Monday, July 25, 2011

birthday dinners

I recently invited a friend to dinner for his birthday (well more for dinner, considering he brought the dessert).

I decided on carnitas--Patrick, my friend, likes Mexican food, I like Mexican food, and because I've made this recipe a number of times, I figured it was a sure bet.

I started with a recipe from The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy, and after reading recipe reviews, have made a few adaptations.  The result is quite tasty.

I start with a 3 pound lump of pork butt.

Trim the fat and cut in to similar sized cubes. Add meat to dutch oven or cast iron pot, with a tablespoon of oil. Brown meat.

Once meat is brown, add enough water to cover meat (about 3 cups), along with the following:
- one orange, cut into 8 pieces
- one onion, sliced
- 4 sprigs fresh marjoram
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 2 hours.  At this point I let the pot cool and refrigerated overnight. 
After a night in the frig, i skimmed the fat off the top, removed sprigs of thyme and marjoram, oranges, and bay leaves.  Heat pot and cook down liquid--about 20 minutes. 
Once liquid is cooked off, turn up heat, add a tablespoon of oil if necessary, shred pork and allow it to crisp up just a bit.

Serve on corn tortillas, with your favorite topping--i like salsa verde, corn salsa, or pico de gallo.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

bike rides and potato salad

I definitely believe that food tastes better after strenuous physical activity--running, heavy lifting, etc.  This recipe, however, would most likely taste just as good without all of that work--although i felt better about having a second helping because i had worked so hard! 

Yesterday a friend and I went for a 35 mile bike ride--up and down Vermont's lovely hills and seriously neglected roads.  At the end of it all a beautiful pool and tasty dinner awaited us.  Dinner, the more important of the two, consisted of slow cooked, fall off the bone ribs, slathered with homemade bbq sauce (hopefully this recipe will be forthcoming), coleslaw and the following potato salad recipe:

Grilled Red Potato Salad with Bacon-Blue Cheese Vinaigrette (a bobby flay original)

Ingredients (enough for 8 servings)
4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed, cooked until almost tender, drained, and halved
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
Salt and freshly ground black 3/4 pound hickory smoked bacon
1 large red onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat grill. Toss potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill cut side down for 3 minutes. Turn over and continue grilling 2 to 3 minutes. Place in a large bowl.

Place medium skillet on stove or the grill and heat until almost smoking. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool and crumble.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, and sugar and cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour the onion mixture over the potatoes, add the crumbled bacon and parsley and toss to combine, season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Spoon the salad onto a large platter and sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese.

The flavors are so rich, a little goes a long way.

Tom and Gloria, thanks for a great day!!