Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Paprika Rice Supper with Pork Carnitas

Even when I try to cook something from a culture not my own, I still can't help but potchke with it. For instance, Mom recently gave me a wonderful Mexican cookbook, Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, which she had doubles of. I've never made Mexican food before and, having grown up mostly with simple taquerias in lieu of slow-cooked homestyle Mexican food, I was excited about trying it out in my own kitchen. What I love about Bayless's book is that, even though there are many, many directions for almost all the recipes, the directions are very straightforward and down to earth. So, after devouring the recipes on the page, I decided to make Pork Carnitas with Achiote Rice, but because I had no Achiote, I decided to substitute it with Smoked Spanish Paprika, thereby making a fusion dish with my first attempt at "authentic" Mexican cooking. While I'm sure the Carnitas would have been wonderful with Achiote, it was super with the Paprika, taking on a smoky flavor that underscored the slow-cooked Pork very well. The Pork itself was extremely simple to make and, while it had to cook for a while, it was well worth the effort and, actually, required very little hands-on time. So, feel free to experiment, and enjoy!

Paprika Rice Supper with Pork Carnitas

2 tablespoons Smoked Spanish Paprika
2 teaspoons whole Allspice
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
3 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
7 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, or to taste
1 - 2 pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder, trimmed and cut int 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 Anaheim Chile, fresh
1 cup frozen Peas, defrosted
1 cup Spanish Rice
1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups Beef Broth
2 Carrots, chopped (I used Yellow and Purple Carrots from the Greenmarket)
Italian Parsley, chopped, as a garnish (optional)

With a mortar and pestle, grind and mix well Paprika, Allspice, Pepper, Oregano, Vinegar, Garlic and Salt (it is easier to give garlic a pastelike consistency if ground together with Kosher Salt). Add water (around 1 tablespoon) to make a thick paste. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Place Pork in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover with water by 1/2-inch. Add Lime Juice and pinch of Kosher Salt. Simmer, partially covered, on medium heat, for 1 - 1 1/2 hours; until the pork is frying in its own fat and no other liquid remains. (As you near the end of the cooking time, watch the pot carefully so you don't wind up with a nasty burned mess like I did.) Reduce heat and, uncovered, brown meat, turning frequently, for about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove meat. I only had a thin veneer of fat left--perfect to cook the rice in. If you have too much fat remaining, feel free to empty some of it out.

Meanwhile, pre-heat broiler and, when hot, place Chile inside and roast, turning every few minutes, until blackened on all sides. Remove, wrap in a kitchen towel and, when cool, peel off blistered skin, cut in half lengthwise, remove and discard seeds, and dice Chile.

Return Carnitas saucepan (with a thin layer of fat on the bottom) to the stove over medium heat and add Rice and Onion. Cook, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until Onion is soft and Rice no longer translucent. While Rice and Onion cook, heat Broth in a small saucepan. Stir in Paprika paste (2 tablespoons, or to taste) and Salt, if needed. Mix well. When Rice and Onion are ready, add Broth mixture, along with Pork, Chile and Carrots. Stir once, scrape down sides of pot, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until Rice is nearly cooked through--about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in Peas and re-cover, then let stand another 5 minutes or so, until Rice is cooked through. Fluff Rice and serve, sprinkled with chopped Parsley.

and and and and and and

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