Last month we went to an event for the LA Food & Wine Festival at Paramount Studios and sampled some great food. One of the more ingenious offerings was a taco served on a thin slice of jicama. Jicama is a root vegetable with a unique sweet/peppery flavor, similar to a radish or a turnip. If you are cutting out carbs, it makes a crunchy alternative to tortillas.
Carnitas is made from richly marbled pork shoulder. It is braised for hours in milk and orange juice until the meat can be pulled apart with a fork, and then quickly caramelized as the liquid evaporates in the last step. Carnitas are traditionally paired with the bright flavors of cilantro, raw onions, and salsa. I made a red cabbage slaw from Bobby Flay and added some of the slow-roasted cherry tomatoes I made earlier in the week.
serves 3 or 4
1 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder
2 tblsp canola oil or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 orange, well washed
1/2 cup whole milk
about 1 cup water
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
For Red Cabbage Slaw:
juice of half an orange
juice of 2 limes
2 scallions, white and pale green part only, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 tblsp honey
salt and fresh cracked pepper
3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced thinly on a mandoline
1 large, round jicama, peeled and sliced to 1/4-inch thickness on a mandoline (put in a bowl with cold water in the fridge until ready to use. Dry on paper towels)
slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pork into 6 or 8 pieces. Trim off any pieces of pure fat. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Brown the meat on all sides.
2. Squeeze the orange over the meat and toss the rind into the pan. Pour the milk over the meat and add enough water to almost cover the meat. Sprinkle with some more pepper. Add the cinnamon stick. Cover tightly and bake for about 2 hours, until the meat is fork-tender.
3. To finish, uncover the meat and break into largish pieces. Remove the orange rind and cinnamon stick and discard. Roast, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes, until the meat is caramelized and crisp on the edges.
4. In the meantime, make the slaw. Combine all the ingredients besides the cabbage in a blender or food processor until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the vinaigrette. Taste for salt and pepper. Let sit for at least an hour.
5. To assemble the tacos, pull apart the pork with two forks. Place some on a jicama round. Top with slaw, guacamole, slow-roasted tomatoes and hot sauce. Serve with lime wedges.