Soft Tacos with Pork Carnitas

Record the day. I almost followed a recipe exactly. I did, however, begin with a different cut of meat… This is from the most recent issue of Cooking Light. I have to say I stopped my subscription because I got tired of all the non-cooking stuff in there. I don’t want to read about exercise, vitamin supplements, restaurants, travel, and most especially make-up. I want to read recipes. I love their “technique” section and the section where they “lighten up” readers’ favorite recipes is always fun. Really though, the “light” here is not very light. It’s “average,” aiming for the USDA dietary guidelines of 30% fat I think. But most of the recipes are quite good. I just wish there were more of them. I might subscribe again. This issue caught my eye because I just bought myself a pizza stone and they had pizza on the cover. So of course I make pork carnitas instead.

This is a two day recipe. You cook up the pork, then refrigerate, then heat and reduce the sauce and turn the carnitas into whatever you’re doing with it. They had both a beef and a pork carnitas recipe, and then three things to do with each of them, from beef carnita empanadas to pork stew. I turned my carnitas into soft tacos basically. They were excellent. It fed 3 of us tonight, I froze half of what was left and will maybe make the pork stew with the rest later this week.

The meat difference. They called for boneless Boston butt pork roast. All I could find at the store for a reasonable price was a pork shoulder roast. Is that at all the same? I think my cut was leaner, because there was almost zero fat to skim off the next day. It tasted great and for $1.79 a pound I’ve got 3 meals for 3 people out of a $4 piece of meat, or less. There were actually two roasts in the package for $7 and I froze one for another day.

Oh, the tomato paste. Don’t you hate recipes that call for a tablespoon or two of tomato paste? You can buy it in a tube, if you use it somewhat regularly. Or open a small can, use what you need, then plop tablespoonfuls of it into a bag, keeping them separated, and freeze. Or plop them down on a piece of wax paper and freeze, then bag. Then you can open the bag and pull out what you need for the next recipe. I have one section in my freezer door that holds stuff like this: a bag of tomato paste spoonfuls, a bag of chopped onions (why bother chopping half an onion?), lemon juice ice cubes, lemon zest, various herbs, chopped peppers, nuts, etc. All those little bits of stuff you hate to throw away but will easily lose if you don’t keep an eye on them in the freezer. I throw them in sandwich bags and keep them all together.

2 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
10 garlic cloves, peeled (I might have used more, I like garlic)
2 to 2 1/2 pounds sirloin pork roast or Boston butt pork roast
1 cup chicken broth (I used turkey because that’s what I found first in the freezer)
1 Tbs lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a Dutch oven or oven proof skillet, mix together the tomato paste, salt, pepper, garlic cloves, and pork, then pour the broth over all and stir some more. Cover and put in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the pork is very tender.

Cool and refrigerate overnight, then skim any solidified fat off. I didn’t actually have any with the sirloin roast I used. Let the pork sit out for 30 minutes to get up to room temperature, then cook in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until most of the liquid is evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

I served this on corn tortillas, with fresh salsa, chopped avocado, and a bit of shredded Cheddar cheese, with refried beans on the side. I think it would also be good if you took some of it and heated it with green salsa. that tomatilla stuff I love so much, making it into a pork verde of sorts.

If I end up trying the Pork Stew with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes, which is in the same issue, I’ll let you know. It’s not quite cool enough to think about stews somehow. Maybe I’ll do that later with the batch in the freezer. I just heated up white corn tortillas tonight for soft tacos and it was fantastic!

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