mead

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Remember back in February when I visited one of my favorite Missouri wineries? No worries if you don’t, here’s a flashback to that wino field trip. While I was on that trip, if you will walk down memory lane with me, I picked up this little beauty:

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When I tasted this guy and his spicy sweetness, I knew I needed to cook something with him. I thought about it for awhile, ultimately going back and forth between carnitas or chicken wings. Obviously I chose the carnitas, but I still think chicken wings would be really good too. Unfortunately, the mead is gone so another field trip may be in order…

Many of the existing carnitas recipes I ran across were crock-pot carnitas. I’ve made crock-pot carnitas before, and they were fine, but for this recipe I decided to use my Dutch oven. It’s a lovely 8 qt. Martha Stewart in bright orange that coordinates nicely with my vintage LeCreuset stuff, and I use it a ton.

Making carnitas can be a little time-consuming, but the finished product is well worth it. In fact, the finished product is so tasty (not to toot my own horn, but TOOT!) it may be gone in a shorter time than it took you to make them. That’s what happened at my house. I only managed to get ONE photo before they were descended upon by my teens…

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • pork shoulder roast (the one I used was about 5 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 large onion, cut into big chunks (eighths)
  • 1 1/2 tsp regular Adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • one navel orange
  • 1 bottle Windy Wine Company Chipotle Mead

Instructions:

  1. Adjust your oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300F.
  2. All your ingredients will go into the Dutch oven. I like to leave any fat on the roast & trim it off after cooking to add moisture and flavor. Even the orange peels will cook with the roast & impart their citrus notes. Pour the mead over top of all the ingredients.
  3. On the stovetop, bring Dutch oven to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Once a simmer is reached, cover the pot & transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 2-3 hours until the meat is falling apart.
  4. Allow to cool several hours, or ideally, overnight.
  5. Once cooled, you can remove the meat from the pot and begin to separate it, removing the fat & any bones or connective tissue (a shoulder will have 1 small bone). I like to do this with my hands, so I can feel the fat, meat, connective tissue etc easily.
  6. While you are separating the meat, remove the onions, and orange halves from the pot, leaving only cooking liquid behind. Reduce this liquid over high heat until thick and syrupy. It will take about 20 mins for the liquid to reduce.
  7. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces (think pulled pork) and spread evenly on a baking sheet covered with foil.
  8. Pour 4-5 ladles of reduced cooking liquid over the meat.
  9. Bake in a 300F oven for about 15 mins or until browned and a little crispy on the edges. Move meat around and flip during cooking as needed, usually every 3-5 mins.
  10. Serve on warm corn tortillas, with desired accoutrements such as avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.

Play-date Wednesday

For a few weeks now I’ve had a play-date planned with my friend & co-worker. We work together for a small company, so if we want to go somewhere together a little planning is in order. Back in August, I went & checked out Windy Wine Co. It’s a cool little spot about an hour away where they’re making some very cool, outside-the-box wines and meads. Recently, I was able to hit it up again; the line-up has changed & evolved seasonally (which is often apt to happen with smaller wineries) & I was able to taste some of the same wines I tasted last time, and I few new (to me) ones. On my last visit, I met Kraig, the vintner, very briefly. This time he did our tasting & we were able to talk about wine-drinking, wine-making, wine fests, mutual friends and acquaintances, and Dr Who.

We sampled the full line-up, which amounted to more than a dozen wines. Here are my picks from this visit:

Apple Wine

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Windy’s Apple Wine had a lovely clean, slightly tart flavor with just enough sweetness. It’s made with locally grown Gala & Jonathan apples (my 2 faves), and has some very subtle woodiness. Reminded me of sitting in a tree on an Autumn day eating apples straight off the branch.

Blushing Mallard

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Blushing Mallard was another outside-the-box offering from Kraig. It’s made from local Norton grapes, which are not typically my favorite. I shouldn’t say this too loudly while in Missouri, since Norton is their state grape and has something of a cult following. However, instead of the typical spiciness and heavy tannins you usually find in a Norton, it’s much fruitier with an “untamed” wild cherry note (see what I did there?) starting in the middle and going all the way until the end. They recommend it with wild duck, but it would stand up beside any wild game. ¬†Very tasty.

Chipotle Mead

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This guy was my winner of the day, surprisingly. I am not a huge mead drinker, I don’t go out in search of mead, although I know that plenty of folks do. This one is pretty unique, there are 3 layers of flavor here. At the back you have an earthy note, from the honey, then the expected sweetness and thickness coating your mouth & tongue, then on the end the deep, spicy chipotle. I definitely bought this with the intention of cooking with it, but I’m still trying to decide whether I want to slow-cook some chicken or pork, or maybe make some jelly. Or both. That will be coming up soon, so stay tuned.

After we got done at Windy, we ended up stumbling onto a nice little Greek joint I found on UrbanSpoon, Gyro Paradise in St Joseph, MO (the birthplace of Eminem incidentally). We had some yummy lamb gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel. The nice young guy at the counter even let us taste the baba ganoush and a few other items. Prices were great, staff was great, food was tasty. Will definitely be back the next time I’m in the neighborhood. It’s a little hard to schedule my wino/foodie field trips in my line of work, but I already have a few ideas for my next one, so this will definitely not be my last.