Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gastronomy: Slow-Cooked Pork

Since moving to San Diego, one of the most notable revelations has been the accessibility to mouth-watering Mexican food—in particular, the pork of the gods. Whether visiting a street vendor, a take-out counter, or a sit-down venue, local Mexican chefs and cooks alike pride themselves on their pork dishes and brag that their offering is the best. They may have different methods and names like asada (grilled), al pastor (marinated), or carnitas (roasted in pork fat), but each one, in its own right, is always a meal to remember.

Although Mexican food in San Diego is both inexpensive and abundant, as an armchair cook, I desired to know the secrets that infused these memorable taste sensations. As a result, I embarked on a culinary journey of my own. After collecting and testing several asada, carnitas, and al pastor recipes, I finally mixed and combined my favorites to create a dish that rivals some of the best. The result? Tender, velvety, and rich pork—and always a family favorite.

Carnitas Roasted in Salsa Verde (green salsa)

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder (often referred to as pork butt); or 4 lbs pork shoulder, bone-in
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
½ t salt
½ t fresh ground pepper
2 T olive oil

1/2 c white wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 ½ c chicken broth
3 t grated orange zest
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, finely chopped
2 t fresh cilantro, chopped
1 t fresh oregano, chopped, or 1/2 t dried oregano
2 t fresh mint, chopped
2 t fresh basil, chopped
2 t lime juice
Green onion or chives, finely chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pork by rubbing with 2 of the minced garlic cloves and seasoning with salt and pepper. In large Dutch Oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork; brown on all dies, 12-15 minutes. Remove the pork to plate and set aside.

Deglaze Dutch Oven with white wine. Add the onion and reduce heat to medium; sauté onion for 6-7 minutes. Stir in remaining minced garlic clove, jalapeño pepper, and tomatillos; continue to sauté until all vegetables are tender, 5-10 minutes. Add chicken broth, orange zest, and oregano to Dutch Oven.

Return pork to Dutch Oven, coating with juices and vegetables. Cover and place in pre-heated oven; roast for 2 to 2.5 hours or until pork is tender.

Remove from oven and carefully lift pork to cutting board. If using pork shoulder, bone-in, separate meat from bone. Shred pork with fork (the pork should pull apart very easily); set aside.

To the remainder of sauce in the Dutch Oven, stir in cilantro, basil, mint, lime juice, and black pepper to taste.

Place meat in bowl and spoon sauce to taste over top; sprinkle with green onions or chives. Serve with warm tortillas or rice.

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After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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