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.
When I think of traditional Easter recipes; lamb always comes to mind. For some reason (most likely my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook), I envision a vintage 1950’s table setting with a perfectly roasted leg of lamb, a side of bright green mint jelly and a jiggling aspic. This Easter lamb shanks recipe is a great way to feature lamb without a lot of fuss.
A leg of lamb can be daunting…and expensive (and not very practical for a small family). Lamb shanks are a much more affordable option for Easter. Whether you have a large gathering this Easter or a small one, lamb shanks are easy to cook and come out of the oven fork-tender and delicious. I often see lamb shanks on sale at my local grocery store for a few dollars apiece, but I scored these for only a few cents more from a local organic & grass-fed farm co-op.
If you want a fancy presentation, you can spend some extra time frenching the lamb shanks. This involves removing the meat and fat from the bottom of the shank; exposing the bone so when the shanks are cooked, they look like a big drumstick. I don’t bother, though. They look just fine like they are.
This Easter lamb shanks recipe only takes about 15 minutes to prep. It cooks in the oven for several hours and creates its own flavorful sauce full of carrots, celery, onion and herbs. I like to serve it with saffron rice but it will work equally well with mashed or roasted potatoes.
I have to mention (with some disbelief) that this is my first lamb recipe on Love and Duck Fat. This blog will be a year old in 5 months, so it’s about time. I cook with lamb fairly regularly so expect to see a few more before the big anniversary.
Happy Easter! -Marni
Season lamb well with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet and add the olive oil. Sear lamb on medium-high heat until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the lamb from the skillet.Add the onions to the skillet. Cook and stir, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the lamb, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, broth and wine to the roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover loosely with foil and cook at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. for 3 hours, turning the meat once. Check during cooking to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan to ensure the shanks are halfway submerged. Add more water if needed.
To serve, remove shanks from the sauce. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper if necessary. You can use the sauce as-is (chunky) or puree with added broth to make a smoother consistency.
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.
You can make this pork tenderloin with Guinness glaze for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year. It’s a delicious dish for beer lovers. The Guinness glaze is sweet and savory, with a good hoppy bitterness added from reducing the Guinness to a thick syrup. The pork is tender and juicy. Served with a wedge of roasted cabbage and buttery parsley potatoes, this recipe is a fresh alternative to the old corned beef and cabbage.
Back in 2011, the USDA lowered the recommended safe cooking temperature of pork to 145 degrees instead of 160. This is important to know when cooking something as lean as a pork tenderloin. Over cooking produces a dry, chewy piece of pork—something I’m sure everyone has experienced. Cooked correctly, pork is juicy, pale pink and tender enough to cut with a fork.
If you love Guinness (or know someone who does) try cooking with it more often. It goes well in stews and soups, adding richness and color to the dish. With notes of coffee and chocolate, Guinness goes well in dessert recipes too. Don’t miss this recipe for Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey’s Irish Crème Anglaise or Guinness Ice Cream Floats.
Add the Guinness, apricot preserves, brown sugar and garlic to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes, until the sauce is reduced to a thick syrup, about 20 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Heat oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C.
Trim any silver skin from tenderloins with a small sharp knife. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Season tenderloins well on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pork and sear until browned on all sides, about 10-12 minutes.
Brush the tenderloin with the Guinness glaze and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook pork 10-15 minutes, basting once. Remove from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (63C). Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve the pork drizzled with more glaze.
Cauliflower has been called one of the trendiest vegetables of 2014. Epicurious magazine called it the vegetable of 2013, so I guess it’s having a good run of popularity. The only reason I know this is because I’m wrapped up in the great big food blogosphere and keep track of these things.
I can honestly say I eat more cauliflower now than I ever did (not to be trendy–I know how to cook it now). I eat it in soups, like this roasted cauliflower soup. Its great mashed or in curries too, but cauliflower is at its best simply roasted with a dusting of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. I like cutting it in great big slabs before throwing it in the oven. It’s easy to do and so addicting, I’ve been guilty of eating it with my fingers while standing in the kitchen.
You can serve roasted cauliflower as an easy side dish with just about anything. It’s a great substitute for starchy potatoes and pairs well with both seafood and red meats. It also makes a great main dish, especially thick-cut and served as a “steak”. The nutty/sweet flavor it acquires from roasting is completely different than the tasteless, limply-steamed versions served up in restaurants around the country. If you passed on cauliflower before, this recipe will make you a believer.
Preheat oven to 400° F/ 190° C
Wash and dry the cauliflower head. Using a large knife, slice through the entire cauliflower to make 1-inch thick slices. The ends will crumble into florets, but you should get 2-4 intact slices. Lay the slices and florets on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and optional spices. Turn cauliflower to coat in oil, seasoning both sides.
Place into preheated oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven when the cauliflower is browned and the stems are easily pierced with a fork.
With my spread out family, we often end up having three or four Christmas celebrations (especially now that a little one is in the mix). It’s a very rare year where we all sit down for one meal. This year, we have a pre-Christmas with my mother, who is visiting for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, we head up to my father’s house for another round of festivities. To follow it all up, we have a post-Christmas get-together with my husband’s side of the family. I have some pretty good cooks in my family, so there’s a lot to look forward to. Of course, I will be making my own contributions, since I’m the one with the food blog (lots of pressure there).
I’ve put together some of my favorite recipes for a delicious Christmas dinner inspiration menu. Most of these recipes come together quickly and easily, and I’ve included a bonus recipe for the ambitious cook.
For the ambitious: Chocolate pumpkin cake
A lot of these recipes can be made ahead of time. Keep in mind that many of these recipes (like the pork loin) will need to be doubled or tripled depending on how many guests you are serving. I’ll be available to answer any questions if you have them. From my family to yours, have a loving (and delicious) holiday!