Archive for the ‘Tomato’ Category

I’ve tried different carnita-like dishes including the Taco Bell Cantina Tacos, the Del Taco carnitas, carnitas from a local pub and even had the pleasure of enjoying some very authentic carnitas prepared in an actual Mexican restaurant (me and my friend were the only non-Latinas there). I used to not enjoy corn tortillas very much and thusly, I didn’t really care for the carnitas I had tried at Del Taco – but luckily I was lucky enough to try those more authentic well-prepared ones which really got me into the whole cilantro, lime and corn tortilla combo. And also, corn tortillas supposedly don’t have gluten so it really helps me reduce the amount of gluten my body has to deal with.

I was happy to see that my boyfriend had brought back everything that I had asked for in order to prepare these carnitas. The picture of my carnita is very sloppy – this was because I had already eaten two carnitas by the time I found the camera and by then I was tired, full, had very little chicken left, and didn’t bother chopping the cilantro much.

Materials:

  • A fresh lime
  • Fresh cilantro  
  • Chicken, beef or whatever kind of meat you like
  • Salt
  • Chili pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onions

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  1. First of all, decide whether or not you’re going to barbecue (delish!) or cook the meat in the kitchen (stove, oven…)
  2. If you’re going to barbecue it, you really don’t have to do much to the meat in my opinion other than rub it a bit with chili pepper, lime juice and mix it in with chopped garlic.
  3. If you’re going to prepare the chicken in the kitchen, feel free to add whatever seasoning you enjoy. I like to use ginger powder and when I’m really in a hurry, onion and garlic powder.
  4. Toast a few corn tortillas. I don’t use two like you usually see because that makes it to heavy in my opinion but if you like to use two for one carnita that’s pretty much the norm.
  5. Cut the meat into small chunks and mix it in with freshly chopped cilantro, diced onions, a few squeezes of lime, and a dash of salt. Place it on the tortilla. You can also add chili powder and whatever else you would like to add. You can also add the raw onions and cilantro after adding the chicken and then go ahead and squeeze the lime on top of that. I usually do that instead because it’s faster.
  6. I like to add extra condiments like shredded cheese or sour cream. I also added a bit of freshly prepared salsa (well, not really fresh since the tomatoes were canned!).
  7. Fold it and enjoy!

 

The salsa recipe itself is really simple and tastes a lot better than the canned stuff. Since my boyfriend bought the cilantro on sale and ended up bringing back about a garden and a half worth of the stuff, I had to make salsa so it didn’t come to waste. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of cilantro still left…

Just chop up fresh cilantro along with raw onions, add to either a can of diced tomatoes or dice four fresh ones, add some lime juice and whatever seasonings you like depending on how spicy you like it. I added a bit of onion, garlic and ginger powder as well as chili powder and crushed pepper – and a secret dash of that hot sauce with the rooster on it (yes, I know what people call it).

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Boiled polenta with grilled lamb, salt pork tomato sauce, and brie.

I really love lamb, and I really love polenta. So I decided I’d make a dish out of it. First I started buying those weird pre-made polenta things which had an odd consistency and didn’t have much flavor. Then I finally found polenta meal hidden in the baking isle at Save Mart. So this is the result.

Note: I don’t really use measurements myself because then I can’t customize my meals to my tastes. You should always make the dish to your specifications. Some people like saltier food, some like blander food, and others like spicier food. The easiest way to cook is to keep tasting your food and invent as you go along.

Substitutions: You may substitute the lamb for steak or any other red meat. You can also substitute the salt pork for your favorite bacon. If you like, you can use some milk in the polenta, or even some butter, or olive oil. If you really like you could make a ratatouille-like tomato sauce. The more vegetables, the better! If you really can’t find polenta, you can use the kind of corn meal you use to make corn bread. It is a little finer but it does make for a creamier dish.

You will need…

  • Polenta.
  • Canned tomatoes (crushed or whole if you wish).
  • Salt pork.
  • Capers (if you want).
  • Two lamb chops.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Cheese of your choice.
  • Any combination of thyme, rosemary, basil, and pepper.
  • Olive oil.
  • Salt.
  • Bell peppers.

How to prepare…

The polenta.

It is easier to prepare this dish if you prepare the polenta before hand. I usually cook everything at once because it doesn’t take nearly as long, but if you’re not used to cooking multiple items that need constant attention then I suggest you don’t try it yet.

  1. Pour water into a preferably non-stick pot. It is up to you how much you want to make. I usually make as much as I can and refrigerate the left overs to fry another day.
  2. Put the pot on the stove. Do not turn the heat on yet.
  3. Pour the polenta into the pot. I don’t measure how much, but usually try to keep it to 3/4 of the amount of water in the pot. Remember that you can always add water to the polenta if it needs further cooking or is still too hard.
  4. Set your heat on medium and begin to stir right about the time it begins to boil.
  5. Put a couple of pinches of salt in.
  6. Keep stirring.
  7. You may add herbs or dried tomatoes to the mix if you wish.
  8. Keep tasting the polenta to see if it has reached a desired consistency. It should be creamy though it will have some firmer bits in it. It usually takes around 30-45 minutes. Keep cooking it and adding water until it is as creamy as you like. Remember that if you add more water to keep cooking it until it is mostly evaporated and the polenta has an almost putty-like consistency.
  9. Once the polenta is the way you like it, turn off theheat and leave it uncovered (if you want it to firm up) or cover it up (to keep it softer).

The sauce and lamb.

  1. Chop the onions, garlic and bell peppers and cut the salt pork into cubes.
  2. Put enough olive oil in the pan to thinly cover the bottom.
  3. Turn the heat on medium and allow the oil to heat up.
  4. Dump the vegetables into the pan and allow them to cook until the onions begin to turn transparent and the garlic begins to brown. Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Dump the herbs in and saute` a bit longer and then dump the salt pork in and cook it up until it browns a bit.
  6. Open the canned tomatoes and pour it in the pan quickly being careful not to make the oil splatter.
  7. Put as many capers as you like. I also like to pour some of the caper vinegar in the mix.
  8. Wait until the tomato sauce begins to bubble and turn the temperature down to medium low.
  9. Cover with a lid and allow it to slow cook for 30 minutes or so.
  10. While the tomato sauce is cooking, fire up the grill and put your lamb chops on it. It is up to you how well done you want the lamb chops to be. If you don’t want to grill the lamb you can always cook them in the tomato sauce. This will make the sauce a bit more fatty but it will definitely give it a nice flavor.
  11. Add salt to taste making sure to periodically taste the sauce to prevent over-salting. You may also add more herbs if you wish.

Tip: Don’t worry about making too much polenta, you can always either fry it up, or bake it. Also, be careful when salting this dish because salt pork itself will do a good job of salting it. DO NOT over-salt the polenta. An insipid polenta with a salty sauce is better than having it the other way around. I made the mistake of over-salting the polenta and ended up having to put it back in the pot and add more polenta, cooking it longer.

How to put it together…

  1. First take a ladle and scoop up as much polenta as you like into a dish.
  2. Then place the lamb chop/s on the dish and then ladle the tomato sauce on top of both making sure to get a good amount of vegetables and salt pork on top.
  3. Add your favorite cheese on top.
  4. Bon Appetit!

Tip: Not that I’ve tried it, but it may be possible to cook polenta in a rice cooker. It works with quinoa, so why not with polenta!?