Rice with Lime and Cilantro

Rice with lime and cilantroMy coworker recently came back from the southern California region. You know me, sure, I am curious about the waves and possibly the skate scene out there, but more so on the food. I know that fish tacos are the deal in that area, however this time he mentioned rice, and because I was on the path of making a killer burrito, I decided to match a rice that is similar to that in the Qdoba or Chipotle restaurants. Really simple recipe here as it involves a few ingredients which include:

  • 1 cup extra long grain rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbs of fresh, chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbs of fresh lime juice
  • small pinch of salt

I use a rice cooker, however if you do not have one of these, cook your rice as you normally would. I was horrible at cooking rice, until my wife, who grew up eating rice daily, stated one cup rice, to one cup water. It is also important to note to quickly rinse the rice with a small massage, however more important to not over rinse the rice. The rice cooker is great because once you add in the rice and water, you simply cover, and cook. The process takes less than twenty minutes.

When the cooker tells me it is done, I simply unplug the device, and fluff the rice with a rice paddle. I do this to release a lot of the contained steam and prevent any overcooking. Once the rice is cooked, let it cool for roughly thirty minutes before adding in the lime juice, cilantro, and salt.

Serve this as a side to your favorite meal, or heck, mix it in with black beans and a bit of your favorite salsa. Me? I fold mine into a killer burrito, or serve without the tortilla and eat with the carnitas, black beans, and guacamole.

Trust me, it is not only simple, but really good.

Carnitas

Carnitas Pulled PorkOver the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been making a slow cooked pork shoulder. This is not just your typical slow cooked, pulled pork, this my friends, is carnitas. Think of it as the mexican style pulled pork. Now I state ‘over the past couple of weeks’. Why? Because both my wife and I love it so much, it is hard to escape the thought. The beautiful thing is that once you are done braising the pork shoulder for roughly 4 hours, it gets pulled apart, and then cooked in an oven for nearly 15 minutes at 375 degrees. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, so lets get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6lb pork shoulder (whole, with fat trimmed)
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of salsa verde
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin Powder
  • Fresh Cilantro

Carnitas Pulled PorkFirst start by admiring your pork shoulder. It’s a thing of beauty is it not? Kidding aside, take the pork shoulder and season generously with salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. You can blend roughly 3 tsp of each into a small bowl, then rub into the meat if you want as well. Keep in mind that we are going to let this shoulder marinate and get happy in a ziplock bag overnight. Once the shoulder is seasoned, place in a large ziplock back, and add in the quartered onions to surround the meat.

The next day, give yourself nearly four hours to let this braise. This is a great Sunday meal, and awesome for leftovers. In a large pot, put in your shoulder, the onions that you had in the bag, and add to this the salsa verde and the chicken stock. Bring this up to a boil on medium-high heat, then cover, and reduce to a simmer for the remaining time.

Carnitas Pulled PorkCareful to remove the shoulder onto a cutting board. If this falls apart, get excited, as this is the beauty of the shoulder as well as the braising process. With two forks, pull the pork apart, and discard any of the strange fatty pieces that you might not want to eat.

Now, with your shredded pork, you can do a few things. Reserve some for barbecue sandwiches, or add it to a baking sheet and cook in the oven so it all gets a bit crispy. Welcome the carnita. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and cook for roughly 15 minutes. When you are ready, place the meat in fresh corn tortillas and make your favorite taco, or if you are wanting something even better, go for the chimichanga.

Watch for my post later in the week for the burrito that is seriously going to compete with Chipotle or Qdoba. It’s all good.

Bring on the Chimichanga

The ChimichangaWhatever restaurant we go to, my wife always, yes, always orders the chimichanga. For those of you reading and do not know what a chimichanga is, it is first and foremost a thing of beauty, and secondly it is a deep fried burrito that is wrapped and folded as to not allow the grease to enter the burrito. These chimichanga’s can be filled with whatever you like, however they are traditionally filled with beans, cheese, and shredded meat, and accompanied with guacamole, salads, rice, or a simple sauce.

I have been making the “chimi” since I found out the second time my wife and I ate at a restaurant that served mexican style food, that she ordered the chimi. It was my time to figure out how to make them, and make them better, creating my own restaurant inside my own kitchen.

I’m going to be honest with you, I have mastered the chimichanga, and they are worth every minute of making. In years past, I have filled my chimi’s with cooked, shredded chicken, cheese, and refried beans, however this past Sunday, I took the day to make carnitas (slow cooked pork shoulder, shredded, then cooked to a bit of crisp for twenty minutes in the oven (trust me, carnitas is where it is at)).

Ingredients:

  • Large flour tortillas
  • Canola or vegetable oil for cooking, approximately 48 oz.
  • Cooked and shredded meat (chicken, pork, beef; recommended carnitas)
  • Shredded cheese to your liking (I use a marble blend)
  • Large can of cooked, refried beans

The ChimichangaHeat your deep fryer, or large, and deep enough pot to hold the oil, leaving plenty of room at the top. While the oil is heating on medium-to-high heat for nearly 10-15 minutes, begin getting all of your items together. This is a bit of an assembly process. Have your bowl of cooked beans, cheese, and meat ready.

I heat my large tortillas individually in a microwave oven for nearly 20 seconds. You do not want to over heat the tortillas, but you want them to be flexible. Have you been to Qdoba or Chipolte and watched them wrap your burrito? It is kind of like that, but not so big, and we will deep fry them. 🙂

Lay out your tortilla, and with a flat spoon, lightly lay on the beans, keeping in mind that this is the glue to seal the chimi. Then near the lower half, add your meat and cheese. Fold over the bottom, towards the middle, then take the sides and wrap them in. This is the tricky part, as you want to get the folds to seal tightly as you will not want the grease to not only unseal your masterpiece, but to get inside. Rumor has it you can use toothpicks to seal it as well, but hey, who needs toothpicks?

The ChimichangaContinue this process in order to fulfill your chimi graving. I believe I wrapped nearly ten of them, frying all of them. For the ones you want to freeze, let them completely cool, then you can either use your foodsaver device, or wrap in foil, then in a ziplock bag. When you are ready to reheat, simply take them out, and cook in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

The oil should be ready, so carefully place them in the oil and cook until golden brown. Place them in a paper towel lined strainer to soak up any of the remaining oil.

Trust me folks, this is a must make. It might be trial and error the first time around, however once you got it down, seriously, you will be in food heaven.

My Greek Chicken with Balti Potatoes

Greek ChickenAny time I am making chicken, it is typically a whole chicken, slow roasted. I typically go a traditional route, where I pat the chicken with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper, and possibly garlic powder, or onion powder. I often stuff the bird with a halved onion as well as a halved orange. Heck, while I am at it, I sometimes add sliced bacon on top of the chicken to add to the browning and crispness of the skin, as well as making a good flavor if I make a gravy for potatoes. This time around I took a different approach, only due to the fact that I wanted to do something different with my potatoes. These recipes are extremely easy to make, and was a really good comfort food in the sense of smell, taste, and warmth.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Greek ChickenPlace the chicken in a large ziplock bag. In the meantime, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and whisk in the olive oil. This will be the marinade for your chicken. Add the marinade to the chicken, massaging the bird in the bag to get all of the great flavors from the garlic, lemon, and olive oil. Seal and let marinade for 3-24 hours. When you are ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken on a roasting rack inside a pan and cook for nearly one and half hours. I basically cook mine until it is golden brown and the skin is crisp. I guess after cooking so many, you just know when it is done.

While the chicken is cooking, begin working on your potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 4 potatoes, quartered, then cut into large chunks
  • 1 8oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion, quartered, then cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbs of Balti seasoning

Balti PotatoesCombine all of the above ingredients in a casserole dish. Cover and place in the oven for one hour and thirty minutes.

I plated the whole chicken with the potatoes around the perimeter and presented it family style, as it was a family meal. Everyone enjoyed it. The chicken had great flavor, and the balti seasoning was out of this world. For a great leftover, have the potatoes with breakfast. We are making chicken salad sandwiches with the leftover meat, with a different take on my foccacia bread. Enjoy.