Sunday, May 6, 2007

Festeja Adelante, Garth

There is a lot of food in this house right now. I am knee-deep in leftovers from yesterday's Cinco de Mayo party, plus I've been gnawing my way through a pan of homemade cornbread all day.
Yesterday's fiesta was quite the spread. Last week's chicken recipe was, of course, a big star. Also in attendance were fresh guacamole, homemade pico de gallo, a fantastic bean dish from my friend Jennifer, and today's selection, a slow-cooked pork roast that drew raves from the carnivores.
My favorite thing about slow-cooking is starting the dish the night before, and waking up to an entire downstairs that smells like the afternoon meal. It's all I can do to not to start eating right out of the crock-pot at 9:00 in the morning. Make this, and spend your day contemplating the merits of delayed gratification.

Cedar Creek Carnitas
For the dry rub:
2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar

one pork loin roast (1.5 - 4 pounds)
6-8 whole unpeeled garlic cloves

combine the dry rub ingredients - if you can, further mince the garlic after combining it with the other ingredients (I don't, because I cringe at the thought of what chopping salt is doing to my good knife). Coat the roast with the dry rub, using 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of rub for each pound of meat. Allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours.

There are two methods for cooking the pork:
Method 1: Preheat oven to 275°F. Place the pork and garlic cloves in a heavy dutch oven or roasting pan, preferably one just larger than the roast. Cover the pan and cook until very tender, about 1 hour per pound (plus maybe 30 minutes extra).

Method 2: Place the pork and garlic cloves in a slow-cooker (if your cooker is much larger than the roast, wrap the pork and garlic cloves in aluminum foil, then place the whole package in the cooker) and cook on low setting for 8-12 hours.

Remove the pork from the pan and shred. If you can, allow the pork to rest for about ten minutes first (my experience, however, is that the roast falls apart upon removal). For additional flavoring, mash the cooked garlic cloves in with the shredded pork. Serve with tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, queso fresco, etc.

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