Instant Pot Carnitas

This dish made me a believer in the Instant Pot. Sure, I had heard all of the rave reviews, but I was still skeptical. Carnitas was the second dish I tried in my Instant Pot DUO 60, and I was amazed. The pork was fall-apart tender, juicy and flavorful, and they were equally delicious reheated on the second day. Not only are these the best carnitas I’ve ever had, but the entire prep time was 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot is set on Manual, you can leave it alone for the entire cooking and pressure release.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 6)
3-4 lb. pork shoulder
Carnitas Spice Mixture (see recipe below)
2 tbsp. canola oil
⅓ cup orange juice
⅓ cup water
1 white onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Carnitas Spice Mixture
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. chipotle powder

Cut pork shoulder into six equally sized chunks and evenly coat with spice mixture. Press sauté on Instant Pot. Once display reads “hot” add oil and brown pork on all sides, working in batches. Add pork, orange juice, water, onion and garlic to Instant Pot, close the lid and hit manual. Set timer to 45 mins. Release pressure naturally once timer stops. Shred pork in a large bowl and spoon liquids over shredded pork. Service with tortillas, pickled onions, chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairings:
Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010
Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013

Honey Sriracha Pork Chops

Sweet. Spicy. Savory. Are there better flavor combinations than that?

And when something so flavorful comes together so easily, that’s even better. The sweet and spicy sauce comes together in the few minutes that the chops are searing, let it simmer all together for a bit, and dinner is practically done!

The pork loin is juicy and tender from simmering in the honey Sriracha sauce and is perfect served over rice, broccoli or brussel sprouts.

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 pork loin chops
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup water
2 tbsp. Sriracha
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (optional, for extra heat!)
1 ½ tbsp. corn starch

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear pork chops for 3-4 minutes per side and remove from pan. Sauté garlic in pan drippings for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, water, Sriracha and crushed red pepper (if using). Return pork chops to pan and pour sauce mixture over pork chops. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, turning pork chops halfway. In a small bowl, whisk corn starch with 1-2 tbsp. water to make a slurry. Remove pork chops from pan and slowly stir slurry into sauce to thicken. Return to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce is thick. Spoon glaze over pork chops. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Chicken Fried Pork Chops

In Texas, it seems like we will chicken fry just about anything. I’ve seen pickles, short ribs and (of course) the ever popular chicken fried steak, but one of my favorites is the chicken fried pork chop. Pork loin is a very affordable cut of meat, but it can be notoriously dry if overcooked. To keep it moist, I’ve cooked it in the Sous Vide or smoked it as a roast, but the best way to keep loin chops from drying out is to chicken fry it. Pair it with some Sausage Gravy and you are in southern-fried-heaven!

For the brine:
3 cups water
½ cup brine mixture (I used a pre-made store bought)

For the pork chops:
4 boneless pork loin chops, pounded to ½ inch thick
1 cup buttermilk
Few dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt. More to taste after frying (the brine is fairly salty)
Canola or peanut oil for frying

To prepare the brine: in a medium saucepot, combine water and brine mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once brine mixture is fully dissolved in water, turn off heat and let cool completely. Pound boneless pork chops to ½ inch thick and pour the cooled brine over the chops. Let sit in refrigerator 6-8 hours.

When ready to cook, remove pork from brine, rinse and pat dry. In one bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce (if using). In another, combine flour, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Dip the pork chops in the buttermilk, then dredge in flour mixture. Dip back in the buttermilk and into the flour again to ensure a thick crispy coating.

Heat oil on medium-low heat. Place breaded pork chops in pan when oil looks shimmery (chops should sizzle in pan). Fry for 5-7 minutes per side until crispy. Remove from pan and let drain on a wire rack. Serve as is, or topped with Sausage Gravy.

Wine Pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

 

 

 

Green Chile Pork Soup

Depending on the season, my healthy meal choices revolve around either soups or salads. On a chilly winter day, nothing beats a hot, steaming bowl of soup, and a savory, spicy soup like this warms you from the inside out.  Added bonus! This Green Chile Pork Soup imparts all the flavors of a typical Tex-Mex green chile pork, but is made with the lean tenderloin instead of pork shoulder, which eliminates a substantial portion of the calories. This soup also freezes well and can easily be doubled to stock some in the freezer.

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1 tbsp. canola oil
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
½ bunch cilantro, tied together
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ lime
Optional garnish: lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro

In a large stock pot, heat canola oil on medium heat, brown cubed pork tenderloin on all sides, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Work in batches if necessary. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, poblanos, celery, onion, potatoes and cilantro. It’s easier to remove the cilantro at the end of cooking if it’s tied together, but it doesn’t need to be. Add cumin, salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper!). Simmer for 2 hours, until pork is tender. Remove cilantro, and add lime juice before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Wine pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Sous Vide Carnitas

Sous Vide Carnitas TacosI’ve mentioned more than a few times that I love my Sous Vide Supreme. It just makes everything better! I’ve made the best ever sous vide fried chicken and it totally transforms flank steak. In my experience with everything I’ve cooked Sous Vide, it makes the biggest transformations of cuts of meat that are typically tough. I love pork shoulder, but our Kamado is in storage for a little while, and wanted to see how it would come out in the Sous Vide.

 

Seasoned Pork Shoulder for Sous Vide CarnitasUsing the same spices that I would use in my carnitas, I put a dry rub on a 2 lb. piece of pork shoulder, popped it in the Sous Vide for 24 hours at 145 degrees, and the result was perfectly cooked carnitas that were flavorful and juicy! After cooking, pull the meat apart, discarding any fatty pieces, crisp in a cast iron skillet to get those crackled edges carnitas is known for, and squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top. Seems like this is a whole lot healthier than traditional carnitas cooked oil or lard!  It also only takes about 5 minutes of prep to go into the Sous Vide and 10 minutes to crisp after removing.

Ingredients:
Pork butt
Dry Rub:
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper

Sous Vide Carnitas Tacos 2This recipe would make great tacos, nachos or sandwiches. Serve on corn tortillas with pickled onions, cilantro, queso fresco and lime for an easy taco night!

Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012
Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013

Sous Vide Pork Loin

It’s not a big secret that I love my Sous Vide Supreme. It makes a killer flank steak and is even perfect for making fried chicken! I like pork loin, but it can be notoriously dry if baked in the oven, especially if it is over cooked. Enter the Sous Vide method of cooking. Sous Vide style of cooking includes a water bath being set to the temperature that is desired for the internal temperature of what is being cooked, so impossible to overcook and make dry. Not long ago, the safe temperature for pork was thought to be 160 degrees, but was recently lowered to 145 degrees. Pork tends to be a little dry at 160 degrees, so I aim for 150-155 degrees for tender, juicy pork. This recipe has a spicy, flavorful rub and is finished under the broiler with a sweet duck sauce, to make it perfectly caramelized.

Sous Vide Pork Loin 1Ingredients:
2 lb. pork loin roast
½ tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or any other sweet glaze or sauce that would pair well with the spice of chipotle.

Set Sous Vide to 153 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together chipotle powder, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Rub spice mixture on the outside of pork loin, place in a vacuum seal bag, seal and cook in Sous Vide for approximately 4-6 hours. Once cooked, remove from pouch, coat outside in duck sauce. Broil on high for approximately 5 minutes until outside has some nice charring. Pork will be spicy, sweet, juicy and delicious!

Sous Vide Pork Loin 2Enjoy!

Sweet and Salty Pork in Sherry Garlic Sauce

Sweet and Salty Pork with Sherry Garlic SauceAfter a nice long weekend in Mexico, it’s time to get back to real life.  That means getting some snuggles from the pups, more yoga, and ditching the margaritas and enchiladas for some healthier fare.  These pork chops are braised in a salty, sweet, garlicky sauce, which makes them really tender and delicious. This has all the flavor profiles going for it, salty from the soy sauce, spice from the red pepper and garlic and sweet from the sherry and brown sugar. This dish goes really well with rice, noodles, or any green veggie you would like to sweep through this savory sauce.

Ingredients:
2 porterhouse or center cut pork chops
2 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tbsp. sherry
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

On medium-high heat, brown pork chops in 1 tbsp. oil in a heavy bottomed skillet for 3-5 minutes per side. Remove chops and reduce heat to medium-low.  Sauté garlic for 1 minute, until fragrant.  Wisk together brown sugar, sherry, soy sauce, water, flour, remaining oil and red pepper.  Return pork to skillet, pouring sauce on top evenly.  Cover and braise for 15 minutes.  Flip and cook covered for 8-10 minutes more, until internal temperature reads 145-155 degrees for medium to medium-well chops.  Sauce should have thickened during cooking.  Spoon some of that salty, sweet goodness on top of pork before serving.

Enjoy!