive oil (optional) and grill over hot coals/flame for about 4 – 5 minutes on each side.
8. Use a spatula to turn the meatballs to their other side. Be careful that the meatballs don’t fall apart when turning them on the grill, and remember the skewers are hot!
9. When the meatballs are browned and slightly crusty on the outside, remove them carefully from the hot skewers, and serve!

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Greek Yogurt Sauce:

1 c plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c finely chopped cucumber
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
1 T finely chopped parsley
1 T finely chopped mint
1 t salt

Mix together all ingredients and set aside or chill until ready to use. Makes about 1.5 cups.

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Makes 4 meatball patties. Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side to a salad. Offer with my herby Greek yogurt sauce and some warmed flatbread.

Variations: Use your favorite spice combinations. Add some ground chicken or turkey to the ground lamb. Make smaller round meatballs for grilling on skewers instead of the flat oval meatball patties (shorten grilling time to 2 – 3 minutes each side). You could also broil the meatball patties in the oven. Serve on a bun and eat as a sandwich with the Greek yogurt sauce as a topping to the meat.

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with a side of Greek yogurt sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Lamb Meatball Patties with a side of Greek yogurt sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Summer Ratatouille

If your vegetable garden is overflowing with zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers, you can make a wonderful Summer Ratatouille! There are several ways to make ratatouille. Mine is more like a veggie “stew” with zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, and herbs! The traditional version calls for eggplant. You can certainly add eggplant, but I didn’t have any on hand!

Zucchini, Tomato and Red Bell Pepper Ratatouille (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Zucchini, Tomato and Red Bell Pepper Ratatouille (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The best version of this dish that I ever ate was in Tampa, Florida. The restaurant was an old-style Italian restaurant with very high-end Italian food. Their slightly smoky ratatouille was served as a side dish. The waiter seemed to be surprised at how much I liked it. Never did find out their secret to the smokiness, although I suspect they grilled or roasted the vegetables in the dish before sauteing them together.

This is a simple recipe that just requires a little time to cook to perfection. Don’t overcook the vegetables or they will be a mushy mess.

Use that overabundance of zucchini that you’re harvesting in your garden. Or find a nice specimen at your local farmers’ market or grocery store produce section. Slice the zucchini into about 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Local Virginia-grown zucchini squash from Lois' Produce at Whole Foods Markets (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Local Virginia-grown zucchini squash from Lois’ Produce at Whole Foods Markets (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Find some tasty ripe tomatoes. Core the tomatoes, and then dice them into cubes.

Tomatoes from my garden!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomatoes from my garden! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Find a nice bell pepper. Pick whatever color you like, or use a mixture of colors. Remove the core and seeds from the pepper, and slice it thinly.

Whole Foods Market's colorful bell pepper selection (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whole Foods Market’s colorful bell pepper selection (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Start with some olive oil and butter. Melt them together in a pan. Then peel and slice a small yellow onion and saute in the oil and butter until the onion is translucent. Add two minced garlic cloves and the thinly sliced bell pepper. Cook until the pepper has softened slightly. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and thinly sliced zucchini zucchini. Cook until the zucchini has slightly softened. Then add some dried basil and oregano, some dry white wine, and some vegetable stock. Let that simmer slowly for about 15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and serve!

You can certainly add eggplant, as I’d mentioned, and some sliced mushrooms. Yellow squash works well in this dish.

Summery Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille alongside Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Summery Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille alongside Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Super simple and flavorful, it’s a superb vegetable side dish to a serving of pasta!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Zucchini Tomato Pepper Ratatouille

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half lengthwise, and then thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4 inch thin matchsticks (or use half green and half red, or a different combination of pepper colors)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thin rounds
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Warm the olive oil, and melt the butter with it, over medium-low heat in a skillet.
2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
3. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes.
4. Add the bell pepper and cook until the pepper has softened slightly.
5. Add the tomatoes and zucchini and cook until the zucchini has softened.
6. Add the basil, oregano, white wine, and vegetable stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated yet the vegetables are not mushy.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Serve!

Serves 4 as a side dish. Offer with a plate of The Best Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and a Caesar Salad. Another option is to serve alongside my Creamy Basil Arugula Pesto Tortellini.

Variations: Use whatever vegetables you have in your garden. Eggplant, mushrooms, and yellow squash are nice additions to this dish. Substitute thyme, parsley, tarragon or your favorite herbs for the basil and oregano. You can lighten this dish by omitting the oil and butter and using a non-stick skillet.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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