It all started last Thursday when I was running errands for work. It was cold, windy, and a little rainy. Of course, having packed my clothes a day earlier, I just happened to be wearing a dress and had no jacket. My coworker lent me his, and I walked 5 long blocks to the Secretary of State’s office. It’s on the side of the State Capitol where I used to intern, and I spotted a couple of my old lunch spots: the convenience store, the bakery-cafe, and…*sniff* what’s that over there?
It was the old greasy Mexican joint. The place that sells ginormous lunch plates packed with rice, beans, and meat for $6. Here I was, at 10:30am, smelling carnitas and refried beans…and I wanted it.
But, being in the midst of trying to shed all the Cuervo & Shock Top weight I had gained the weekend before at Alumni Weekend in Santa Barbara, I thought better. You will make it yourself this weekend, I reassured myself. Then, I saw this intimidatingly large horde of moms with giant strollers and practically ran back to my office.
Anyway, back to Cinco de Mayo. I waited until Saturday to indulge in a Mexican feast, and man was it worth it. First up, I used the recipe for Beer Carnitas from How Sweet Eats:
After a quick sear, the pork shoulder goes into the crock pot with everything you see here. How Sweet’s Jessica used a 5 lb pork shoulder and cooked it on low for 10-12 hours…Mine was only about 3 lbs, and I trimmed off a lot because it was pretty fatty. I cooked it on high for about 5 hours.
After shredding, let it sit for a while. I put a lot more beer in than I should have, so I ended up having to ladle a little bit of the juices out at this point. It was still so easy to make and the crew (my parents, brother, boyfriend, and our friend Matt) all enjoyed it!
Next, I made Tomatillo Salsa. This one I did on my own! Here is an approximation of what I used to make about 1 cup of salsa.
3 tomatillos, leaves removed and thoroughly washed
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
water, if needed
All you do is roast everything up until charred, add some lime juice and salt, then blend it together. Next time, I will probably saute the onions and garlic instead of roasting them. You can also choose to add some sugar if the salsa is too tart for your liking!
The next (and final) project of the day was Refried Black Beans from Yes, I Want Cake. The recipe calls for epazote, which I am not familiar with and forgot to look for at the store. SO I went with the trusted bay leaf for a little bit of added flavor.
Instead of using fresh beans, I drained a can of reduced-sodium black beans, added fresh water, and steeped it with onions, smashed garlic cloves, large slices of jalapeno, and the bay leaf.
I left in the jalapenos (seeds and all) before blending, which I was super happy about, but if you can’t handle spicy food well, I’d advise you to take them out! This was probably my favorite part of the meal, but I really love spicy things.
Along with these 3 dishes, I put out homemade pico de gallo & shredded cheese, baked some corn tortillas into tostada shells (all it took was a little bit of canola oil cooking spray!), and we had a Cinco de Mayo assembly line that disappeared in less than 30 minutes!
And then I drowned myself in tequila.