Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tonight's Dinner - what's this called again?

I wanted to say I made carnitas, but that's really just the meat portion of it. So this is maybe a carnita casserole? Or an enchilada casserole with no enchilada sauce? Whatever it is, it made The Professor declare it was good. Since The Professor declares that Mexican food is the lowest on the food chain, I was completely blown away by how much he liked it.

It was kind of a long road to dinner, though, even though I pretty much knew what I was going to do before I started.

I started with a half of a roast (about 2 lb) that was in the freezer, wavering on the edge of being frost-bit. It needed help, ASAP.

The bottle of Jameson's is not intended for this recipe, but if you get the urge, feel free.

I started it's rehabilitation by putting it (after it thawed, duh) in my crock pot.

I dumped in a cup of salsa, a cup of pork stock (no beef in house at the moment, but a can of that would work) a teaspoon of garlic powder, another of ground cumin, a couple of dashes of Taco Bell hot sauce and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. I turned it on low and let it go for about 7 hours while I had a lazy Saturday full of much HGTV.

I was disappointed when it came out of the crock pot. I wanted meat so tender that it was falling apart. My meat was most definitely willing to stay together.

But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I persevered. I started shredding it with a couple of forks, pulling out any fat that I ran across.

I took half of the meat and put it in a bowl. Then I got a slotted spoon and started pulling out the solid leftovers from my crock pot (which I had left on while I worked on the meat, so that it might reduce a wee bit. It didn't). When I had about a tablespoon of juicy-tomato-y-salsa-y stuff in with the meat, I mixed it up to keep it from drying out.

Side note - I had also used 2 lonely avocados hanging out in my fridge to make a small batch of guacamole before I started shredding the meat.

Now, I needed some diced tomatoes and some shredded cheese. Cheddar would've been prettier, but I had mozzarella in the fridge. It's healthier, and cheaper. So, Mozzarella is what we use around here.

Now, it's assembly time!

The wine is also purely ornamental. How does all this alcohol keep finding its way into the pics?

I got out my 2 quart round casserole dish and put a soft taco on the bottom.
Spoon half of the meat mixture on top and spread it around, then top it with a handful of tomatoes and some cheese.

Cheese: God's gift to the faithful.

Then do another layer of soft taco, meat, tomatoes and cheese.

Then, just for fun, I did a layer that was just cheese and put another soft taco on top.

I went back to the crock pot and spooned up some more of that lovely liquid - I don't want to waste all of that hard work, after all. More cheese (can you ever really have enough?), another sprinkle of tomatoes, and it was ready for the oven.

After 20 minutes in the oven, I turned on the broiler to get the cheese a little brown and the tomatoes a little toasty.
Note to self: More tomatoes next time.

Half of it went on The Professor's plate (he was sniffing around, getting impatient at this point) with a spoonful of guacamole and another of sour cream.

It's a good thing guacamole tastes so good, cause its not a very photogenic individual.

I think some caramelized onions and maybe a pretty-colored bell pepper would've been awesome, and I'll have to try that next time. Tonight, I just opened a bottle of beer and now....well now, I have a very happy husband.

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