Sunday, January 19, 2014

Latin Yum-Yums

Don't mind the sazon stains.
A few weeks ago I was bragging on Facebook about this awesome dinner I made featuring a carnitas recipe I found on Pinterest and Puerto Rican-style rice, and a bunch of people started hounding me for the recipes. So I'll share them with you all here.

The rice is part of a recipe the Big Guy got from a lady he worked with when we lived in Orlando, Florida. Liz was half Puerto Rican and half Polish. Her cooking could get interesting, to say the least. But this was one of her Latin favorites. The Big Guy fell for this recipe when Liz brought some to work and shared with him. He told her his Midwestern white-bread wife needed to learn to make stuff like that, so she wrote down the recipe for me. It's a little sketchy on details (but I'm learning all the best recipes are), so I'm sharing it here with my modifications made through trial and error. You can see in the photo it's been well-loved (and a little splattered-upon).

Chicken Wings & Yellow Rice

1/2 cup (or less) cooking oil
2 packets Goya Sazon con Azafran (yellow packet)
2 large serving spoons full tomato sauce
1 Tbsp salt (or to taste)
dash of oregano
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp sugar
12 chicken wings/drumettes
2 cups long-grain rice
2 cups water

In a dutch oven or medium stock pot, combine first 7 ingredients and wings. Saute wings until lightly browned. Add rice and water and stir together, making sure you can see the rice under the surface of the water. Boiling uncovered on high, let the rice "dry," stirring occasionally. When water is pretty much all absorbed, turn heat down to low, stir rice up into a mound, cover with aluminum foil and place lid on pot. Cook for about 30 minutes on low. After 30 minutes, stir - scraping all the burnt rice up off the bottom of the pot. (Hint: You're going to want a wooden spoon or metal spatula for this part. It really does get burnt and stuck on down there.) Check to see if rice is tender. Turn off heat, cover the pot, and let sit for another 10 minutes. Stir and serve.

Homemade pressure cooker? Sure, why not?

**To make rice only, reduce cooking oil to 1/8-1/4 cup and omit chicken wings.**

I can hear you now..."BURNT rice??" Yes, burnt rice. I freaked out the first time I made it, until the Big Guy told me to calm the hell down. That's what it's supposed to be like. I didn't believe him...until I took my first bite. In the middle of all my perfectly cooked rice were these little bits of crunchy grains that EXPLODED with flavor. It was so amazing. Black beans pair really nicely with this rice.

The carnitas recipe is based on a couple different recipes I found on Pinterest, but mainly the version found on My Kitchen Escapades. Here's my adaptation and a little meat porn.


Pork Carnitas
(adapted from My Kitchen Escapades)

8 lb bone-in pork butt (trimmed and cut into 2" cubes) (Could also use a 4 lb boneless butt, trimmed and cubed)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 C water
1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Adjust oven rack down to lower-middle position and preheat to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large, oven-safe Dutch oven, including orange juice and spent orange halves. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Cover and place in preheated oven. Cook 2-3 hours, or until meat falls apart easily when tested with a fork. (Mine took a full 3 hours.)

Remove pot from oven, move oven rack up to middle position and turn oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from the pan and place on a large, foil-lined jelly roll pan. Remove and discard everything else from the cooking liquid and place pot over high heat. Cook liquid down until thick and syrupy, about 20-30 minutes. There should only be about 1 cup of liquid left when you're finished.

In the meantime, break chunks of meat up using two forks. Pull each large cube of meat into about three pieces and discard any hunks of fat or gristle that didn't break down during cooking. Once liquid is reduced, gently stir meat into liquid, trying not to break up the meat any further. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Return pork and liquid to baking sheet and spread meat out evenly in a single layer. Broil until meat is well-browned and slightly crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn meat over and broil on other side until well-browned and crispy, about 5-8 more minutes. Serve on tortillas with your favorite toppings.

We used corn tortillas, lightly toasted in a skillet, and topped them with a little bit of queso quesadilla cheese (TRY IT! Sooo much more flavor than jack cheese or Mexican blend!), chopped romaine lettuce, sour cream and sliced onion. You could also add some cilantro - or use it instead of lettuce - if that's your thing. I, personally, hate cilantro, so we did not use it.

The queso quesadilla cheese was so delicious, we also sprinkled some over the top of our rice. You can never have enough cheese. Cheese is good. Cheese makes everything better. Here was the finished result:

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