Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Out to Lunch

With another nod to the Back to School theme I've at least briefly established, you'll want to be sure you aren't drinking anything when you go check out the list of The Ten Worst Lunch Boxes Ever. Or at least cover your keyboard with a plastic protector or something to prevent laugh/spew collateral damage. Seriously - you've been warned.

While we didn't have the following featured recipe for lunch, school or otherwise, sandwiches and more lunchy type items have been high on the dinner list around here lately. One reason is the continuing heat but we are all bored hearing about that, so we'll move to reason number two.

I have been seized with some sort of organizing bug of late and have actually cleared three areas in our house that had been suffering from Any Way You Want It, Here's the Place to Leave It syndrome for some time(read:a decade).

After spending hours attempting to sort through the accumulated cast offs of four people over a span of several years, by the time it got anywhere close to needing dinner I'd have worn myself out, what with all that cleaning and sorting and stopping to reminisce and boxing up and hauling off to the Goodwill Store. I made so many trips there I would not have been given a moment's pause to have pulled up to the Goodwill donations area around the back of their outlet to find a reserved spot with my name stenciled in.

Combine all that Sorting Fatigue with my determination to find more ways to work sardines into our menu and it was destiny that the recipe I spotted recently on Serious Eats for Sardine Sandwiches with Tomato Jam and Fresh Cheese would find its way onto our dinner plates in a big hurry.The only catch was the Tomato Jam component. Making that required a little heating up the kitchen and some attention, yes, but seeing as one of the areas I was tackling as part of my Get It Organized efforts was conveniently right off the kitchen, I worked it out.

Sardine Sandwich with Tomato Jam and Fresh Cheese
[Printable recipe here]
- serves 3 -
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, minced (onion will do in a pinch)

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon pimentón

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tin sardines packed in olive oil, about 4 ounces; skinless and boneless preferred

6 slices multigrain sandwich bread

1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, ricotta, or cream cheese

1 packed cup arugula (or mixed greens or baby spinach)

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until soft and fragrant, stirring regularly.Add the tomatoes, pimentón, salt, pepper, and sugar. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick and the juices have evaporated. Transfer to a bowl to cool. (This can be prepared up to a day in advance.)2. Drain the sardines and mash roughly with a fork. Slice the crusts off the bread and discard or save for bread crumbs. Toast the slices until golden brown.
3. Build the sandwiches: toast, cheese, tomato jam, sardines, arugula, toast.Use a sharp bread knife to halve diagonally.

Observant readers will note the recipe states this serves three people and there are two sandwiches ready for their top slice of bread on each plate in the photo. My multigrain loaf was a bit on the small side so I actually made four sandwiches with the idea I'd have reruns the next day for lunch. Turns out these were so savory good we ended up eating them all and promised never to tell. (ooops....)These photos, just to belabor the obvious, are of the sandwich prior to the second slice of bread being placed. I briefly thought of eating these open faced, but figured with the arugula on the tomato jam on the cheese that style would be begging for a sliding tectonic plate type disaster of ingredients moving off the bread onto our shirts or laps.

Maybe I was supposed to spread the tomato jam a bit thicker because I have some left over. Fiddlesticks! I'll just have to use it up, like on bruschetta with some goat cheese or something awful like that. Oh the trials of having good food around this very enjoy-it-while-it-lasts, neatly organized house...

Folks, if you are looking for ways to work sardines into your repertoire, this is your deal. The sardines are there, sure, but not in any particularly pushy fishy way. They play very nicely with the other ingredients to present your mouth with a truly blended flavor experience, not just a pile of particular ingredients.

Speaking of playing nicely... I fortunately managed to avoid any of the featured Ten Worst Lunch Boxes Ever disasters growing up. I did have a clear favorite however. My most cherished lunch box, hands down, was also my very first lunch box.Shaped and painted on the outside to look like a barn with an domed "roof", it opened to reveal a thermos painted like a matching grain silo that was clipped snugly into place under the arched top. I thought it was the most cunning thing I'd ever seen. I still do.

I carried that lunchbox for three consecutive years, until the handle tragically broke. I asked for another just like it, but styles had changed and my little barn box had gone out of vogue. I remember keenly mourning the loss. I treasured my clever little red barn lunch box so much. It was vastly superior to any of the pedestrian square lunch boxes that followed.


And you? Do you remember your coolest or most hysterically hideous lunch box ever? Were you secretly cool in public/feverishly adoring in private with any of yours? Did you ever secretly "lose" a particular lunch box preferring plain paper bags to the daily horror of having to produce and eat your lunch out of some terrifying fad? 'Fess up in the comments - we all want to know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Perfect Notebook

Did you feel it today? That shudder in the Force?

Today is the first day of school for most kids in these parts.

My kids are chronologically adults. It has been more than a decade since I wrangled the two of them into place for that tortuous "first day of school!" photograph. However, as I read a facebook update from a friend who still has a student in-house today, I was flooded with memories about the significance the start of a new year can hold.

When I was in elementary school especially, I enjoyed getting ready to go back to school much more than the act of actually returning to classes. No matter when my Mom and I had gone to get supplies, I would postpone getting them organized until the weekend before that first day of school.

The joy I took in setting up a new three ring binder each Fall was hands down my favorite ritual. I proceeded seriously, slowly, knowing that once I snapped those rings shut the final time it would never again be so sweet a sound. I might second guess and rearrange, but nothing, nothing about getting ready for a new school year held anything close to the promise of the Perfect Notebook.

Oh, yesss. The Perfect Notebook.

The ordering was significant in ways I could not fully articulate. Things could not simply be thrown in there willy nilly, OK? This was important. There were Herculean labors I set myself each year, tasks I believed if successfully completed might foretell if not guarantee my good fortune unfolding throughout the weeks and months of classes yet to be.

The first test of each year would be how well I managed to master this fresh chance to get my notebook divider tabs neatly written. I hated my handwriting early on. It seemed childish to me even while I was a child.

I could not understand how others seemingly effortlessly managed to control the loops and dips and connections of their letters. I practiced carefully writing out my subjects each year, experimenting. All caps? Printed or cursive? Whatever formula I employed it was paramount I not get stuck glaring with regret at sloppily scribbled subjects for another entire year.

Our subject dividers were manila pages with tabs fashioned out of clear colored plastic. There was a perforated piece of white card stock provided, pre-scored to fold neatly in half as each subject header was intended to be two sided.

This represented both an opportunity and a challenge because I only considered the job satisfactory when the writing met my approval on both sides of any given subject tab. If I screwed up once I could turn the tab inside out and begin again, but that would be my final opportunity. I tried substituting other pieces of paper for the supplied inserts but they typically fell out as soon as I hoisted the notebook, leaving an empty plastic tab as evidence of failure.

I know I accomplished a full set of neatly written tabs at least once or twice although honestly I do not currently recall if the school years following those calligraphic victories warranted the augury I laid at its feet. Assuming I got past that scribblers mire, however, there were still several crucial decisions to be made.The ordering of subjects and the associated color assignments loomed. Would English get the blue or the green tab? Social Studies orange or yellow this year? What to award the coveted ruby red tab? Would my most favorite class get a spot of honor with a red tab or would I appropriate the glory of red for a class I hoped it would elevate by proximity?

Some years I blithely ignored the colors altogether, coolly putting my class subject tabs in order of my schedule for the day. Other years I ranked my subjects in order of how much I liked them, privately enjoying my daily tiny joke on Arithmetic (last!!) for the entirety of 5th Grade.

If I managed all that with no snags, there were decisions regarding the division of that plastic wrapped pack of loose leaf binder notebook paper yet to conquer. Would I go with a basic arrangement this year and place an even number of pages in each section?

This was a farce, naturally, some subject sections ending up packed with smudgy blue mimeographed pages, others remaining empty as the nature of the course work dictated. But before the teachers had their say it was mine to decide. For the time being, I was the one in control.

And that was it, really. Control had become the key unlocking my "before school started" pleasure and I can pinpoint precisely when notebook control snapped into prominence.

It happened the summer we moved into a (nicer) new neighborhood between third and fourth grade. I loved my new room but faced being thrown into a class that had already sorted itself out into mysterious cliques. Attending a birthday party two weeks before school started had proved disastrous.

The invitation, arranged mother to mother, was quite well intentioned, but ignored the truth that a child's birthday party past the age of 3 or 4 is never truly a socially neutral gathering. There I was, a parentally inserted intruder awkwardly thrust into a backyard filled with excited soon to be classmates, currently strangers one and all.

I mostly stood to one side of the activities. Then a bird pooped on my plate of cake and melting ice cream. As I carefully brought my ruined food to the attention of the birthday girl's Mom she laughingly called out for a replacement. That triggered a spreading circle of exaggerated reactions of repulsion to my plate that mysteriously and quickly extended to me personally.

Young as I was, with that as my introductory experience, I just knew. There would be little of the social aspect of school under my control that coming year and not much positive to expect past that. That ship had sailed.

So it was that my notebook came to represent an island of decipherable calm prior to the storm of any given school year. If I could not control my social standing (and clearly I could not) then at the very least I could have my way with my school supplies.

Every year after that I would take my own sweet time getting that notebook together, enjoying the sense of control while it lasted. Putting in a pristine new zipper pouch replete with freshly sharpened number two pencils. Points up.

Lining up a row of blue ball point pens punctuated by the one red pen for self graded papers. Protecting the plastic edge of the pouch above the dangerously sharp pencils by carefully sliding into place above them my fresh new pink pearl eraser.Ah the joys of a fresh Pink Pearl. Those erasers only looked good for about a week. I typically lost every year's pink pearl long before I got close to using it up.

But just for that golden afternoon, everything was fine, in place, under control. There were no worries yet about where to sit at lunch. There were no fears at that point over the potentially nightmarish arbitrary alphabetical-by-surname seating arrangements. No faux pas to live down. Nary a single fashion blunder, cruel nickname or team choice humiliation to outlive.

Optimist that I was, at that point before the first bell had rung, the school year yet to come was all glowing potential. Every year was going to be the year I would finally come into my own, take my rightful place as leader, use everything I'd learned and figured out from all the years prior and make it all work to my advantage.

And if not? I had my wonderfully organized, perfect notebook as consolation.

Before anybody out there starts making calls to arrange a Get That Woman Some Therapy! Bake Sale I'll hasten to add that the skills I learned while navigating the not entirely friendly transition to a new school in 4th Grade eventually found me way ahead of most of my peers. When it came time to leave the safety of Elementary School and be thrown into a much larger regional Junior High setting, some of the Big Fish from that Elementary school never quite knew what had hit them. I, on the other hand, was already practiced at reading group boundaries, sensing where I could slip into or create my own space, and spotting other likely candidates for a new circle to call our own.

By the time we broke for Thanksgiving the first year of Jr. High I had found my own group of friends that pretty much stuck with each other all the way through High School. While I would be lying if I were to say I appreciated that hard start, I did learn some valuable lessons. Including, yeah, kick-ass notebook organizing skills.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


{Did It Myself, FINALLY!}

I adore looking at photos on the interweb of before and after DIY projects. It encourages my belief that some day soon I too will take one of the many objects cast aside by previous owners currently collecting dust in my house and refashion or repurpose it into a productive and creative new life.

The potential for such dramatic makeovers combined with the pleasure I derive in treasure hunting is the rationale behind (way too many) trips to second hand and thrift stores on my part. In the current economy, I'll stand by that approach as making a lot of sense.

I typically hurtle myself into two obstacles when it comes to DIY execution, however. First, it often takes me years to get a project started, much less completed.

While I am fabulous at seeing the potential in objects I lack great organizational skills. This means I do not have any sort of neatly arranged workshop area filled with the kinds of materials I would need to tackle many projects.

The second obstacle, and this one is much harder to address, is a generalized lack of the sort of editing discipline necessary to express a coherent viewpoint. This makes it difficult at times to keep every room in the house from randomly filling with TUPT (Tiny Unrelated Potential Treasures).This little footstool is one small project I recently completed. I replaced the old needlepoint covering and tacks with a reworked wool pillow top I had on hand that coordinates with other pillows already at use in the room.

I'd be more self congratulatory (because I am, indeed, pleased with how it turned out) but that sense of victory is tempered by the realization it took me nearly two years between when I purchased the piece and when I got around to doing anything with it.

Perhaps it isn't perfect, but that is another small victory for me as I am a recovering perfectionist. Working on that piece and then letting it go as "good enough" without using the "I can't get it to exactly where I want it" as an excuse to never begin, is an accomplishment on its own.
I am also feeling pretty good because recently I got one area of our house completely cleared out after allowing it to collect flotsam and jetsam including stuff "stored" from/for two adult children and other detritus from thrift store runs that had accumulated over a period of nearly 5 (that's right, FIVE) years. I'll be resting on those laurels for a while and deservedly so.

I go up there every so often now just to stand and stare at the lack of chaos. And smile. Yeah. I'm that dork.

Because not that I have any choice but I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for September in any way, shape or form. But that's mostly OK. When the feeling I ought to be doing something more strikes, I just go look at that footstool or the neatly cleared upstairs area until it subsides. Fortunately so far, it always does.

How about you? Does the reappearance of "back to school" ads send a new surge of energy coursing through you to tackle projects long stalled? Or do they rather find you wishing you had another month of summer...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Over But the Laundry, or "What I Did on My Summer Vacation"

I have been somewhat distracted the past few weeks and I apologize if you were checking here for new content because there wasn't any.

A blog represents something of a trust relationship. It seems to me when you find one you enjoy you rely upon that blog author to post at some pace that resembles regular intervals because frankly, there are thousands of good blogs out there and some of the sites post new material multiple times a day. It would be silly to think anybody would intentionally much less repeatedly waste time checking on a blog if the author has essentially checked out.

Which you would have every reason to think I had. So I rush to apologize for my inconsistency and partial absence but will offer the departure this morning of LawSchoolGirl as my explanation, if not my excuse.

You see, LSG was here for the summer (!), working in a firm downtown to get some experience of what legal practice is like out in the world beyond the ivy covered halls. Law students are required to do that summers, so her Dad and I rejoiced last Spring when we'd heard LSG had secured a spot in a firm here where we live (!!!).

I won't pretend, this was a really nice arrangement for me. This summer LSG and I Netflixed, shopped, ate out, prepared special dishes together, shopped, and watched our guilty pleasure television (Bravo and HGTV) for hours, mostly because we could. ChefSon even dropped in more than usual, as the potential to hang out with LSG made the homestead option that much more a draw for his rare and coveted days off.

It has been delightful, even factoring in the failure of her cat and our cat to establish a pecking order so they could get past the spit-and-chase stage and declare kitty detente. Despite our carefully orchestrated introductions, the two kitty divas spent the entire summer fiercely resolute as solo Rulers of Their Known Universe(s).

Sadly for me though, summers always end. LSG had a burst of "getting ready for corporate interviews and the coming school year" errands that dominated her last couple of weeks in town and I helped as I could, all while trying to ignore the lurking enemy the calendar had become.

Most of yesterday was spent packing everything up to go Back to School. We loaded her car and I prepared a promised first try at baby back ribs, one of LSG's favorites. This morning, crack of dawnish, LSG fed her cat, moved human and feline provisions for the drive from her room and the refrigerator to her car, then headed back down the drive one last time to return for her second year of studies.

I offered my usual supportive routine. Slept poorly, got up too early, and did pretty well not to offer more than twice to fix her a breakfast she had no intention of eating. Then after heaving an industrial sized sigh as the Hub and I held each other and watched her car pull away, I sadly headed up to her room to strip the bed and organize the ritual Visit-is-Over laundry.

Past that I swear I only called her twice. First to make sure she knew she had left one thing it turns out she didn't mean to leave and then once more to make sure she hadn't unintentionally left something behind it turns out she definitely intended to.

Hey. I had Union Rules to follow to make certain LSG realized early on in her trip back to Independence Land, that there are advantages and disadvantages to being an adult living directly under Mommy's watchful gaze.

But past that, basically there you have it all. My tale of Why I Failed To Post Regularly for the Past Few Weeks. After throwing hand to forehead some, perhaps taking a nap [or two] until I know she is safely back in Michigan again (Protestant Sleep Reflex - we'll get into that some other time), I promise I will be right back here, doing the Austin Agrodolce thing. Reg-u-lar-ly. Really. Pinky swear.

Thanks for reading this far. If you've stuck with me 'til now, you might as well hang in and see what fun we can come up with next. Yeah? Yeah! Onward into the fray.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Reruns

Back in the dark ages when I was young, summertime did not make for particularly great television watching.

There would be wonderful old movies on past a certain hour, but most of the prime time viewing fare featured reruns. Long before TIVO or DVR features allowed us to devise our own viewing schedules, it was not altogether unpleasant although totally mandatory somehow to sit together and watch our favorite episodes rebroadcast. Whatever choices we had made to watch a particular show during the regular season, it seemed unthinkable to watch anything else once the reruns began.

Seeing certain shows again could be a bit more of a relaxed experience however, especially while I was still young and naive enough not to have figured out that the stars of these shows, the people we tuned in to see, while they might be placed in predictable enough jeopardy, would not ever be killed off in a weekly episode.

Yes, for an otherwise bright little girl, I admit, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the main characters in a series would never actually die on the show. For whatever reason my family mostly only watched TV together, we never really talked about what we were watching. So there I would be, sitting casually to belie the fact I was tensely holding my breath, pretending I did not care in the least if my favorite character might have been captured or worse, fatally wounded, in the mayhem that drove any particular week's story line.

Looking back, I suppose it could be considered to my credit that I'd bought in so thoroughly to that contract between viewer and show premise requiring the suspension of disbelief. It exerted such a strong unspoken hold upon me that I never really allowed myself to consider what would happen to story arc of the show if, for example, they did indeed let The Fugitive catch that one-armed man.While I am on the subject allow me to indulge my inner Old Biddy just for a moment. To all of you so swooney over Clooney and his endearing squinting up at you gaze first used to wide effect as Dr. Doug Ross on ER?

I will call your Clooney and raise you my childhood doctor-crush, the beleaguered Dr. Richard Kimble, played by ruggedly handsome David Janssen. That's right, I'm talking about The Fugitive, falsely accused murderer battling week to week to clear his reputation and bring justice to the one-armed man who had brutally killed his love and ruined his happy life.*Sigh*

What do girl crushes on serial television actors have to do with anything?

Bear with me. As I thought about what we would have for dinner tomorrow night, I realized it was time to attempt my own rerun, a do-over of my previously way-too-garlicky, too chunkily cucumbered, Tzatziki Sauce.

Oh all right...groan if you will...it IS a stretch. Go ahead. I'll wait. [.................] All finished? Feel better now? Great. Let's talk Tzatziki.

While super doses of Allium Sativum might seem just what the doctor ordered for a feeling of extra security while watching any of the vampire dominant shows available this summer, garlic can be quite the palate pummeler, rendering you incapable of tasting anything but. I wanted to try tzatziki again, this time without so much garlic to spoil the fun.My previous attempt had also been gently criticized for being too chunky. My definition of "finely chop" when it came to the cucumber, and what was the commonly held expectation of predominantly creamy smoothness in a Tzatziki sauce were at odds. I was determined to right those wrongs and bring the one-armed man to justice at las.... wait, no, where was I?

Ah yes. I wanted to try the delightfully seasoned lamb patties from the Butcher's case at Wheatsville again, this time with a more authentic Tzatziki sauce to serve alongside. A Tzatziki not plagued by garlic overload or too large bits of cuke. Off to the interweb I rode, to find another recipe to try.

And therein lies the rub, if not the sauce. There are as many versions of a Tzatziki sauce as there are television stars inspiring little girl crushes. [Results 1 - 10 of about 158,000 for tzatziki recipe] Some form of a creamy cucumber garlic yogurt sauce is served in so many different regional cuisines, you could go crazy trying to determine what would constitute an "authentic" version.

Unlike the locked down old school version of a summer rerun schedule, I had choices, way too many choices, about which direction to take the seasoning of the sauce.Mint? Which kind of mint? Oregano? Dill? Aaaargh!

What type of green bits did I want to add to elevate this concoction from garlic yogurt to that something more that is Tzatziki?

With so many different sets of directions to follow, there were way too many maps offered to choose much less chart a true course. After a bit of hand wringing over not finding that definitive recipe, I decided to abandon any quest for authenticity.

Tzatziki is a sauce that reflects the time and place and tastes of its maker. I felt liberated to prepare a sauce "to taste" and rightfully declare it my Tzatziki sauce.

I shortcut a day in the prep by using already drained and thickened Greek Yogurt as a base. I seeded and grated the cucumber this go-round. No more "not fine enough" chopping for me! I made a paste of part of one garlic clove, some oregano from the garden, and red wine vinegar with equal amounts of olive oil.

This last bit was inspired by a recipe coming from a young Greek woman who stated this was how her grandmother (and namesake) taught her to make Tzatziki. I had no-fat yogurt so figured the olive oil couldn't hurt. Many recipes call for the addition of lemon juice (except for those that don't!) so the acidity from the vinegar would not be so far fetched.

I may not know Tzatziki from tsathoggua, but I do know better than to mess with Greek grannies (knocks wood and throws salt preemptively over shoulder).

I ended up with a container that holds what looks like a perfectly respectable homage to Tzatziki. The elements in the sauce will spend the day and night together in the refrigerator, getting acquainted, so they can properly introduce each other tomorrow when they reappear beside the lamb patties. Whether or not the greatly reduced amount of garlic will stand in line politely with the rest of the flavors remains to be seen.It looks like Tzatziki sauce but how will it taste? Will the garlic insist on running the show? Will the cucumber bits be fine enough to please a studio audience? Tune in for the next episode of Austin Agrodolce when all will be revealed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Carnitas Tutorial - All Together Now

After having pressed you to make carnitas I thought I'd put the porcine particulars all in one place. Previously I had information all spread out in different posts across a span of several days and going back and forth between posts is annoying at best. There are recipes all over the place, and perhaps someday some test kitchen somewhere will try them all out and declare one "right" way to get carnitas on the table, but until then? Here is how easy it can be.
When I read in the comments section of some posts about how difficult it is for many people to source protein that meets a certain standard of animals being humanely raised and then slaughtered for market in a way that limits suffering, I am reminded every time of how very fortunate I am to live in Austin, home of Wheatsville Coop.

Wheatsville has two butchers on staff who really know their stuff. I spent quite a bit of time speaking with Bryan there the other day and expressed to him my gratitude for taking time to source a variety of proteins. This means I can purchase meat to eat that comes out of a system of ranching and processing running completely counter to the CAFO monsters our country's current agricultural policies allow. Bryan takes the time to locate and procure that protein so I can simply show up at the Wheatsville meat counter and have good choices to make. I want to underscore how important that is to me and how grateful I am to have Wheatsville as "my" store. If I want to have responsible producers out there I have to be willing to support them with my food dollars. Wheatsville, through the efforts of Bryan and others, makes that a real option for my family.

Carnitas, Agrodolce Style

Printable recipe here

Step 1: Get yourself 3-5 pounds of Niman Ranch pork roast. [If you aren't lucky enough to have a store that will get that for you, try ordering online.] I have been using bone-in shoulder roasts. I am under the impression if these were sliced a certain way it would produce blade chops. Sliced another way, it is just right for a braise.Step 2: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the meat into strips about 3 inches by 1 inch. Don't get too fussy about this part - you want uniform size so the meat will all be done at the same time. Leave the fat in there, you can take any fat solids that do not cook into the liquid out of the dish later when you shred the meat.Step 3: Salt and pepper the pork. Put the pork into a dutch oven with 1 cup of water, 2 bay leaves, the juice of one lime, the juice and skin of one orange (seeds removed), and a peeled halved onion. Bring this to a simmer stovetop, then cover and place into your preheated oven.Step 4: After an hour in the oven, turn the meat and continue cooking for one hour longer.Step 5: After the second hour, the pork should be tender, falling off the bone. Remove the meat to a bowl and take the bay leaves, orange, and onion from the pot. Bring the remaining liquid to a brisk boil until reduced to about one cup. At this point adjust the seasonings and add salt/pepper and other elements as you like to customize the liquid.After making the dish once with nothing added to the liquid, which produces a pork intense flavor we really liked, I did add a little heat in the form of chipotle sauce the second go-round.

Step 6: All that is left now is to shred the meat a bit, toss it in the reduced braising liquid, and broil it to crispy browned perfection.After a couple of tries, I got the best results by placing cooling racks on a foil lined cookie sheet. I then placed the drenched shredded meat atop the racks for the best crisping, and positioned the oven rack on the second rung down from the top before broiling at the highest heat setting. Do start checking the meat at 5 minutes. You want it browned, not overly charred.

Remove and serve with tortillas, and any/every other wonderful thing you think would make the best ever soft carnitas tacos.My go-to combination includes crema, arugula sprouts, cherokee purple tomatoes and caramelized onions.Other folks like their crema separately as a dip, after rolling a combination of cotija cheese, onions and meat.Once you get yours rolled, it matters not. What went inside and in what order is your little secret.There you have it. Carnitas for the conscientious omnivore. ¡Desfruta de tus Niman puerco, y'all!