Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tortas

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Torta

Have you ever had a torta? It’s basically all the best things about a traditional Mexican taco but in sandwich form, and with mayo (which means I’m going to be into it, don’t judge me). Tortas can be really simple, with just some carnitas or carne asada, onion, cilantro, jalapeños, and mayo. Or they can be these crazy mile-high amalgamations of breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one with things like beans, eggs, hot dogs, steak, cheese, avocado, salsa, pickled onions, ETC. It can be intense. I’ve loved every torta I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on, but if I have some freshly cooked pork butt on hand, this simple version is likely the first thing I’m making.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Torta

I don’t have easy access to a bakery that makes proper torta rolls (bolillos) so I just use a soft-ish sandwich bun and it works. My understanding of carnitas is basically that it’s crispy pulled pork. I’m sure experts will tell me there’s much more to it, but whatever, this is simple and it is delicious.

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Torta

 

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Tortas
makes two tortas

Ingredients:
about 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded pork butt (a.k.a. shoulder (prepared in the slow cooker like this))
1-2 Tbsp pork fat (from the slow cooker butt roast)
2 rolls – bolillos if you can find them and want to be authentic, brioche or kaiser if you aren’t up to that (I wasn’t)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 small clove garlic, grated or minced (or a pinch of garlic powder)
2-3 Tbsp finely diced white or yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
avocado
lime wedges
Cholula hot sauce

 

Method:

1. Make a slow cooker pork butt. It takes time (about 8 hours), but the rewards are incredible. Read about that here.

2. In a sauté pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp pork fat over medium heat. Split and toast your rolls in the fat and set aside.

3. In the same pan, still on medium, add the rest of the pork fat and pile in the shredded pork. Break it up if necessary to heat through, taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary, then spread the pork in an even layer over the pan and leave it for a about 5 minutes to get crispy.

4. While your pork is cooking, mix together mayo, cumin, and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

5. Dice your onion and mince your cilantro and combine. Slice an avocado and a few lime wedges.

6. Assemble your tortas with the split and toasted buns, a pile of crispy shredded pork, a generous dollop of cumin garlic mayo, a pile of onions and cilantro, some avocado slices, a squeeze of lime, and a few drops of Cholula. Eat.

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Easy Immersion-Blender Gazpacho with Almonds and Red Peppers

Easy Immersion-Blender Gazpacho with Almonds and Red Peppers

When you love soup as much as I do, you miss it in the summer. So, you gazpacho. The only problem with gazpacho is that if you do it wrong it tastes like eating a jar of salsa. When it’s good, however, it is it’s own distinct and delicious thing.

This version riffs on the Spanish flavors of romesco sauce (red peppers with almonds and garlic) and combines them with the tomatoey, cucumber-y freshness of gazpacho. I feel like the red peppers and almonds lend richness and sweetness to what can otherwise be an overly acidic dish. Top with avocado and a little sour cream, tear up some crusty bread, and you’re ready for a healthy, light lunch on a sunny patio. Make it with your immersion blender and your mixing bowl can double as your blending bowl and triple as your serving bowl. Fancy.

Easy Immersion-Blender Gazpacho with Almonds and Red Peppers

 

Easy Immersion Blender Gazpacho With Almonds and Red Peppers
serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 lb ripe summer tomatoes
1 12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
4 inch chunk cucumber
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2-3 tsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt (plus more, to taste)

for topping:
sliced green onion
chopped fresh parsley
diced avocado
sour cream
hot sauce
black pepper

Method:

1. Dice tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber and onion. Chop almonds and mince garlic. Put everything in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add paprika, red wine vinegar, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and salt.

3. Using your immersion blender, pulse and blend the chopped vegetables and seasonings until smooth. (OBVIOUSLY, a regular blender will also do the trick.)

4. Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate at least 20 minutes to let the flavors develop, and up to overnight. Before serving, taste the gazpacho and add extra salt, cayenne, or vinegar as necessary.

5. Serve topped with green onion, parsley, avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, and black pepper (or any combination).

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Slow-Cooked Butt (of Pork)

Slow-Cooker Pork Butt

Pork butt is the best pork for pulling. And pulled pork dishes are what summer is all about. Pulled pork barbecue, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork carnitas for nachos, if you know how to cook pork butt you open the door to a porcine wonderland of culinary possibilities.

Slow-Cooker Pork Butt

So these butts are technically shoulders, and they tend to be pretty big. I like to make my slow-cooker butts as neutral in flavor as possible because I always end up with so much more meat than can be consumed in one dinner, and pulled pork makes such a fantastic base for a lot of great meals.

In addition to an abundance of pulled pork for freezing and future meals, slow cooking a pork butt leaves you with a fair amount of pork fat and collagen-rich porky liquid for enhancing sauces, soups, or maybe a batch of baked beans. Oh, and the best part: butts are cheap. I got my 7 pounder for just under 12 dollars at my local supermarket, and I will easily get four meals out of it. Butts, man!

Slow-Cooker Pork Butt

 

Slow Cooker Summer Butt (of Pork)

Ingredients:
a pork butt (a.k.a. shoulder (4-8 pounds, depending on how much you want to make))
salt
sugar
optional: 2-3 tsp liquid smoke

Method:

1. Pat the pork butt dry with paper towels and score the fat side with a sharp knife.

2. Decide on a ratio of salt to sugar. I like 1:2 and can usually comfortably cover a 7-8 pound pork butt with 2 Tbsp salt to 4 Tbsp sugar. A 1:2 ratio of salt to sugar is not very sweet, so if you like a sweeter deal, up the ratio.

3. Cover the pork butt with the salt and sugar mix and set it in the slow cooker, fat side up. If you don’t use all the salt/sugar you made, that’s ok. Just coat the meat in a good layer of the seasoning and toss the rest. If you add more than the meat itself can hold on to, you’ll probably end up with over-salted and useless pork, which would be a waste. Add liquid smoke if you’re using it and cook on low for 7-9 hours or until the meat is falling apart and there is a substantial amount of liquid in the pot. Slow cooker temperature settings are not standardized, so it’s possible yours could take longer. If the meat is not super tender when you stick a fork in it, it needs more time.

4. Remove the ceramic crock from the slow cooker and run it under the broiler of your oven for a few minutes to crisp up the fat on top. If you have a torch, you could also use that to get the fat on top crispy.

5. Allow the meat to cool and tear it up (I like to use gloved hands for this, but forks will also do the trick). Pick through the meat and get rid of the bone, any weird connective tissue-y bits and un-crispy fat.

6. Divide up any meat you want to use immediately (for carnitas tortas perhaps? coming soon!) or put it in freezer containers, label it, and save it for later. Pour all the liquid from the pot into another container and allow the fat to separate to the top. You can save the fat for cooking, or toss it and use the collagen-rich pork cooking liquid to make beans or sauce or extra juicy barbecue.

 

  1. Tonight!!!

    Amy — 2016.08.30
    1. reply
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