Monthly Archives: October 2013



I make Carnitas about once a month. It’s a great way to serve a large group on a budget or you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator and make tacos all week. If eating tacos more than once or twice in a week seems a little dull, try adding carnitas to  Chilaquiles or make Carnitas Hash for brunch. Or you can try my most recent invention, Carnitas Bánh Mì.  A delicious Vietnamese style sandwich made with leftover carnitas in place of the traditional barbecued pork. I serve it on a soft, toasted French roll with carrot-cilantro slaw, jalapenos and Sriracha.

But first, get ready because this Sunday we’re having a taco party!


In this recipe we are going to braise the pork first with the top on for about 3 hours until tender and falling of the bone. After removing the bone we are going to take the top off, simmer the pork on high and reduce the liquid until it has all evaporated. Once the liquid has reduced down we will fry the pork in it’s own fat and juices to make a crispy outer layer for our juicy carnitas.

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: Approximately 3 hours 45 minutes

  • 4 to 5 pound bone in pork shouldercarn
  • 12 ounces beer (dark beer is best like Negro Modelo but if you have Bud in the fridge go ahead and use it)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups water divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  1. Mix salt, cumin and pepper to make a spice rub
  2. Rub spice mixture all over the pork and let it sit while you prepare your garlic and onions
  3. Place pork, fat side down in a large heavy bottomed pot. I used a 5 quart Le Creuset.
  4. Add garlic and onions to the pot then add beer, stock and 2 cups water. You want your liquid to come just short of covering the pork. Leave about 2 inches of meat exposed.
  5. Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on low. You will need to adjust the heat a little in order to keep the pork at a simmer. You want a consistent simmer for about 3 hours with the lid on.
  6. About every 30 minutes or so turn the pork for even cooking. You may need to add some water if too much steam is escaping or if your heat got a little too high at some point. If the liquid looks low add your remaining cup of water to the pot. Make sure you bring the liquid back to a simmer.
  7. When the meat is getting really tender and the bone easily pulls away from the meat, take the pork out and remove the bone. Cut the meat into a few large chunks before returning it to the pot. You will see a lot of fat on the meat at this point. Don’t remove it. You need it for the next step in this recipe and it will keep the carnitas moist and delicious.
  8. 4tacosPut the boneless meat back into the pot and simmer with the top on for about 15 minutes
  9. After 15 minutes, take the top off and turn the heat to high. This stage can be a little nerve wracking the first time because you are going to let the meat simmer on high with the top off for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost disappeared.
  10. When the liquid is getting low, you can break up the pork and shred it using two forks or  tongs. Most of the onion and garlic will have broken down at this point and sort of melted into the meat adding extra flavor so don’t bother fishing them out.
  11. Now that all your liquid has evaporated you can do one of two things. If you’re cooking for a big party and the meat is going to be served right away, continue to cook  the meat on high and fry the pork in its own fat to get the crispy bits. If you want to keep some leftovers the thing to do at this point is stop the cooking after the liquid has evaporated and crisp up as much as you want to use in a separate pan. Then you can store the rest of the pork in the refrigerator until you’re ready for tacos again. Either way, a crisp, brown outer layer is what you are going for. Don’t fry the meat too long or it will be dry. 1-2 minutes of frying on high should be fine.

Leftover Carnitas? Check out this recipe for Carnitas Bánh Mì with Carrot-Cilantro Slaw

For the Slaw:carrotslaw

If you have time let the salad sit in the fridge overnight to let the carrots pickle a little.

  • 10 ounce bag of shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, and vinegar to make a vinaigrette.  Toss with remaining ingredients and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

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For the sandwich:

  1. Toast and butter a soft French roll.
  2. Crisp up  carnitas in a hot pan
  3. Top your roll with carnitas and carrot slaw
  4. Add Sriracha and jalapenos to taste





Fried Chicken and Radicchio Slaw

friedchicken2I think Fried Chicken is quite possibly the ultimate Sunday dinner. It’s the kind of dish that is delicious on it’s own but is usually served with lots of good sides like mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits or anything with flour in it basically. Except of course for the coleslaw which I will be getting to shortly.

As much as I love fried chicken It isn’t a dish I make often and it hasn’t really turned out that great in the past. There are probably thousands of fried chicken recipes on the internet with lots of tips on how to get the best fried chicken.  Some tips I have found to be useful and others not so much. After lots of research and many failed attempts I have finally created what I think is a fool proof recipe.

There are a few steps that are essential for good fried chicken. The first step is marinating the chicken for 24 hours. If you want to make fried chicken you need to plan ahead and let the chicken marinate for a day. It really does make a difference.

The next step is the batter. There is a lot of talk about the double dip. Dipping in flour then back in the buttermilk and flour again. I actually find this method to make the chicken too crunchy. I have found if you flour your chicken and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes then pat it well with flour again and let it sit for another 30 minutes the crust comes out crispy not crunchy.

The last thing I do is let the chicken rest on a rack for 20-30 minutes after cooking. All the juices and oil settle and the chicken will be moist and flavorful.

For this recipe I used 4 thighs and 4 legs. You can also use a whole chicken cut up in 8 pieces.friedchicken1

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 Chicken legs
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • Lots of black pepper (I like peppery chicken but add to your taste)
  1. Put all ingredients in blender except the onion and blend until smooth. Poor over Chicken
  2. Slice onion and add to the chicken.
  3. Chill for 24 hours

Seasoned Flour

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Lots of black pepper
  • 4 cups peanut oil for frying (you want about 1 inch of oil in the pan. You can use a deep heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven. Avoid really deep pots. You will need to be able to check and turn your chicken easily with tongs
  1. Whisk the flour and spices to combine
  2. Put the flour in a brown paper bag large enough for the 8 pieces of chicken
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and shake off the excess milk before dropping in the flour
  4. Give the bag a really good shake to coat your chicken. Take a peak inside and make sure they’re getting well covered. I also use my hands and really pat the chicken with the flour
  5. Put the chicken pieces in the refrigerator for one hour. Make sure to separate the chicken. Don’t just pile it up on a plate. The chicken needs a little room to create a nice crust.
  6. After the chicken has been in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes pull it out and pat it with the flour again. You don’t need to go through shaking the bag again just turn them in the flour and make sure the chicken is well covered.
  7. When you’re ready to fry heat your oil to 350 degrees. You can get a thermometer at most grocery stores these days and definitely a restaurant supply store.
  8. Place chicken in heated oil skin side down
  9. Cook the chicken on one side for about 7-8 minutes. 10-12 for breast. You do need to keep an eye on it to make sure the chicken browns evenly.
  10. Turn chicken over and cook for another 7-8 minutes
  11. Place chicken on a rack and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving


You can make your slaw.  This recipe is really about the dressing. I use it for broccolli slaw or cabbage and it makes a great dressing for potato salad. I’m using radicchio in this post because I had it and it’s so pretty.

  • slawfavI cup mayonnaise ( I use Best Food’s because well it’s the best. If you use another brand that’s fine but don’t use a mayonnaise made with safflower oil. It has a very strong taste and doesn’t work well with this dressing. Or any dressing really.
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • juice of two lemons
  • I jalapeño seeded (or not seeded if you want more heat)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4 green onions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor except onions. Blend until very smooth.
  2. Clean and chop green onions and using only the white and light green part, toss with radicchio and dressing.

As I mentioned earlier this dressing is really good for potato salad. Especially red potatoes. Just add this dressing and green onions to your cooked potatoes and mash.


Leftover chicken?

Fortunately you have all the ingredients for a fried chicken sandwich!



Toast and butter a hamburger bun then top with chicken and radicchio slaw.


Rigatoni with Pumpkin Cream Sauce, Sweet Italian Sausage, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Sage

pumpkinfave1It’s that time of year again when pumpkin seems to be the star ingredient in many recipes. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, even pumpkin tempura. To be honest by November I’m a little pumpkined out. But this recipe is something I look forward to every year. It is a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving or in this case a fall Sunday dinner. The earthiness of the toasted walnuts and fresh sage combined with a hint of spice from the nutmeg and sausage are perfect with the sweet pumpkin and cream. This Sunday we’re celebrating fall with my favorite pumpkin dish.

sage1Rigatoni With Pumpkin Cream Sauce, Sweet Italian Sausage, Toasted Walnuts and Fresh Sage

  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts bashed up
  • 5 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. pastaplate2Brown hot and mild sausage in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Drain fat leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Alternatively drain all fat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set sausage aside.
  2. Sauté shallot until soft not brown.
  3. Add white wine and reduce by half. About three minutes.
  4. Whisk in pumpkin and chicken stock then simmer for about five minutes. You may need to add more stock which is why the recipe calls for 1/2-1 cup stock. You are going for something similar to a Bolognese once you add the sausage. Start with 1/2 cup of stock and gradually add more if the pumpkin sauce looks too thick.
  5. Whisk in cream, then nutmeg, walnuts and sage one at a time. You can season the sauce with salt at this point. Don’t be too heavy handed as sausage tends to be pretty salty. About 1 teaspoon should be plenty. I don’t add pepper because again I think the sausage is peppery enough.
  6. Add sausage and warm through.
  7. Rigatoni is perfect for this sauce. Prepare pasta according to package. Toss a small amount of sauce to coat pasta before serving then add more sauce on top. Sprinkle with more walnuts and sage if desired.

Happy Fall!