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

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 1Tacos are a way of life in Austin. You can get tacos for any meal, any time of day, with nearly anything on them. A stormy weekend followed by a cold front inspired a spicy mixture of chicken, onions and peppers simmering away in my slow cooker. The end result is tender chicken, loaded with flavor, and piled high with shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese (like any good taco should be!) The mixture of spices could easily be substituted for a taco seasoning packet, but it’s cheaper to make your own (plus no mystery ingredients!).

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 3Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 2Ingredients:
2 bone in chicken breasts
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced

Slow Cooker Chicken Soft Tacos 4Place chicken in slow cooker. Top with diced tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, crush red pepper, salt and pepper and cook on low for 3 hours. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno to slow cooker for 1 hour more. Remove chicken and shred, discarding bones and skin, and return to slow cooker to heat thoroughly. Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa and your favorite taco toppings. Enjoy!

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

Pickled Onions

Pickled Onions 1Pickled onions are so delicious that if you make them once, you will forever have a jar of pickled onions in your fridge. They are perfect to top tacos, nachos, sandwiches, burgers, and you will never want to be without them!

 

 

Pickled Onions 2

 

Luckily they are pretty easy to make also. They can be made plain or by adding peppercorns, thyme, jalapenos, radishes, anything you want to give them an extra kick of flavor.

Ingredients:
Red onion
Boiling water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 cup white vinegar

Pickled Onions 3Slice red onion, put in a colander and place colander in sink. Slowly pour boiling water over onions. In a glass bowl or jar, dissolve salt and sugar in vinegar. Add onions (and any other optional spices) and in 30 minutes you will have pickled onions. They are even better after a day in the fridge and will keep for a few weeks.
Enjoy!

La Condesa

La Condesa Decor 2La Condesa is becoming a mainstay of ours. From their bright and cheery décor, to having one of the Top 5 Margaritas in Austin, this is the kind of place that just makes me happy.

 

La Condesa TacosOften thought of as one of the more expensive Mexican restaurants in Austin, the key is knowing when to go and what to order. On Sunday mornings, skip the specialty cocktails and opt for their $2 Bloody Mary and Mimosas. Get some of the tacos, they are mix and match and can be ordered a la carte. Grab a fish taco, grilled and dressed with a light aioli and pair it with one of the roasted chicken tacos, topped with cilantro, onions, and salsa verde and you are on your way.

 

La Condesa Mixta Con Pollo RostizadoThe best brunch dish at La Condesa is the Mixta Con Pollo Rostizado. Mixed greens are piled high with thinly sliced onions and cucumbers, avocado and queso fresco, very lightly dressed in a mustard vinaigrette. The roasted chicken is perfectly seasoned and seems to be finished with a confit style of cooking, which gives it a savory balance to the fresh greens, not often found in a typical salad.

 

 

Margarita La CondesaIf Happy Hour is more your thing, come in for some of the best specialty cocktails in Austin. I would love to know who comes up with their cocktail list. The Margarita La Condesa, with fresh pineapple and herbaceous cactus-lemongrass salt rim, is perfectly balanced, and is number one on my list of Top 5 Margaritas in Austin.

 

 

The cubico is La Condesa El Cubicodownright sinful. The spice of the saffron salt rim and the smokiness of the tobacco pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla brandy and grilled pineapple juice. Top it off with a hefty pour of cazadores resposado, you have the perfect sipper for when there is a little chill in the air. Best of all, all drinks are half off during happy hour, so the normally pricey specialty cocktails are all $6 from 5-7pm.