Central American · Recipes

Carnitas

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Carnitas are delicious in a fresh tortilla or tostada. I enjoy them with guacamole or avocado.

You will need:

  • 1 3.5-4 lb boneless pork butt roast, trimmed of fat, and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 oranges – use them to make 1/3 cup orange juice and keep the halves.
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • warm tortillas
  • avocado*

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Step one:

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine pork, water, onion, lime juice, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in dutch oven. The liquid should barely cover the meat. Add orange juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat on the stove.

Cover pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is soft and falls apart, about 2 hours.

Step two:

Remove pot from the oven. Use a slotted spoon and transfer pork to a bowl. Throw away the orange halves, onion and bay leaves. Do not skim the fat from the liquid. Place the pot over high heat and simmer the braising liquid, stir often until thick and syrupy (10-12 minutes). You should have 1 cup of reduced liquid.

Step three:

Shred the pork with 2 forks on a cutting board or preferred surface. Return the pork to the bowl and add the braising liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step four:

Spread pork pieces in an even layer on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Broil pork until well browned and edges are slightly crisp on both sides (10-15 minutes).

Serve with tortillas,  cilantro and lime.

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Central American · Recipes · Side dish

Cilantro Lime Rice

You will need:

  • 2 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves, as well as 2 tbs. minced
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion or shallot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges for juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 c long grain white rice, rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step one:

process broth and cilantro leaves in a blender until the cilantro is chopped, 30 seconds. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot/onion and cook until softened (5 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice & cook, stirring often until the edges become translucent (2 minutes). Add broth mixture, squeezed lime and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (17-20 minutes).

Step two:

Take pot off the heat, let the rice sit for 10 minutes. Add in cilantro and fluff. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

*Source: America’s Test Kitchen

Central American · Recipes

Pork Tinga with Tostadas

img_4310These are excellent served in a variety of ways: tacos, tostadas or over rice. I truly enjoy serving them with diced avocado or guacamole. Because you need about 1 1/2 hours to cook down the pork, this is a great weekend family meal.

You will need:

  • Tostadas (hom-eade or storebought).
  • 2 lbs boneless pork butt roast, trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 onions – 1 quartered, 1 diced
  • 5 garlic cloves – 3 peeled & smashed, 2 minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbs minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, diced
  • 2 oz queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • lime wedges
  • salt and pepper

Step one:

In a large sauce pan, bring 6 cups water, pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic, thyme and 1 tsp salt to a simmer over medium-high heat. Skim off foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium low, partially cover, cook until pork is tender (1.5 -2 hours).

Step two:

Drain the pork, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Throw away onion, garlic, thyem. Return the pork the saucepan and mash it with a potato masher or shred with two forks.

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Heat oil in a  skillet over medium-high heat. Add oregano, shredded pork, chopped onion and cook until the pork is brown and crisp (around 7 minutes). Stir in minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, chipotle, bay leaves, reserved pork liquid and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with avocado, queso fresco, cilantro and limes.

 

Central American · Recipes · Spanish

Chicken Adobo

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You will need:

  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3-4 tbs minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground espresso, fine
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbs canola
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbs molasses
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs fresh cilantro

Step one:

Blend tomatoes in a food process until smooth. Set aside. Combine chipotle, garlic, oregano, espresso, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl. Pat chicken dry and coat with chipotle rub.

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Step two:

Heat 1 tbs oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides (6-7 minutes) and transfer to a plate. It will not be completely cooked.

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Step three:

Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, around 6-7 minutes. Stir in molasses, tomatoes and chicken along with juices. Cover and simmer chicken until the sauce has thickened, around 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate (keep warm with aluminum foil if needed). Season sauce in pan with salt and pepper, and then spoon over chicken. Add cilantro on top. Serve with rice.

 

Source: America’s Test Kitchen*

Central American · Recipes

Tequila-Lime Chicken Fajitas

This was a relatively easy way to enjoy the classic combination of tequila and lime. This makes for a very fresh, yet rich flavor. I adapted this from an excellent tequila-lime shrimp quesadilla recipe which I will post soon! For this recipe, I served it with charred corn.

You will need:

  • 2-3 tbs canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 shallot or 2 scallions, sliced thin.
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, sliced into thin strips.
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small sweet pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 tsp minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • 1 tsp lime zest and two limes, cut into quarters
  • Corn tortillas or flour tortillas, grilled
  • Cotija or Monterey Jack cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heating Tortillas: While cooking the vegetables and shrimp, begin to heat your tortillas.

  • Electric stove: Using your favorite frying pan or griddle, heat the pan on medium high until drops of water make the pan sizzle. Heat the tortillas for about 45 seconds on each side.
  • Gas stove: Using tongs, heat the tortillas over a low flame.* This takes some practice & skill.
  • Oven: This is good for a large stack. Preheat the oven to 350°F and assemble stacks of five or six tortillas. Wrap each stack in aluminum foil and place them on the center rack of your oven.
  • Keeping them warm:  To eat immediately: Keeping them double-wrapped in a layer of aluminum foil and then a dishtowel will keep them pretty warm even without a direct heat source. For later: Wrap your tortillas in a damp towel or aluminum foil and keep them in a slow cooker or an oven set on low.

Step one:

Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, chipotle, shallots or scallions, and 1/4 tsp of salt and cook until the mixture is softened ,about 2 minutes. Add sliced pepper and tequila and simmer until most of the tequila has evaporated and the pan is drier, about 5 minutes.

 

 

Step two:

Add chicken, lime zest and the the juice of one lime and cook, stirring often until the meat is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. In the last minute of cooking, add 1/4 cup cilantro to the mixture, stirring to release the flavor.

Step three:

Serve with additional lime & cilantro, sour-cream, cheese, avocado and salsa of your choice. Enjoy!

I might have gone overboard with the salsa

 

Central American · Recipes

Shrimp Diabla

img_8466This is spicy and absolutely delicious served with rice and avocado. Feel free to cut back on the amount of chiles in order to dial back the heat.

You will need:

  • 2 jalapeños, diced or 8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn in to pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, plus extra as needed
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lbs extra large shrimp (21-25’s) peeled & deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbs lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • A dutch oven, or enameled cast iron pot, if possible.

Step one:

Toast guajillos in dutch oven over medium heat. Stir frequently to release fragrance for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. (If you do not have guajillos, skip this step and add chopped jalapenos to step two)*.

Step two:

Heat oil in now empty dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion and 1/2 tsp salt and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chipotle, oregano, and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in tomato sauce, water and toasted guarillos*/jalapeños; bring to a simmer and cook until chiles are soft, around 10 minutes.

Step three:

Transfer the mixture into a blender and process until smooth – 30 seconds. Return sauce to the pot and stir in shrimp. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until shrimp are opaque and cooked, 5-7 minutes. Stir cilantro and lime juice into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with extra cilantro and lime over cilantro-lime rice.

Central American · Recipes · Spanish

Seared Shrimp with Avocado and Tomatoes

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This is a very refreshing summer dish, especially if you have fresh, ripe tomatoes. This is mildly spicy. If you want to adjust heat, add less chipotles in adobo sauce. The avocado pairs perfectly with the texture and flavors of the dish.

You will need:

  • 1 lb fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 shallot or 6 scallions, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1.5 lbs extra large shrimp (21-25’s), peeled and deveined
  • 1/8 tsp sugar (or a pinch)
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 1 tbs lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1 avocado, halved and pitted, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one:

Toss tomatoes, shallot/scallion whites*, cilantro, garlic, chipotle and 3/4 tsp salt together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, toss shrimp with sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

 

Step two:

Heat 2 tbs oil in a skillet over high heat – your goal is to sear the shrimp, so a good quality skillet is preferred. Add shrimp to the pan in a single layer and cook, without moving them, until slightly brown (seared) on 1 side. No more than 1 minute. Transfer shrimp to a large bowl (they will be undercooked – this is okay).

Step three:

Add tomato mixture to the skillet and cook on high in the remaining shrimp juices. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomatoes have softened. Stir in the shrimp with accumulated juices and cook until the shrimp are opaque, about 1-2 minutes.

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Step four:

Transfer shrimp to a platter and add avocado. Serve with additional cilantro, scallion greens and lime wedges.

 

Central American · Recipes

Sopita: Pork & Tomatillo Stew

You will need:

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 lb boneless pork shoulder (or slice up a bone-in pork shoulder)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, sliced thin
  • 5-6 small tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos, chopped (optional- this depends on your love of spice)*
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh cilantro

Serve with: fresh cilantro, sour cream, monterey-jack cheese

  1. Prepare your veggies  
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown pork on all sides for about 15 minutes. Season with salt, oregano & cumin. Transfer to slow cooker, reserving juices in the pan.  
  3. Cook onion and garlic, tomatillos and peppers in remaining juices, stirring and scraping up any browned bits for about 4-5 minutes. Add a little salt while cooking. transfer juices and onions/garlic into slow
  4. Pour in chicken broth to cover the ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours.  
  5. Shred cooked pork with a fork, and spoon into bowls.
  6. Add cilantro, cheese, and sour cream and enjoy:)


*Notes –

Allow for jalapeno seeds if you want the dish to be spicier.