Bear Carnitas

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Yes, you read that correctly. My son was gifted with some bear meat, so I volunteered to cook it for him (none of us had tried it). My mind usually goes to Mexican when I think of cooking meat and I was really leaning toward carne asada or colorado but I wanted to be able to taste the meat. So, I settled on this simple already-loved recipe.

Here’s the link (for those who do not know, if I post a recipe, I only post the ingredients. You have to visit the link to read their instructions).

http://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/michoacan-style-pork-carnitas/

  • 18 pounds bone-in pork shoulder (skin-on picnic shoulder is a good choice, too), cut into 2-pound chunks
  • 1/2cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2cup salt
  • About 4 gallons lard or vegetable oil
  • If using vegetable oil: 1pound piece of slab bacon, cut it into 6 or 8 pieces

First: I did not have 18 pounds of bear meat. I had maybe two. So, all quantities were adjusted accordingly (just sprinkled with salt). Second: I used lemon juice because that’s what I had. I also cooked it in beef fat (with about a cup of bacon grease) because I just rendered a bunch a few months ago. Third: I used my crock pot on high for the first step of cooking. For the final step, I got lazy and just tossed the meat under the broiler to crisp up.

I let the meat cook in the crock pot for about 5 hours, until the meat broke apart with a little force. I drained it on paper towels, transferred it to an old pie pan and threw it under the broiler for a few minutes.

I was surprised by the flavor! Hank Shaw described bear’s flavor as beefy pork or porky beef and he was right! I love it! I did not add any other seasoning to this meat and it’s perfect. So, If I could eat all of this (it’s going home with my son after he gets off work), it would be in a bowl with grated cheese, salsa, diced onion, cilantro (see? Fruit AND vegetables), and sour cream.

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Product Review – Lowrey’s Bacon Curls

LOOK! Low Carb Food Storage Item! These are so tasty!

My Atkins Keto Journey

My mom is a Dollar Store fanatic.  She’s always shopping at this one or that one and gets all excited when a new one shows up.  We eat very specific foods (as you can imagine) so I don’t really shop at those stores (if we ate nothing but cereal and crackers, we’d save tons of money at those stores).  Anyway, she insisted I try Dollar General (a whole mess of them have popped up all over town).  So I went and look what I found!  I had no idea these things even existed!  It’s pork rinds that you cook in the microwave, like pop corn.  For $1/bag, it couldn’t hurt to try one.

So, after sitting there for about a week, hubby decides it’s time to try them.  He puts it in the microwave (which has always been too small for all things cooked in bags like this) and they…

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Carnitas

I can’t believe I had not posted my Carnitas recipe before. You have to try it!

My Atkins Keto Journey

Is it my imagination or am I wrong? I could have sworn I posted how I make carnitas! I searched and searched both blogs (and Lord knows it is like pulling teeth to find anything on Facebook if you posted something more than a week ago) and I can’t find it. I’m shocked! Well, here it is. I originally was making it closer to original (frying the meat in lard first) but one of hubby’s co-workers said we were working too hard. So, now this is how I make carnitas. I make up a whole bunch and, if we don’t eat it all within a couple of meals, I throw the excess in the freezer (if it’s a lot, I portion them out in sandwich bags then store those in a freezer bag).

  • Pork Butt roast
  • Chicken broth
  • Maybe salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Remove…

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Green Chile Chorizo

We used to eat store-bought standard Mexican chorizo until something in it stopped agreeing with us.  Well, I just stumbled on this recipe for Green Chorizo that looks fantastic!

Green Chile Chorizo

Please go to the above link for directions and video:

1 large fresh poblano chile
1 or 2 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium bunch of cilantro, tough lower stems cut off, the leafy part roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground pork (you’ll need pork that’s a little fatty – 25 to 30% – and preferably coarsely ground)
3 tablespoons spinach powder (available on the internet)
2 teaspoons salt

Tortillas

Well, I saw a web page with instructions on how to make “30 second bread”.  I read it several times because it was being touted as the perfect ‘survival’ bread … it was tortillas (but that’s not what they called it … anywhere).  I thought, well, I have the directions for tortillas on my blog!  They could have just looked there … but I don’t (I will now)!

Tortillas … I’ll be completely honest.  I have the directions to make corn tortillas.  I made them once, and they tasted like mashed cornmeal mush, fried.  Nothing like the tortillas in the store.  I think I was using the wrong kind of masa.  I was thinking today (I know, shocker) that the method for making corn tortillas can be used for any grain flour.  You don’t rely on gluten in any way.  Anyway, here are the recipes for both flour and corn tortillas.

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These are adapted from The Border Cookbook:

Sonoran Flour Tortillas

Makes ten 8-inch, eight 10-inch, or six 12-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups high-gluten bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (NO!  Use lard … they aren’t the same without animal fat)
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Stir together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  With your fingertips, mix in the shortening (LARD *grin*).  Add the water, working the liquid into the dough until a sticky ball forms (Kitchenaid with a dough hook works wonders).

Dust a counter or pastry board with flour and knead the dough vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.  The mixture should be soft but no longer sticky.  Let the dough rest, covered with a damp cloth, for about 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls, cover them again with the damp cloth, and let them rest for at least 45 minutes longer (this is to allow the gluten to form … if you don’t have the time, it won’t hurt them too much).  If not for use immediately, the dough can be greased lightly and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.  Bring the dough back to room temperature before proceeding.

Lightly flour your counter or pastry board.  Flatten a ball with your hand, then roll the dough from the center outward, turn the tortilla a few inches and roll again, attempting to keep the growing circle even.  Roll out the dough into a circle as thin as possible, preferably 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick.  They don’t have to be perfectly round … just make sure you do not have any folds.

Heat a dry griddle or large, heavy skillet over high heat.  Cook each tortilla 10 seconds on each side, then continue flipping (about 10 seconds on each side) until the dough looks slightly dry and wrinkled with a few brown speckles on the surface.  It helps to use a cloth or paper towel to pop any air bubbles that form but be careful … that steam is HOT!

Place cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until you are finished cooking.  Once cool, you can put them into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and place in the fridge (if you do this while they are still warm, the steam will cause them to become mushy, and nothing’s worse than a mushy tortilla).  I don’t know how long these will last … they are so good, they are gone in no time!

To see how it’s done (none of the videos I found are the same recipe), here’s a great video:
How To Make Tortillas de Harina (flour tortillas)
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Corn Tortillas

Makes twelve 5-inch or 6-inch tortillas

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water, or more as needed

There are two types available in the stores.  One is for tamales, the other is for tortillas.  The difference is the grind.  The masa harina for tortillas is a fine flour, the tamale one is courser but not as course as corn meal.  For authentic tortillas, you cannot use corn flour.  Masa harina is made by taking the dried corn and soaking it in a water/lime solution (to read more about this, go here: What is Masa Harina?).  For any other grain, just grind to a fine flour.

Heat a dry griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients with a sturdy spoon or your hands until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.  The dough should be quite moist but hold its shape.  Add a little more water or masa harina, if needed, to achieve the proper consistency.

Form the dough into 12 balls approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cover the balls with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  If any of the balls do dry out before cooking, knead more water into them.  Unlike the dough for flour tortillas, this dough can be reworked.

Place one ball of dough in a tortilla press between the two sheets of plastic that are sometimes sold with the tortillas press or two a 1 gallon freezer bag, cut into two sections.  If you don’t have a tortilla press, you can either roll each ball between two sheets of waxed paper or press between two sheets of waxed paper with a heavy, flat bottomed pot (my pressure canner worked great for this). Flatten to about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully pull the plastic from the tortilla and lay on the hot griddle or skillet.

Cook for 30 seconds, flip over and cook about another minute, flip and cook the first side an additional 30 seconds.  Place the cooked tortillas between two cloth towels until all tortillas are cooked.  Store as above (once cooled, place in a gallon Ziploc bag and store in fridge).

Here’s a video for making corn tortillas (these videos are to show the techniques):
Making Tortillas in Puebla, Mexico

Some Great Links

I have about 30 tabs open, trying to remember to post information (or save recipes) so here are some of the links:

Great Low Carb recipes

http://www.sugarfreesheila.com/RecipesPage.html

Here are some Diet/Low Carb recipes

http://whatscookingamerica.net/RecipeIndexDiet.htm

This one especially spoke to me (*grin*):

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/MochaShake.htm

Check out these Southwestern Recipes:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/RecipeIndex_Southwest.htm

My Whole Foods Kitchen.com (I love this site and all her videos on You Tube):

http://3dhealth.net/

Here’s one that has Old Recipe Books:

http://oldrecipebook.com/

And, thanks to Anthony Bourdain (“No Reservations”), here where you can order the book “Foods of the Azores Islands”:

http://foodsoftheazoresislands.com/

Ma’s Tortilla Soup

Last (but not least) for today: My mom’s tortilla soup.  This is so easy, inexpensive, and could be healthy (but wouldn’t be the same *grin*).  I have tried using store bought tortilla chips (both regular and baked) but they turn to mush too quickly.

Ma’s Tortilla Soup

  • 6 (or more) Corn Tortillas, cut into 8 triangles each
  • Oil
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed Vegetable Beef soup (or your favorite vegetable beef soup … especially good with homemade vegetable beef or chicken soup)
  • 2 cans water
  • 1 cube chicken or beef bouillion (or 1 teaspoon soup base)
  • Grated cheese (we use a mix of Cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • Flour tortillas (enough for 2 per person)

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In a sauce pan or pot, pour the soup and water.  Heat on medium.  Mix in bouillon (or soup base).  Continue to heat while you make the tortilla chips.

Heat about 1-inch of oil in a frying pan on medium.  When the oil is hot enough (it looks like it’s swirling and when you put a piece of tortilla into the oil, it immediately begins to cook), fry the tortilla triangles.  Do not over crowd the pan or the chips will not cook evenly (easier way?  Use a deep fat fryer).  Place 2 or 3 paper towels in a deep bowl, and place your cooked chips in the bowl to drain (salt now, if you wish, before they get cold).  Heat the flour tortillas.

Place the desired amount of tortilla chips in each bowl.  Pour soup over chips.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Serve flour tortillas on the side (for dipping).

That’s it!  This recipe is so adaptable for any palette.  Vegans can use just vegetable soup and vegan cheese.  You can put salsa and sour cream on top of the cheese.  You can pour less broth into each bowl so it’s more like nachos.  This is especially good with chopped green onions sprinkled on top, also!

Hubby’s Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

I wrote up this recipe for my sister. She said it was WAY too much work! LOL!

What we do is make up the meat, make however many tacos we want, then throw the rest of the meat in the freezer. Makes taco-making much easier!

Hubby’s Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 (or 2) package taco seasoning
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Oil
  • 20 (about) corn tortillas
  • Grated cheese (we use the finely grated cheese blend from Costco)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded Lettuce, tomatoes, whatever you want to top the tacos with.

Equipment:

  • Stock Pot
  • Large Colander
  • Large Bowl (use your popcorn bowl 🙂 )
  • Tongs
  • Plate with paper towels to drain the tortillas
  • Pans to bake the tacos in (probably the equivalent of 2 – 3 13X9 baking pans)

Throw a chicken (with the innards removed) into a pot, cover with water, and boil until it’s done (you will know, it will look bloated and the legs will pull away from the body). Pull it out of the water and place it in a colander to drain and cool (if you want to make your own chicken broth or soup, set the chicken water aside … I’ll tell you how to do that after explaining tacos).

Once cool, remove all the meat from the bone and shred (two faster ways are to 1. Use canned chicken or 2. Just boil chicken breasts). Once removed, mix taco seasoning into the chicken meat. How much? I really don’t know. I add some, then taste. If you are using taco seasoning packets, probably no more than one packet (but taste first … remember there’s a lot of salt in there). Mix in onions. Set the meat aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Now for the time consuming part: Put about 1-inch of oil in a frying pan. Heat on medium (it’s the right temperature when you put a piece of tortilla in the pan and it does not sink). Slide a tortilla into the oil. Count to 3, flip the tortilla, count to 3, remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with rest of tortillas. You only want to cook the tortilla just enough so it is soft (not hard at all).

Time to make the tacos. Place a tortilla in your baking dish, add seasoned chicken, then cheese. Move on to the next taco. Continue until you have used all the chicken. You may have some extra tortillas. Just sprinkle some salt on those and eat them! 🙂

Bake until the top of the tacos are brown and crispy. Remove from oven, put the lettuce in the taco, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and you are done! Serve with Spanish rice (Patrick makes the best Spanish rice but I still can’t make it right. Your best bet is to look on-line for a recipe. I’ll try to get him to write down how he makes it).

So, this is how we make enough to feed me, hubby, my son, and my mom. Hubby just pointed out (duh) that you could just make however many tacos you want then freeze the chicken meat for another day.

If you want to do enchiladas, do everything except the instructions on assembling the tacos. Pour a large can of enchilada sauce in a bowl. Dip a tortilla in the enchilada sauce, place in baking dish, put chicken and a little cheese in the center of the tortilla, roll and place the seam down. Repeat with rest of chicken. Pour remainder of sauce over enchiladas, sprinkle grated cheese over the top (however much you want), and bake until all the cheese is melted and a little crispy on the edges. That’s it! You can freeze one pan of enchiladas before cooking. They keep in our freezer for about 6 months. Just cover the pan first with plastic wrap and foil.

Mexican Gravy

We had an inexpensive Christmas dinner this year.  I made this recipe, then added about 2 cups of mashed beans to thicken.  Put in a bowl, sprinkle with cheese, use as a dip, and you almost have a complete meal!  We also had beans and home made rotisserie chicken.

http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2007/01/essence-of-tex-mex.html

Chili Gravy (from Robb Walsh)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp powdered garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (Mexican oregano is preferred if it’s available)
  • 2 T chile powder (either homemade or a dark brand such as Gebhardt’s or Whole Foods)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or water)

Method:

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it makes a light brown roux.

Add all the dry ingredients and continue to cook for 1 minute, constantly stirring and blending ingredients. Add chicken broth or water, mixing and stirring until the sauce thickens.

Turn heat to low and let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add water to adjust the thickness.

Makes 2 cups.

Oat Bread, Meatloaf, and New Mexico Chile Verde

I have been so busy with playing Call of Duty Black Ops that I keep forgetting to post some of my latest concoctions! 🙂

While I love specialty breads (I still haven’t found a good-enough-for-me recipe for jalapeño cheese bread) I have been wanting to find a good every day bread and I think I found it! Why do I like this recipe so much? Well, this is the first one I found without brown sugar, honey, or molasses. Also, it’s not too dense but heavy enough to not break apart when spreading natural peanut butter on it. This makes fantastic sandwiches, toast, french toast, etc.

Oat Bread

I would post the recipe web page but I can’t find the link to it!)

  • 5 3/4 – 6 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 pkg. dry active yeast
  • 2 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 1/4 c. milk (I used buttermilk)
  • 1/4 c. butter

Combine 3 cups flour, oats, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and mix well.

In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (just until butter is melted). Add to flour mixture and blend on low speed of mixer until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the medium speed and beat for 3 minutes (I did this by hand and it was not fun).

By hand, stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour for about 5 to 8 minutes.

Shape into ball, cover with bowl (or in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled (about an hour). Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled (recipe said 15 minutes but I let it go for 30).

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until dark golden brown. Remove from pans and let cool before slicing (which I can never do!).

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Now, meatloaf. Hubby has hated meatloaf all his life but I was getting pretty desperate trying to find inexpensive recipes. I figured he could suffer this once (actually, with my cooking he suffers more than that!). I was reading through my cookbooks and found in one (Loyalty Cook Book – Native Daughters of the Golden West, published in 1953) a tip for leftover stuffing: use it to replace breadcrumbs (or crackers) in meatloaf! I made a basic meatloaf (yes, I used an actual recipe for this because it’s been so long that I knew it would either end up too dry or too wet if I went by memory) with the leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving and it was a hit! Hubby actually had seconds AND we ate the rest for sandwiches! It was moist and actually tasted better cold (unless it’s because I prefer meatloaf sandwiches anyway).

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Last (but not least) was dinner last night. I found a recipe in another cookbook (The Border Cookbook) that was similar to this one but I did it the lazy way. I just added a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and a 28 ounce can of diced Ortega chiles. I also let it cook for 6 hours. Served with rice and heated flour tortillas, this was a fantastic meal!

http://www.simply-best-recipes.com/recipes-beef-pork-dishes.html

Chile Verde (Green Chile and Pork Stew)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, pork butt, or boneless pork ribs – cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4-6 jalapeño peppers or 4 Anaheim or New Mexico chiles fresh, (green)
  • 1-2 (8-oz) cans whole tomatoes, crushed (use 2nd can if stew is too spicy!)
  • 1-2 cups water or chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Spices: oregano, cumin (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped – for garnish

Toast chiles in a cast-iron skillet or comal (Mexican griddle); until blackened. Wrap in damp paper towel and place in plastic bag for about 20 minutes to steam. Peel off blackened skin and remove stems and seeds. Chop all chiles. If you prefer your Chile milder, you can use cans of chopped chiles.

Crush tomatoes.

If using pork shoulder, remove fat from shoulder and chop into small pieces. Render fat in large pot and then remove fat pieces. If you don’t use the pork fat, use 2 tablespoons oil or lard. Heat over medium-high heat and brown pork pieces well. Don’t crowd pot; brown in batches, if needed.

Add the onions and garlic and stir well, cooking until onions are soft. Add the chopped chiles, spices (if using) and crushed tomatoes. Stir well and cook for about 2 minutes until well-blended. Add water or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 1-½ to 2 hours until pork is very tender. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Serve with rice and beans, and warm soft tortillas.