Friday, February 1, 2013

Carnitas Tacos with Pineapple, Jalapenos, and Tomatillo Salsa

A few weeks ago I made carnitas in my slow cooker and froze the leftovers. Initially, I decided that the meat was definitely an ingredient rather than something to throw in a bowl with some cheese, lime, and pico de gallo.  There's a fantastic Mexican restaurant near me that serves amazing carnitas tacos with pineapple, pickled jalapenos, and habanero salsa. They're unbelievably addictive!  I've wanted to try and make something similar for a while. I decided to make a green salsa instead of attempting to use habaneros.  At the restaurant they pickle their own jalapenos.  To make this a quick meal, I bought a can of them instead.  Since this dish was made from leftovers, it was super fast.  All that needs to be done is defrost and warm up the meat, chop the pineapple, and make the salsa.

Tecate will always be "Hellboy Beer" to me. 

These tacos turned out fantastic!  The pineapple and jalapeno went really well together.  I used fresh pineapple so it didn't have the nasty syrupy sweetness of the canned stuff.  The store bought pickled jalapenos worked fine, the ones from the restaurant were hotter but I prefer the more mild ones. They don't take away from the flavor of the meat.  Each taco only needed a few spoonfuls of salsa to tie everything together.  The salsa is from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless. It has a slight kick from the chipotles but not enough to mask any of the other flavors. One thing I did differently from when I normally make this salsa is that I didn't add any water to thin it out.  I wanted it to stay as thick as possible so it wouldn't make the tortillas soggy. I think it went with the meat so well that I would make the same salsa again next time unless I decided to try to make a habanero salsa.

I used corn tortillas and warmed them in the microwave according to the package instructions and they still crumbled a little when I ate them.  This is a problem that plagues me whenever I use corn tortillas.  I have a feeling that if I switched to flour, this wouldn't happen.  But I like the taste of the corn ones and they're healthier.  Someday, I will find a way to stop them from falling apart.

Carnitas Tacos with Pineapple, Jalapenos, and Tomatillo Salsa
Serves 2 (or more, depending on how much leftover carnitas you have)

Carnitas, preferably leftovers (see recipe below)
Fresh pineapple, cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
Juice from 1/2 lime
Small jar or can of pickled jalapenos
Tomatillo Salsa (see recipe below, consider halving the recipe if only making this for 2 or 3 people)

1) Defrost and warm the leftover carnitas.  I did it in the microwave. 

2) While the meat is defrosting, place the pineapple in a bowl and mix with lime juice.

3) Warm the corn tortillas according to the package or by any other method that will keep the damn things from falling apart. 

4) Place the tortillas on a plate and top with carnitas, pineapple, and jalapenos.  Add a few spoonfuls of salsa to each taco and serve!

Tomatillo Salsa
Makes more than enough for 2 people
from Mexican Everyday

4 oz tomatillos (about 2 large ones)
1 large or 2 normal garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 chipotle en adobo, seeded (or add an extra if you want more smoke and spice) (this comes in cans, they'll keep in tupperware for a while after you open them)

1)  Cut the tomatilloes in half.   In a small pan, heat the unpeeled garlic cloves and tomatilloes over high heat.  Cook the tomatilloes for 3 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other.  Turn the garlic over a few times.

2) Peel the garlic and add the tomatilloes, chipotle en adobo, and garlic to the blender and blend until pureed.

Pork Carnitas
From Food Network
Makes ~ 4 lbs of carnitas

4 lbs boneless pork shoulder (or a little more if the meat is bone-in)
Lots of salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp Mexican oregano (regular is ok)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, cut in half and juiced (keep the halves)

1) Rinse and dry the pork shoulder.  Salt and pepper liberally.  I mean a lot.  If you think you've done too much that's probably about right.  Mix the cumin, oregano, and olive oil and rub it all over the pork.  I did both of these things with the pork already inside the slow cooker.

2) Top meat with onion, garlic, and jalapeno.  Pour the orange juice over everything and then place the orange halves on top, cut sides down.

3) Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or for 8 to 10 hours on low.

4) Remove meat from slow cooker and let it cool a little.  Then pull it apart and serve in a manner of your choosing.

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