Wednesday, April 11

Slow Cooked Carnitas (Roast Pork) with Two Fresh Salsas

The hubs and I just finished an incredible dinner. Our house smells like Chipotle - no, actually it smells BETTER than Chipotle. And coming from me (#1 fan) that is a high compliment! If you don't have a freakish allergy to garlic (my new problem), go there. I know you'll like it. They serve real food fresh, fast and made to order, all while keeping integrity in mind by using sustainably raised meats from great farmers and local produce when available. Chipotle rocks.

Okay, back to our dinner. Tonight I made a Carnitas-style pork roast from a boneless pork leg roast I got at the farmers' market. The pig it came from was raised on a farm literally right over the hill from our home. The pigs roam a 40 acre area and eat good feed plus all the grubs, worms and whatnot that they find in the wooded area they wander. I have to say, it was the best pork I've ever had! It is true: Happy animals make yummy meat. It feels great to support local farmers. Do you have a farmers' market where you live? Check out this website to find out: Local Harvest

mmm... carnitas...

This roast is super easy, I made it in my 6 quart slow cooker in six hours after just five minutes of prep. The meat cooks until it is fork tender and shreds easily, and you can use it for whatever you like. We made burrito bowls and they turned out delicious. Give this a try, it is really simple and the whole meal tastes like it took a lot more effort and time!

Paleo Note: We did eat Pinto beans with this (legumes = not Paleo) and obviously the dish is nightshade heavy with the tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles (nightshades are not allowed on Paleo Autoimmune Protocol) but Hubs and I decided to try it and see how it goes. I used to not be able to go a day without tomato salsa or spaghetti sauce, chile-based hot sauce, or both, and this was the first taste of legumes and salsa I've had since January. I'd say I've been doing great! :)

*UPDATE 3 days post-meal: I will make the pork roast again, as the flavor was fabulous and it couldn't have been easier. But the beans will be omitted, and probably the salsas as well. I've been having increasing enthesitis pain as the week goes on, and I am drawing a direct connection between this meal and my pain level! I'm not bummed; now I know to continue the way I was eating, as my gut is not healthy enough to eat those foods at this point. 
Have you ever had an experience re-introducing a food and learned from it? That's all we can do, right? Make a note of it and move forward :)

What you need:

for Carnitas Pork Roast-

1/2 pound or about 1 cup dried Pinto beans, soaked overnight (or longer, changing water at least once) and rinsed well

2.5-3 pound sustainably raised pork roast (I used a boneless leg roast. You could use an arm, shoulder or sirloin as well)
7 cups water or homemade chicken bone broth
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
1 TB salt
1/2 TB smoked paprika
1 TB cumin
1/2 TB oregano
1/2 TB crushed red pepper
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles or 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

for Pico de Gallo-
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 white onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Sea salt to taste

for Salsa Verde-
2 lbs tomatillos, husked, washed and quartered
3-4 medium jalapenos, washed, halved and seeded
2 cups minced onion
2 TB cilantro leaves
Sea salt to taste

What you do:

For Carnitas Pork Roast-
Put all ingredients into slow cooker insert. Start with the beans, then add pork, broth, onion, and so on.
Cover and set to "high" for 5 hours.
After 5 hours, check to see if beans are tender. If needed, put lid back on and continue to cook.
(I let it cook for 30 minutes longer, and then removed the lid and cooked for another 30 minutes. This was 6 total hours of cooking time.)
Remove the pork roast from the slow cooker to a plate, and let it cool for a bit. While it cools, strain the liquid out and pour the beans and onions into a serving bowl or storage container.
After the meat has cooled a bit, shred it into bite size pieces with two forks. Put into a serving bowl or storage container.

While the meat is still cooking, or after you've prepared it and set it aside, make your salsas.

For Pico de Gallo (recipe paraphrased from Carla Hall and Clinton Kelly on The Chew)-
Toss the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeno in a bowl until mixed well. Taste and add salt as needed (as little as 1/4 tsp was enough for us). Set aside.

For Salsa Verde (recipe paraphrased from Carla Hall and Clinton Kelly on The Chew)-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your ingredients (wash, seed, chop). Arrange tomatillo quarters and jalapeno halves in a glass baking dish and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice during roast time. You will know they are ready when tomatillos are tender and juices and seeds are visible in bottom of dish. Remove dish from oven and let cool- this is important because you'll be swirling them around at high speeds and don't want to cause burns!

Scoop roasted tomatillos and jalapenos from baking dish into food processor bowl. Add onion

and cilantro, securely attach the lid and start pulsing. Make sure all large chunks are processed, and pulse until it reaches a texture you like. Taste and add salt as needed (used 1 tsp here).

Now you have the components to make your burrito bowls- or perhaps a "taco salad!"

For burrito bowls, grab a plate and layer about one cup of shredded pork, half cup Pinto beans, Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde. That's it! To make a Fajita Burrito Bowl, saute sliced onion and bell pepper until crisp tender, and add to your plate before the salsas.

I know this doesn't look great. But in daylight it would photograph much better, and the taste is still fabulous!

 (Thanks to the slow cooker) this meal only takes one hour or less of actual preparation and cooking. And it is seriously on the same level as a fresh Tex-Mex restaurant quality Carnitas dish, but it's better because you know where all of your ingredients came from, and what quality they are. Which is important, because you are what you eat, and you are what your food eats ;)