I’m sure the title of this post has kept most of my vegan/vegetarian friends away, but for those of you who have tuned in anyway, just chop up the garlic, peppers, onion and shallots, sauté till just soft, and then mix into whatever: rice, other veggies (squash and zucchini would be wonderful), eggs, chilaquiles (sauteed tortilla strips with cheese). You know what you like.
All right, for the carnivores (of which I have several in my household), get you a pork loin from a pig that led a decent life and proceed. You have several amazing meals in front of you.
3 to 4 lb. pork loin
4 cloves garlic, minced or equivalent garlic paste
1 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used La Costeña brand)
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
3-4 shallots, minced (optional)
Chicken or vegetable stock (enough to almost cover meat and vegetables)
Corn tortillas (for tacos or soup)
Trim all visible fat from the pork loin and cut into 1-2” inch cubes. Mince garlic cloves (or use a couple of tablespoons of garlic paste) and mix into cubed meat. Chop chipotle peppers and mix peppers and juice/seasonings from can into meat. Set aside. Chop onions coarsely; mince shallots. Sauté onions and shallots until just tender and put in slow cooker; set cooker to high. Brown meat cubes on medium-high heat in olive oil in a pan on the stove, and then transfer to the cooker. Add stock; just enough to barely cover the meat. Cook on high 3-4 hours; don’t remove lid. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, use a dutch oven and bake at 375 for 2-3 hours.)
You can test a piece of meat at 3 hours; it should be an easily shreddable consistency. At this point, you have several options. The meat is delicious as is, and can be eaten alone, with side dishes, or in tacos. To make traditional carnitas, place some or all of the meat (shredded with just a little of the liquid) in a pan under the broiler just long enough for some of the edges of the meat to get crisp.
If you make tacos with the shredded meat, other ingredients to put in might include lettuce and tomato, or a lightly vinegared slaw of fine-chopped cabbage, or tiny bits of pineapple and cilantro (a la tacos al pastor). Raw chopped onion can be included as well (I don’t care for raw onion so I don’t go there).
Cooking the chipotle-in-adobo-seasoned meat in vegetable or chicken stock produces a rich sauce that can be poured over the meat (especially if the meat is served on a starch, like potatoes or rice) or used as a dipping sauce for the tacos.
If you have leftovers, the meat and sauce become a great soup base for a posole or tortilla soup the next day. For a posole, sauté more onions and garlic and add a couple of cans of hominy to the soup and warm through. For a tortilla soup, add a can or two of fire-roasted tomatoes, some frozen corn, and warm through. Cut tortillas into strips and fry in vegetable oil (so much better than tortilla chips, though these will do in a pinch). Add chunks of fresh avocado and cilantro just before serving.
After tacos for four on Saturday and soup for four on Sunday, I still have some of the soup liquid left (with tomatoes and corn and a few hard-to-spoon up shreds of pork). I’m going to freeze it, and use it for another dish next weekend. Good flavor never dies! And there’s a jar of the cooking liquid, unsoupified … hmmm. I’ll keep that in the fridge.
Postscript: Wednesday night. Bought greens a few days ago. Gave blood today. Those greens were just what my body craved, and the chipotle-adobo-pork stock made for amazing green grace in a bowl. Wish I could send some to Haiti.