Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday Dinners: Carnitas: Meat-Filled Tortillas with Toppings!

When I was a little girl, my mother often orchestrated a do-it-yourself cupcake decorating party. Though the fare is quite different, I couldn't help but think of that when I made this dinner on Sunday night! The beauty of this dinner, which is essentially a fill-it-your-way kind of meal, is just that: guests can decide how much they want of each item. And okay cousins (Donna and Eric, that would be YOU!), you reminded me of how much I love this by making it during the Christmas holiday!
Brown Basmati Rice with Red Pepper and a Sprinkle of Parsley,  and Salad of Leafy Greens, Apple and Toasted Pecans in the Foreground

And, truth be told, I'm playing with this recipe because, my friends, it will be on the menu in my restaurant! (News on that to come!) However, I'm planning on a roasted tomatillo salsita...and will share that soon! 

So I set this up, offering an additional option of shredded chicken along with the pork.  And even though I usually plate the dishes for my parents, it's still fun in it's assembly-line-like set up (and I asked my father to look at the line up before I served them. He responded with a big, "I love you, Sweetheart!" and a hug. So nice to be so appreciated. And speaking of appreciated, the flavors were also very well received. Even my father-in-law (who's not the most adventurous in the food department!) liked this combo. Hope you do, too!
Shredded Pork, Chicken, and Cheese--Sour Cream, Guacamole, Salsta--and Toasted Tortillas 


Serves 8 to 10

Olive oil 
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
2 Turkish bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 tomatoes (I used the smaller-sized gorgeous beefsteaks that I found)
1 quart Homemade Chicken Stock or canned broth
12 to 15 homemade or  store-bought corn tortillas
For serving: 
2  cups fresh tomato salsa, homemade or store bought with fresh cilantro sprigs
1 cup guacamole
Sour cream
Shredded cheese

Heat  a bit of olive oil in a deep heavy skillet.  Combine the pork, garlic, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, cumin, salt, and pepper and start to brown the pork. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Then, using your hands, squeeze the pulp and seeds out of the tomatoes. Stir so that the tomato is spread around and cook another few minutes. Then add the chicken stock and enough water to almost cover the meat.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to very low and cover. 

Cook at a barely a  simmer for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the pork is very tender. Add stock or water as needed to keep the pork partially covered with liquid. (This I did the day before, and then refrigerated and removed fat the next day.) Reserve some of the broth for reheating. 

When cooked and cooled,  remove the pork and place in another bowl. Then shred each piece; place shredded pork in a pot for reheating (you'll use the broth for this, too!)

Meanwhile, prepare homemade tortillas. I toast them on a gas stove, and then wrap them in a kitchen towel. Or you can wrap them in foil, and keep them warm in a preheated 300°F oven.  

To serve, top the tortillas with the pork (or chicken!), salsa, guacamole, cheese and sour cream as desired! 

Starting to Plate! What a feast of colors! 

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