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.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

¡Carnitas! Finally we EAT

Last night we celebrated and we had a lot to be happy about.  First and foremost we celebrated ChefSon's birthday. He turns mumblety on Mother's Day this year and I was thinking back to how far we have all come since that first Mother's Day cough! decades ago which was actually the day we first brought him home from the hospital.

We lived in Salt Lake City then and I remember sitting in the car, one hand on that precious car seat, looking around (when I could tear my eyes off this most beautiful baby in the universe) at people taking Mom/G'mom out to brunch etc. wondering how they could possibly be going about their normal lives in light of the earth shattering event we'd just been privy to. We'd just had our first child! Didn't they get it?

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  A hundred or so dirty diapers and sleepless nights later I began to understand a little better how yes, yes, maybe they did get it after all. Having a baby is that big and that little. 

The birth of a child absolutely changes the universe for the folks immediately involved and yet the rest of the world keeps right on turning. Which is why we need to be aware of who we are and how we live, all the time. We want to be keeping this world in respectable shape so when any Mommy brings another World's Most Special Baby into it, we can all be happy about our mutual prospects.Back to last night. We were also celebrating Cinco de Mayo:Swine Revenge. This was the night we prepared and ate Carnitas. 

Faithful readers, these were not just good - they were freaking aaaaaawesome. 

Porky goodness plus. All the recipe notes were right - you can make them day of, braise ahead and broil later, it matters not. Next go-round I might get adventuresome adding a few herbs or spices to the mix but maybe not. The Niman pork was just so very PORKY and that was why we were there. To celebrate the Swine Divine.
I cranked my broiler up to the "smelt" setting, moved the rack to the next to the top position, and started checking the shredded, reduced braising sauce covered pork at about 3 minutes. It took about 4-5 minutes over all but I'd advise you to watch it carefully. This one step of the recipe deserves your full attention.

We had the carnitas Self-Assembly Style. I offered a choice of flour and corn tortillas (most of us double layered one inside the other), arugula, crumbled queso fresco, caramelized onions, guacamole and some chipotle salsa (a blended type) from the Wheatsville Deli folk.

I'd prepped about 2 pounds of pork butt for the 3 of us and we had enough left for maybe 1 more serving. Save-the-world impulses aside, it was hard to resist throwing a LOT of that pork into each taco, it tasted that good. Self conscious types loading their tacos in front of witnesses might pile them a little more lightly thereby stretching how far the meat would go. When it comes to Us eating in front of other family members? Fuggedaboudit.

There's no shortage of places to read up on carnitas recipe experiences. Here is a smattering gathered just for you - all of them from cooking/food blogs I believe deserve your ongoing attention:
I used a version of this for our carnitas....the recipe from Cooks Illustrated
Eggs on Sunday
The Bitten Word
Diana Kennedy Adaptation courtesy of the Homesick Texan
A Crockpot Version courtesy of Married with Dinner

Housekeeping:  The strawberry/loquat jam seems to have set.  Mostly.  There are typically a couple of jars in each batch that seem to take a little longer than the rest. Maybe the last group I put in the hot water bath are the ones not quite there- again I am mostly clueless as to the "whys" I can only share the "whats" with you.

We haven't finished all the loquat jam from last year yet.  I made three batches and was hesitant to give it away until we'd survived eating it and uniformly agreed it was "good".  We did, and it was, but by then we were well past most traditional gifting opps so I have two or three jars on the shelf.  Note that I am not complaining.  

I only made one batch of the strawberry-loquat jam. It is in small jars so it looks like more. I discovered mid-prep last year only the leetlest jars will be covered by the boiling water as recommended by the canning instructions when I use the stock pot I have on hand. So far I have resisted buying any special equipment for canning.  Again, after we have eaten some, survived that, and pronounced it "good" I will share.  

Today is the first day this week I have no major plans for canning or cooking or shopping or celebrating or yard work.  This has been a Big Busy Week for me which is to say it was like most other people's normally hectic lives.  

I have made a lot of alterations in the way I conduct my life over the past few years, beginning with retiring from the "works outside the home too many hours a week" milieu several years ago, followed by retiring from the "behaves as if she is single handedly responsible for the advancement of every cause she supports" milieu just this past year.  

It has been different and at times difficult to separate my sense of "who I am" from "what I do". I think I am mostly "there" now, wherever there is.  Honestly, I am not finding a lot of company on this Isle of Non-Doing.  It is quiet here however, and I appreciate that more and more.

I hope you are having a lovely week however that plays out in your life.  Do try the carnitas when you can.  My only regret is that I went so very many years without having carnitas in my repertoire.  

Do have a Happy Mother's Day however you wish that to play out.  If you do not have celebrating Mother's Day on your personal calendar, then I hope you will simply have a lovely day in your own way.  

And please, whether it takes the form of jam, or a hug and a smile, do remember to share, won't you?  Thanks.  That is all!

1 comment:

Paige Orloff said...

This post makes me salivate with jealousy, if such a thing is possible. Carnitas? Strawberry-loquat jam? Good god, woman, you are living the dream. At least, my dream ;-) So glad your visit to thesisterproject led me to you--great blog, and I'll be back to read more!