Easy Cinco de Mayo Dinner

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My first carnitas.

Cinco de Mayo is around the corner and I found this wonderful recipe for pork carnitas and some fixings on this great cooking blog, Not Without Salt (click HERE).  It’s a perfectmake-ahead Cinco de Mayo meal. We had some friends coming over for dinner, and I wanted to serve our Trueheart Petite Sirah, so I thought I’d give it all a try.

They were WONDERFUL!!  The carnitas are actually on The Joyful Kitchen blog – click HERE for a link – or  I have it here:

Serves 6

1 (3 ½ lb to 4 lb) boneless pork shoulder, fat cap trimmed to ⅛ inches thick, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 small yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 organic orange: the juice and the peel
1 organic lime: the juice and the peel

Combine all ingredients in dutch oven. Stir well to coat the pork. Let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees with the oven rack in the lower-middle position. Add 2 cups of water to the pork mixture or just enough to cover the meet and bring to a boil on the stovetop while stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the pork is soft and fork tender, about 2 hours. Stir the pork and remove the lime peels about an hour into the cooking.

Remove the pot from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a large bowl. Remove and discard the orange halves, the onion and bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Do not skim the fat. Place the pot over high heat and reduce the liquid down to a syrupy consistency. Should take about 15 minutes at a boil and reduce down to 1 ½ cups.

Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in the reduced liquid and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Spread the pork out on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet on the lower-middle oven rack and broil until the top of the meat is well browned but not charred. Just until the edges are crisp, 5-8 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the pieces of meat and continue to broil until the top is well browned and the edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes longer.

They were a huge hit – especially with the men (of course).  I made them exactly as recommended in the recipe, but next time I’d probably up the spices.  I served them with fresh corn tortillas, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, black beans with diced tomatoes and fresh cooked corn that I cut off the cob and store-bought red and green salsas.

Click HERE for the homemade guacamole recipe I used from the Not Without Salt blog, or here it is:

Taqueria Guacamole

adapted from Bon Appetit June ‘12
makes about 2 cups

2 large, ripe avocados

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon lime zest
Kosher salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl mash avocado with lime zest, juice and a hearty pinch of salt using a fork to break up the avocado.
Once creamy and well mashed stir in the cilantro and minced garlic. Add a bit of water (1 Tablespoon at a time) to achieve a smooth texture. Season with salt or more lime juice.

I actually used three avocados and still ran out of guacamole.  Next time, I might double that recipe.

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My Little Bombes in the freezer – after chocolate and before.

I also made the Little Bombes on that same Not Without Salt blog post, and they were fantastic!  The chocolate turns into a hard little covering that you have to sort of break into with your spoon.  I made some with salt, some with ground espresso, and some with candied ginger. I thought the ginger was the best by a long shot. These will be a new dessert staple for casual company.  And, they will be fun to make with sprinkles with the nieces, nephews and grandkids.

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My finished Cinco de Mayo Little Bombes.

Click HERE for the recipe, or here it is:

Little Bombes
adapted from Jeni Britton Bauer via Bon Appetit, June ‘12

12 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup coconut oil
pinch salt

topping suggestions:
lime, lemon or orange zest
ground coffee
cocoa nibs
flake salt
candied ginger
turbinado sugar

In a medium bowl combine the chocolate, coconut oil and salt. Microwave in intervals of 30 seconds stirring between each or melt over a bowl of simmering water.

Once melted remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

While the chocolate is cooling scoop some ice cream onto a cold plate then place in the freezer until ready to dip.

With a scoop of ice cream on a fork spoon the melted chocolate over the ice cream. Using another fork gently slide the chocolate covered scoop of ice cream onto a plate and sprinkle with any number of toppings. Work in small batches and quickly return ice cream to the freezer. Let set for at least 10 minutes before serving.

This can also be done several days in advance.

The other thing I loved about this dinner?  Other than warming up the tortillas, everything was done in advance, so I was able to sip wine, eat, laugh, talk, relax and enjoy.

What are you cooking up these days?





2 responses to “Easy Cinco de Mayo Dinner”

  1. avatar Vickie Bates says:

    The whole meal sounds fabulous – especially if accompanied by Trueheart Vineyard Petite Sirah! Thanks for included the recipes so we can follow at home.

    Summertime on the east coast means lots of seasonal favorites: fresh lobster, just-picked corn on the cob, locally grown lettuce and tomatoes for salad, and local blueberries for blueberry summer pudding with custard sauce. (The summer pudding’s about as far as we go for summer cooking!)

  2. avatar Trueheart Vineyard says:

    East Coast summers sound incredible! Our tomatoes are really starting to come in, so we too will be doing fresh salads.