Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Little Break from the Crazy... Carnitas!

If you are Vegetarian,
avert your gaze!
Sorry, but this is one meaty post.
In our house, meals are sometimes more like feeding time in a barn.  Try as I might to dissuade the little animals around our table, belching still happens.  At times there is potty talk, and there are routine squabbles in the ranks.
As children we were trained to have impeccable table etiquette.  Well, pretty good, anyway.  But the riggers of it left me all twitchy.  It was years before I could eat ham again.  And watching my little brother choke down cooked carrots and keeping our elbows off the table every night was hard.
Some of our other rules were:
-no singing at the table
-no blowing bubbles in your milk
- no talking with your mouth full
-no chewing with your mouth open
-no pushing your food onto your fork with your fingers
-no hiding your peas under your plate, in your milk cup
or in the cupboard by your seat
I totally agree. 
I mean, who wants to see a train-wreak-in-a-tunnel of chewed food? 
Manners matter. 
As a mom, I have always had a hard time negotiating the whole food-and-table-manners situation with my children.  Do you force them to eat?  One bite? Two bites? Clean their plate?  If they ask for 'seconds', should they have to finish them?  And how do you manage manners?
Guy and I have settled on the "You must try one bite" defense.  That is an every-night deal.  But for the 'manners' part of things we decided a few years ago not to make every night a training session.  So one night a week, usually Sunday, we have a fancy dinner, complete with cloth napkins, stemware, and candles. 

Sometimes the food is fancy, sometimes it's not.  We try to gently shape the behavior of the kids by giving them the tools to feel the need for the etiquette.  It is really hard to sip pink lemonade from a crystal goblet and not hold your pinky out, and a cloth napkin just begs to be used instead of a sleeve.
This week's training session was sponsored by Carnitas!
Less fancy, but a real fave. 
And here is my version of the recipe:
Place a pork shoulder or butt roast into a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, then braise till golden brown on all sides and until the kitchen smells awesome.  I find it helps to hold it in position with meat forks to get it completely browned on the narrow sides of the roast.
Place the roast in a crockpot on high with two cloves  (1 Tbsp) of minced garlic, 1/4 cup diced onions, and a handful of cilantro (if you like).  Ignore it for about 5 hours.  Tell yourself you will take a nap (we know you will end up doing laundry instead).
Now here is the magic:
With two forks, pull the meat into shreds.  If it doesn't tear easily, leave it in the crock pot a while longer.  Poor off the liquid into a sauce pan, and simmer it on the stove until it reduces down in volume and is golden and about as thick as syrup. 
Place the shredded meat into a roasting pan and poor the reduced liquid over it, and then roast it in the oven at 400 degrees.  Turn the meat every 15 minutes, or when the top is browned.  If your guests are salivating, you can expedite the process by crankin' up the heat to broil and babysitting it, turning every few minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  But be careful, because as you taste, it might be hard to stop.
Now, because I looked up just now and saw that those directions seem really blah-blah-blah,
 here is a summary:
We like to serve it with black beans and rice,
 cilantro, lime and sour cream,
 fresh tortillas and "fixin's".

Yum.  Or Rico, muy rico!
Only I bought a roast that was WAY too small. 
No leftovers. 

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