I threw a party for a friend leaving Los Angeles for South Carolina. I gave him a choice from my cheap$kate repertoire of recipes, and he chose tender, slow-cooked, pork Carnitas Tacos. So, where he's going, that makes sense - good Mexican food is few and far between, there. And I have to modestly say that my Carnitas recipe is one of my best.
I also made pinto beans, Mexican rice, calabasitas, plus fresh red chile and green tomatillo salsas. The party and food was a hit. One of my guest, Ellen Bloom, is a talented local blogger and she wrote all about it - just click here.
Carnitas is a one pot meal (plus a frying pan to chrisp it up) of slow-braised pork shoulder cooked in Mexican cola, orange and lemon juice, onion, garlic, with bay leaf and dried oregano. Once the liquid starts to simmer, just walk away for a few hours until the pork is fall-apart tender. Simple to do and so succulent - it's my favorite protein from a taco truck or taqueria. My recipe, with a video, is a click away, here.
Pork shoulder is the cheapest pork, so I use it often. It's especially cheap at Latin markets, like these.
I could have stopped at Carnitas Tacos, but for a party you gotta have some variety, so I added beans and rice.
Put a pot of beans on and the kitchen will draw guest, from the tantalizing smell of my slow cooked beans recipe (click here.) The recipe link is for Black-eyed Peas, but it simple enough to substitute pinto beans; you just need to cook them an hour or two more to fully tenderize. (Black-eyed peas cook quicker than pinto beans.) For a vegetarian bean recipe (that uses red beans, so the cooking time is about the same) read my recipe and watch the video, here.
I used my Mom's recipe, here, for Mexican Rice. Plus I made a trio of salsas: chunky Pico de Gallo, Red Chile, and a green Roasted Tomatillo. Click on any salsa name to see the recipes.
I finally made a veggie stew called Calabsitas (click here) with squash, corn, onion, zucchini, tomato and Mexican cheese. I went down so well that very little was left over.
It was too much of a delicious party and I had plenty of leftovers. So after a few days of Carnitas Tacos, to change it up, I started making Carnitas Bowls.
I first chop up some tomato, onion and cilantro. I had some extra cheese so i shredded a little bit. I took out some of my homemade Tomatillo Salsa, too.
In a large bowl I added the leftovers that needed microwaving: beans, rice and carnitas. I stored the carnitas with some of the marinade it was cooked in, so the meat stayed moist when heated.
The heated sauce also flavored the Mexican rice - so if you make my Carnitas recipe make sure to reserve plenty of flavorful cooked marinade.
After microwaving, for final assembly, I first added the cheese so it would soften from the heat. Next, I topped the bowl with the chopped tomato, onion and cilantro. And finally I spooned on some salsa.
It was so good. Over the next couple of days, the Carnitas Bowls lost a few ingredients as they were used up. But that's okay, each bowl was unique and all of them were delish.
My Carnitas Bowl is adaptable so make it your own. Add as much of the particular ingredients you like to balance the flavors in your favor.
Do try out my carnitas, beans and rice recipes and throw your own taco party. And make plenty so you can have leftovers to reward yourself with a tasty Carnitas Bowl.