Mexican Pickled Onions : Cook Quickie

Mexican Pickled OnionThese simple pickled onions are a perfect complement to carnitas.

Mexican Pickled Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Procedure

  1. Combine ingredients in a glass jar. Make sure vinegar covers the onions.
  2. Place lid on jar.
  3. Shake well
  4. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight

Easy Carnitas Recipe—FEAST

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I was perusing the “Manager’s Special” section in the meat department of my local mega-mart this past weekend and found some ‘country-style’ boneless ribs. Country-style ribs aren’t ribs at all. They are sliced pork shoulder and need to be cooked long, low and slow.

I usually make North Carolina style Pulled Pork from pork shoulder. But I wanted to do something different this time. Carnitas is Mexico’s version of pulled pork. It makes for an awesome taco filling. The traditional method of making carnitas involves simmering chunks of pork in lard in a copper cauldron. Most of us don’t have a few gallons of lard hanging around—or a copper cauldron for that matter. Never fear, Serious Eats came up with an excellent alternative method that cooks pork shoulder low and slow in a casserole in the oven.

After reading the recipe and comments, I made a couple of changes. While the pork was in the oven, I made pickled red onions. The result was juicy, crispy, porky goodness. The pickled onions were a perfect complement

Easy Carnitas
serves 4 to 6, active time 45 minutes, total time 4 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 pounds boneless country-style ribs— cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium orange
  • 6 cloves garlic, split in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into three or four pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 medium tomatillos (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and split in half
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, split in half lengthwise, stem removed
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta
  • 24 corn tortillas

Procedures

  1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut one onion into fine dice and combine with cilantro. Refrigerate until needed. Split remaining onion into quarters. Set aside. Season pork chunks with 1 tablespoon salt and place in a 9 by 13 glass casserole dish. The pork should fill the dish with no spaces. Split orange into quarters and squeeze juice over pork. Nestle squeezed orange pieces into casserole. Add 2 onion quarters, 4 cloves garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to casserole. Nestle everything into an even layer. Pour vegetable oil over surface. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Cook until pork is fork tender, about 3 1/2 hours.
  2.  Using tongs, remove orange peel, onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves from pork. Transfer pork and liquid to a fine mesh strainer that is resting on a bowl. Let drain for 10 minutes. Transfer the pork to a large skillet (cast iron is best). You should end up with about 1-1½ cup liquid and 1 cup fat. Using a flat spoon or de-fatter, skim fat from surface and add back to pork along with a half cup of liquid. Shred pork into large chunks with fingers or two forks. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Transfer remaining liquid to medium saucepot.
  3.  Add tomatillos, remaining 2 onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, and jalapeños to sauce pot with strained pork liquid. Add water until it is about 1-inch below the top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until all of the vegetables are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Blend salsa with hand blender, or in a stand-up blender or food processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Allow the salsa to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4.  To serve: Place skillet on the stove over medium heat. Heat the pork until crispy on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Then stir with a spoon to expose new bits to the heat. Allow the meat to crisp on the bottom again, then remove it from the heat and cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
  5.  Meanwhile, heat tortillas. Preheat an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Working one tortilla at a time, dip tortilla in bowl filled with water. Transfer to hot skillet and cook until water evaporates from first side and tortilla is browned in spots, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook until dry, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer tortilla to a tortilla warmer, or wrap in a clean dishtowel. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  6. To eat, stack two tortillas on top of each other. Add two to three tablespoons carnitas mixture to center. Top with salsa verde, chopped onions and cilantro, queso fresco, and pickled red onion. Serve with lime wedges

White Wine Cheat Sheet: Feast Your Eyes Friday

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Last week, I came out as a redhead. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy and occasional white wine. Sometimes the meal—or the mood—calls for it. I like to drink a sweeter white wine when I’m eating spicy food, such as Szechuan or Thai. If I’m hanging out and sipping wine on a hot summer day, I might opt for something fruity and dry.

This cheat sheet gives a quick breakdown of the flavor profile of some popular white wine varieties.

What’s in your glass these days? Let me know in the comments!

White Wine Cheat Sheet

Millstone Cellars Farmgate: Drink Wine Wednesday Review

Farmgate Cider

Millstone Farmgate Jonathan, Stayman Winesap, and Smokehouse Apples Maryland Price: $16.00

Yep, this Wine Wednesday Review is reviewing an apple cider—not wine. Farmgate is from Millstone Cellars, the makers of Hopvine .This is a barrel-aged cider featuring tart heirloom apples.

Farmgate is pale yellow and effervescent in the glass. The nose yields citrus and apple. This dry cider has citrus notes with a hint of smoke on the palate. I paired Farmgate with a salmon. steak. The dryness and bubbles cut through the fatty salmon for an excellent pairing.

Rolling Smoke Barbecue, Harpers Ferry, WV: Feast

Pork Barbecue Sandwich

 

I am a huge fan of barbecue. Not just any type of barbecue—North Carolina chopped barbecue. The kind of barbecue that’s done low and slow in a smoker. I have done my own experimentation to replicate it at home, but I’m always on the lookout for good ‘cue.

On a recent trip to visit friends in Harpers Ferry, I saw the smoking rig and the big “BBQ” sign. I had to check it out. A friend and I stopped to pick up lunch. Rolling Smoke was obviously doing a booming business. However with one person taking orders and one person manning the smoker, the wait is long.

The modest menu consists of chopped pork barbecue or beef brisket sandwiches, ribs, smoked mac & cheese, and coleslaw. I ordered the chopped pork barbecue sandwich ($6) and smoked mac & cheese ($4). My friend ordered the beef brisket sandwich ($10).

My sandwich, while not the NC style I crave, was a decent rendition of a chopped pork barbecue sandwich. The meat was tender and flavorful. The sauce added a bit of sweetness with a slight tang of vinegar. The coleslaw was an excellent counterpoint.

My friend’s beef brisket sandwich was not as plentiful as my chopped pork sandwich. Her sandwich consisted of 1 large slice and two small slices of beef brisket. She said it was pretty good but not $10 worth.

Smoked Mac & Cheese

I’m kind of a mac and cheese snob. I usually don’t order it because restaurants typically don’t make it as well as I do at home. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the mac and cheese. The smoke was evident but not overwhelming, creating a pleasant side dish.

So if you happen to find yourself in Harpers Ferry, Give Rolling Smoke a try—just make sure you have time to wait.

Red Wine Cheat Sheet Infographic: Feast Your Eyes

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I am a red-head. No, I’m not a ginger. I mean that I like red wine…a lot. If you have been reading my wine reviews, you already know that I like wines with ‘junk in the trunk’. If you’re new (Hey!), junk in the trunk is my term for a full-bodied red wine.

No matter if you like your red wine to have junk in the trunk, or if you prefer something a little lighter, this cheat sheet can help you find what you’re looking for.

Red Wine Cheat Sheet

Pontificis GSM 2012: Wine Wednesday Review

Pontificis GSM

 

Pontificis
2012
 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre
Vin Pays d’Oc, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Price: $6.99

This is the last wine from my Trader Joe’s haul. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

GSM stands for Granache, Syrah, Mouvedre. This is a classic red wine blend—and one of my favorites. Pontificis did not disappoint. It is a deep purple in the glass with glints of red. The nose a little ‘hot’—which means it smells like it is high in alcohol. Once that initial note blows away, the nose yields black cherries and chocolate, with some tobacco notes.

The black cherries and chocolate continued to show on the palate. This wine has a little junk-in-the-trunk and paired well with my steak. This GSM punches well above its price point.

Are you a fan of GSM? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments!