Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Carnitas are traditionally slowly fried in a large copper pot filled with (delicious) lard. Since most of us don't have access to such a huge amount of lard, a large copper pot, and the courage to sit around and stir a gigantic pot full of super hot lard, this is my version of Carnitas that you can cook right on your stove top.

When you make Carnitas the traditional way, you end up with chunks of meat that are fried on the outside, yet moist and juicy on the inside. This happens because you start frying them in lard at low heat, which prevents the juices of the meat from escaping, and only until the end do you turn up the heat to crisp the outside. You simply cannot mimic this technique by just slow roasting and have the same end results. What I have done with this recipe is to slow cook the pork in a broth (or braise) that will continuously add flavor and liquid during the cooking process, but also, I save the cooking liquid and add it at the end to add even more flavor and moisture. When you braise such a large piece of pork, you will not end up with any crispness. So, after the pork has been braising for hours, and you can pull the meat off the bones, I shred it and fry it in a pan with oil until some of the pork has crisped up to a golden brown.

I will flat out tell you that these are not like the Carnitas that I grew up with, but they are dammed tasty and come close to the ones my uncles used to make when I was a kid.

Serves 6-8


1 (4lb) pork shoulder roast
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs garlic powder
2 bay leaves
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 orange (cut in half)


Mix together salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Coat pork with the mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker or large pot and place the pork on top. Add the orange. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 7 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 3.5 hours.

When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks.

 In a skillet, heat a table spoon of oil. Add the shredded pork to the oil and cook until the strips are lightly browned on the ends. Place all of the browned meat in a separate dish and use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Papacitos!

999 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222

No, I'm not starting a new phase in my life where I'm going to start harassing men on the street and calling them "Papacitos!" Although, it's always been a fantasy of mine for the roles to be reversed and see how men like being cat-called. I kid. Papacitos isn't just something you call a hot piece-of-man, it's also a Mexican restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

I'm noticing a trend in Greenpoint of really great Mexican restaurants (Calexico being another one of them). I heard that there are crazy levels of radiation in Greenpoint and maybe it's creating radiation-induced Superchefs? Ok, obviously not, but this is only adding to the jealousy I feel towards all of you Greenpointiacs (is what I calls ya) and your awesome neighborhood. Luckily, the gringo and I have really awesome friends that live in Greenpoint and visit them on a weekly basis. Our visits usually include us eating wings at The Habitat and eating way too much to the point that we no longer know the feeling of shame. Well, this last visit, we decided to give another restaurant a try. I'd heard so many great things about Papacitos, so I was really excited to finally give them a try. Although I would rather be giving you a review about my visit to the restaurant, this time all I can give you is the scoop on their delivery, which I think can be equally as important. I ordered a carne asada taco, a green chile burrito, and the gringo ordered a chorizo taco and chicken quesadilla. The food was moderately priced , $5 for two tacos, $9 for a burrito, and $9 for the quesadilla. I honestly can't say if the delivery was fast or not, it FELT like it came quickly, but to be honest, we were having a grand ol' time, so I couldn't tell if we were just distracted. When the food came, it was still warm though. Win! The delivery guy was super nice, too! The tacos are served in the traditional street style, two corn tortillas, meat, cilantro, onions, salsa. That's the way to serve a taco! No need for distracting frills, just simple ingredients that enhance and don't distract you from the flavor of the meat. The one thing that stood out to me were the tortillas. They reminded me of the freshly made stack of warm tortillas that my mom gets delivered to her in a beautiful embroidered napkin to her house in Mexico every morning. The tortillas were moist and actually tasted like corn, not chalky and dry like the horrible ones they sell at most bodegas. I really enjoyed the carne asada and the salsa had the perfect amount of heat for me. The chorizo taco was also really great and although it wasn't the traditional loose chorizo that I'm used to, it was more of a sausage, the spices were just right. I don't have anything to rave about the burrito, but then again, I usually don't. I think burritos have way too many ingredients in them and the flavors just sort of end up getting lost. The quesadilla was prepared perfectly, a crisp flour tortilla, gooey jack cheese and really well-seasoned chicken. 

Aside from really great food, I've heard that Papasitos has a Loteria night, or as they put it (for the gringos), Mexican Bingo. I'm really looking forward to actually going there and trying more of their food and hopefully playing some Loteria; I really hope they use frijoles (beans) as markers and not some fancy Bingo chips!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shrimp Ceviche

I haven't posted a new recipe in a while. I don't have a good excuse, but what I do have for you is a good recipe to make up for my slacking.

With this ridiculous heat, I thought I'd give you guys something refreshing and easy to make. Shrimp ceviche is something I've always enjoyed making as a summer dish. Traditionally, ceviche is raw seafood that is "cooked" in lime, or other citrus juice, usually marinated overnight. However, this is my easier version that doesn't require hours of marinating. Instead, I pre-cook the shrimp and then marinate them in lime juice for only one hour. I feel like you get the same flavors in half the time, plus, you minimize the risk of food poisoning (yikes!).

Shrimp Ceviche
Serves 4-6


1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (save the shells)
2 tbs salt
1 3/4 cups fresh lime juice
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (remove pulp)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1 tbs dried oregano
salt and pepper


In a large pot, add 4 quarts of water, 2 tbs of salt, the shells that you removed from the shrimp and bring to a boil. With a slotted spoon, remove the shells and discard. Now add the raw shrimp. The shrimp will take about 45 seconds to cook, so you'll have to watch them closely. As soon they turn pink and are no longer transparent, quickly remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.

Cut the shrimp in thirds. Place them in a bowl and add the lime juice. Cover and let marinade in the fridge for an hour.

Add the remaining ingredients and then place back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. After this, I like to taste the ceviche and adjust seasonings. Once everything is nice and tangy and perfectly seasoned, I plate the ceviche by using a slotted spoon to drain a bit of the lime juice. You don't want to drain it all, but you also don't want to serve it with all that juice.

I like serving ceviche with tostadas, sliced avocados, and some hot sauce (my favorite is Valentina). If you can't find tostadas, tortilla chips will also do the job.