I have to admit, I don’t cook very many Mexican dishes—but when I do, pork canitas is one of my favorites. Pork carnitas is slow cooked pork with lots of garlic, spices and citrus. It can be easily made on the stove top in a large pot or your dutch oven. After a few hours of cooking, you end up mounds of tender, juicy pork that fall apart with a fork. It’s full of flavor and perfect for tacos one night and a casserole the next.
I like to cook a pork roast about once a month. It’s easy to throw the ingredients in a pot on a Sunday and let it cook without a lot of fuss. The pork slowly simmers on the stove and I end up with enough for several meals (in our small family), plus more to freeze for another round of meals. It may sound like something that is difficult to do, but pork carnitas is actually very easy, and your family will be so happy with the delicious results.
Pork Carnitas Tacos are great to serve for Cinco De Mayo, in fact, I’ll be pulling my stash from my freezer just for the occasion. Serve your tacos with homemade pico de gallo and, some shredded cabbage and corn tortillas and you have yourself a delicious, authentic Mexican meal. Another delicious way to use this pork is for breakfast like in this roast pork eggs Benedict with cilantro hollandaise.
Btw…be on the lookout on your grocery store shelf for La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style Yellow Corn Tortillas. They are drastically better than the ones I’ve purchased before. They don’t fall apart, yet still have that delicious corn taste.
Using a dutch oven or any large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and add the oregano, cumin, onion and garlic. Saute for about 8 minutes, and then place the pork on top. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Add the jalapeno, bay leaves, lime juice and squeeze the orange juice into the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Uncover the pot and continue to cook on medium-low heat, at a vigorous simmer another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Skim the foam or fat off the top as it cooks. When the pork is tender and much of the liquid has evaporated, use 2 forks to pull the meat apart in the pot (you can leave big chunks at this point). Increase the heat to medium-high and cook another 20 minutes, letting the liquid evaporate and the meat caramelize and brown in the fat left in the pan.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaves. Shred the meat thoroughly and discard any large chunks of fat.
Picadillo is a Spanish dish made with ground meat and other ingredients. It’s popular in many Latin American countries, each having their own variation. Living in Miami, I grew up with Cuban picadillo. Cuban picadillo is a mixture of ground beef, onions, garlic, oregano, olives, raisins and a touch of tomato sauce. It’s a hefty meal, usually served with a big portion of black beans and rice, and some sweet plantains, or plantanos maduros.
I love the rich flavor of picadillo. It’s an easy, one-pot dish that feeds a whole family. I don’t love how heavy it is, almost completely lacking in vegetables. Instead, I make a healthier spinach picadillo, packed with spinach, green pepper, celery and peas. It’s loaded with flavor and something every member of the family will love—even the picky little ones. You can serve it with white or brown rice and even substitute the ground beef for turkey.
Feel free to play around with this recipe. It’s very forgiving and you can add or substitute your favorite ingredients. I’ve made it with ground turkey instead of ground beef and it’s just as good. Lately, I make it with grass-fed organic ground beef, which is lower in saturated fat and contains 2-3x the amount of Omega 3, CLA, beta-carotene and lutein than regular beef.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for spinach picadillo as much as we have. It’s one of the few dishes I make again and again and I’m so happy to finally share it with you on Love and Duck Fat!
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef. Chop up the beef with a spatula as it cooks, turning often. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Cook about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft but not brown.
Add the olives, olive juice, celery, bay leaf tomato sauce, raisins, white wine and broth to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes.
Uncover and increase heat to medium. Add lime juice and spinach. Cook for another 5-10 minutes uncovered or until mixture reduces to desired consistency. Stir and season to taste. Add peas just before serving. Remove bay leaf and serve with rice and an avocado salad.
I’m fortunate enough to live very close to one of Miami’s best seafood markets, Casablanca Sea Food. Every day, they have a variety of fresh caught, local fish and shrimp brought from small fishing boats. Located on the Miami River, they have a restaurant too, if you feel like stopping by. I am a regular there, picking up some of my favorites: yellowtail snapper, hogfish, stone crabs and octopus. I recently began eating corvina, also known as white sea bass. It’s a plentiful fish in this area, with a light, white meat that is perfect for ceviche. I can get a pound for under $10.00, which makes me wonder why I don’t make this ceviche recipe with cherry tomato and white fish more often!
Ceviche is one of those dishes you can adapt easily to fit your tastes. I like to make it with fresh avocado, crunchy corn or cherry tomatoes. You can use red, yellow or a combination of colorful tomatoes. However you make this recipe, it will be a hit. It’s incredibly easy to do and tastes as good as any expensive restaurant ceviche. If you don’t know already, the acidity in the lime juice cooks the fish. As soon as the fish touches the juice, you will see the color change to an opaque white. After an hour or so, the outside of the fish pieces are entirely white and it’s time to eat. Serve as an elegant appetizer in small glasses or tasting spoons — or if you are like me, grab a big bowl and dig in.
Combine all of the ingredients in a glass or ceramic dish. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir again; making sure the fish is in contact with the lime juice. Chill for another 30 minutes, up to several hours. Taste and season again with salt if needed. Spoon into martini glasses or serving spoons to serve as an appetizer.
I can’t remember the last time I made a cupcakes or muffins (though I make a few cakes every month), which is why I asked my sister and her husband to submit their recipe for gluten-free pumpkin cake muffins. I have been watching my sister, Amy from afar and am very proud of her. Amy was once a struggling waitress trying to work her way through college while battling weight issues. Now she’s a Nike model and Elite Beachbody fitness coach. As I write this, she is one of the top 20 coaches in the country, making a very good living by inspiring others. Go Amy! To read more about Amy, visit her blog.
So what does Amy eat when she wants something sweet? I was able to pull this yummy recipe from their hands. It’s a delicious gluten free muffin packed with fall flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon and maple syrup. Made with almond flour and almond butter, these are high in protein. We call them cake muffins because of their light texture and the delicious icing on top, making them a cross between a muffin and a cupcake. Whatever you call them, these are yummy enough — and healthy enough — to eat for breakfast or dessert!
For the muffins:
2 cups Almond Flour
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons maple almond butter (Justin’s)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup GHEE or butter
1/2 cup maple almond butter (or regular almond butter)
4 tablespoons almond milk
1 ½ cups granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the muffins:
Preheat oven to 350° F/180° C and line a muffin tin with cups.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until smooth. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.
Mix together all ingredients until smooth. Before icing your muffins, place into the refrigerator to chill.
I roast a chicken for my family about once a week, so it’s odd I haven’t posted a recipe yet. A lot of chicken recipes have come out of my kitchen, from jamming butter under the skin to basting and flipping every fifteen minutes. But who wants to spend all of that time and effort when you can get a yummy bird with just a few minutes of prep? That’s the beauty of roasting a chicken. It’s a simple, delicious meal with the bonus of leftovers.
It took me so long to post a roast chicken recipe because I was busy conducting my own little kitchen test. I found the top easy roast chicken recipes and tried each recipe several times. This has been going on for a few months now (much to the delight of my husband). Out of the ten recipes I tried, I chose my top five, listed below. These are all fantastic recipes, so you really can’t miss by choosing one to make your next family dinner.
I arranged this list in no particular order because they all are my favorite recipe for one reason or another. Read my notes about each recipe. At the bottom, you will find my combination of all of the recipes to get the most amazing chicken dinner ever, plus tips on roasting the perfect bird.
Thomas’ recipe stands apart. He rinses the chicken, pats it very dry, sprinkles the cavity with salt and pepper and trusses the bird. Next, he generously salts the outside of the bird and sprinkles with pepper. That’s it. No butter. No olive oil. No basting. The chicken cooks the entire time at 450 F/230 C. He beautifully describes how to carve and eat the chicken when it’s done.
I love this recipe for its simplicity, and it’s the recipe I use when I want to roast a chicken without vegetables. The chicken comes out juicy inside, with perfect skin. I have three warnings. Use a thermometer, truss the bird completely and pay attention to the size of your bird. I’ve had this recipe turn out both under-cooked and overcooked, so it’s not foolproof. Even so, I use this recipe often because it is the easiest roast chicken recipe you will find.
Martha first rinses her chicken, pats it dry, and then sprinkles it with salt and pepper. She stuffs the chicken with a lemon, smashed garlic cloves and thyme, and then spreads it with butter. The chicken cooks on top of onion slices at 425 F/ 220 C until done.
This is a great recipe, though slightly fussy. The process is described well including how to make a delicious pan sauce using the drippings. When I make it, I like to add more vegetables so it’s a complete meal in one pan. Fish out the smashed garlic cloves when the chicken is cooked and serve them with the bird.
Ina Garten’s roasted chicken recipe is at the top of most Google searches for roast chicken. She stuffs the chicken with thyme, lemon and garlic, brushes it with butter and sprinkles it with salt and pepper. It roasts on top of a mixture of onion, carrots and fennel. The chicken is roasted at 425 F/ 220 C for 1 ½ hours.
I tried this recipe several times and the chicken comes out perfect. Sometimes I use olive oil instead of the butter. If your chicken is the slightest bit cold, the butter hardens as you are trying to smear it around and it’s messy. The bird cooks up tender and juicy with a crispy skin (though not the crispiest of the five). The veggies cooked underneath are amazing. I use the vegetables I have available and they all come out delicious. Celery, cabbage, parsnips and other vegetables all work in this recipe.
What I like about Jamie’s recipe is how easy it is, plus it’s a complete meal. He doesn’t truss the chicken or even peel the vegetables. I like that he uses olive oil instead of butter, because it’s easier. You don’t end up with butter all over the place, and the taste is still just as good.
Jamie doesn’t describe how to make a pan gravy from the drippings. He also doesn’t serve the vegetables that are roasted with the chicken. That’s the best part!
Ree takes softened butter and mixes it with lemon zest, rosemary, salt and pepper. She smears the chicken with the butter mixture and stuffs it with lemon halves and rosemary sprigs. The chicken is roasted at 425 F/ 220 C until done.
This almost doesn’t qualify as easy, due to the whole butter schmear process, but it’s also not hard…and it’s delicious! The recipe is a fun read, too. When I make it, I truss the legs. That’s my only change. For some reason, I feel incomplete if the legs aren’t perfectly trussed, but that’s my own issue.
Soups to make with your chicken broth:
Heat oven to 425 F/ 220 C with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Allow the chicken to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. I don’t wash my chicken. You can, but it really serves no purpose and gets germs all over your sink. Remove the giblets and neck from the inside (save these for stock). Using paper towels, dry the chicken really well inside and out. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Roll the lemon on a counter top, pressing with your hand. Then prick with a knife. Place the lemon inside the chicken along with the fresh herbs.
Truss the chicken. Grab some butcher’s twine and tie the legs together, looping the sting around the tail bone. You can stop there or do a complete truss.
Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken. Sprinkle well with salt and fresh pepper. Set aside.
Arrange your onion, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic cloves in the bottom of the roasting pan. Toss with a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Insert the thermometer between the thigh and breast. Place in the oven. Now leave it alone. Don’t baste it, turn it or repeatedly open the oven door.
Cook the chicken for an hour, to an hour and a half, until the internal temperature hits 165 F / 74 C. Remove from the oven and move the chicken to a carving board. Allow the chicken to rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes before carving. Remove the vegetables from the pan and arrange on a serving platter.
Add ½ cup of water to the warm roasting pan and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Pour the pan juices into a small measuring cup. Let it settle, then spoon the fat off the top and discard. Add the pan juices, chicken stock and white wine to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half.
Add lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add some herbs if you like (tarragon or rosemary work well). Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
Do you have a favorite roast chicken recipe? Share it below!
The first time I ate Brussels sprouts that were really good was at a trendy restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard called The Federal, Food Drink and Provisions. It’s only a month later, and I’ve cooked them twice more at home, because they were that yummy.
The Federal is located in the recently designated historic district called, “MiMo,” short for Miami Modern Architecture. Located along the upper east side corridor of Biscayne Boulevard between 54th and 77th streets, this is an up-and-coming area for trendy shops and restaurants. Only a few years ago, this area was better-known for drug dealers and hookers, frequenting the seedy, modern-era motels. The motels now have a new coat of paint and (most) of the hookers are gone. Instead, there is a Farmer’s Market, and restaurants pop up faster than we can try them all.
South Pacific Motel Image: Historic Preservation Miami
The dinner at The Federal was a blur that night. We met another couple for an “adult” dinner with our tired baby in tow. I ended scarfing down what I could of a the prix fixe Miami Spice menu, in between wrangling a squirmy, screeching baby and sitting outside. The Federal isn’t a family-friendly restaurant. The restaurant only had one high chair and it was occupied. I’m not complaining. All restaurants don’t need to be baby-friendly. And I will return, sans baby, so I can actually enjoy the food. Apparently, we tried about ten dishes between the four of us, and nothing on the menu even looks familiar.
I do remember the Brussels sprouts. They were roasted in a molasses vinaigrette with pickled apples and onions. I remember them being almost black — or maybe it was just dark in the restaurant. I was on the fence about Brussels sprouts before, giving them a chance every year, but never really “loving” this cute little cabbage. Now, I’m in love.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 200° C
Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with pepper and half of the salt. Drizzle again with balsamic vinegar. Use your hands to toss until coated.
Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning 2 times during cooking. They should be nicely browned. Remove from the oven and lightly sprinkle with the remaining salt before serving.