If you need a party idea (or just another great dinner idea), my new friend Kelley has an answer for you. I helped her throw a small gathering recently and was truly amazed at how easily this menu goes together.
In addition to Kelley's Pork Carnitas, the menu calls for small flour tortillas, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo or salsa of choice, queso fresco, black beans, lime-cilantro rice, and sangria.
Start the pork early in the morning, and then there's only a little prep to do just before serving. Meanwhile, the pork smells simply amazing as it simmers in the slow cooker, and as your guests arrive, they'll think you've been slaving all day.
Carnitas are traditionally a big pork roast that is caramelized and then braised. But that's a whole lot of work and hands-on time. Kelley's adaptation is brilliant.
She lets the slow cooker do the braising and then gives the shredded pork a quick saute in oil before serving. You can serve this menu as a buffet and let everyone build his or her own plate.
For her lime-cilantro rice, Kelley cooks jasmine rice according to the package directions, squeezes a little fresh lime juice over it, and tosses in some chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
Black beans can be seasoned or plain, because there are already so many flavors in the rest of the menu.
Finally, purchase some guacamole, or go to KitchenScoop.com for an authentic recipe from my friend Petra, who lives in Reynosa, Mexico. Of course, our terrific sangria is also found on the Web site.
It's a party in no time at all!
Contact Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelley's Pork Carnitas
Start to finish: five minutes prep, plus eight hours unattended in a slow cooker and 10 minutes to finish
4 pounds pork-loin roast
1 1/2 cups bottled tomatillo salsa (see Cook's note), plus additional sauce for passing at the table
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cook's note: Tomatillo salsa is also referred to as "green salsa" and can be found in the supermarket alongside other Mexican condiments.
Trim the excess fat from the pork and cut the roast in half. Fit the pieces side by side in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour the tomatillo sauce over the pork and cover the crock. Cook on low heat for eight to 10 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 160 F.
With the pork still in the crock, use two forks to pull the meat into shreds. (The meat should be very tender, so this will be easy to do.)
Just before serving, heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Working in batches, transfer the shredded pork to the skillet and stir and cook until the edges of the pork start to "caramelize." Serve at once with additional sauce passed at the table, if desired.
Yield: 12 servings
Approximate values per serving: 169 calories (29 percent from fat), 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 78 mg cholesterol, 28 g protein, 1.5 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, 168 mg sodium.