I have to say that I’ve been annoyed by the food that is called authentic Mexican today. I grew up in California and my mom grew up with Mexicans. However, she never thought much of Tex-Mex cuisine, even though she was born and raised in Texas. Her Mexican food was the food of working class Mexicans; not fancy but plain, good tasting and filling, a cuisine that was based on both the availability and affordability of the ingredients; flour, corn, beans, cheap cuts of meat and of course herbs and spices.
I feel like beating myself up because in my youth I made Mexican food often and automatically, not needing a recipe, but following in my mother’s footsteps. Unfortunately, mindsnatched by other cuisines, I made Mexican food and the foods of my childhood less often and have forgotten the way of making many things, obliged to go to my ancient cookbooks for hints. Still, I know good Mexican food when I taste it!
It is difficult to find Mexican chillies here so I substitute with whatever I can find and that is usually Asian chillies. The above are from Cambodia and I call them “Apocalypse Now” chillies. One in a bowl of chunky guacamole is interesting, two are eyepopping and three are for Thai people or others who “love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
I used a pork belly that I found in the freezer to make the carnitas but a pork shoulder or whatever would work as well, as long as there is some fat content. Of course the belly cooked faster. The spices you use in the preparation of the carnitas are really important.
Old School Carnitas
1 pork belly, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
Water to cover
Warm flour tortillas
Chunky, spicy guacamole with tomatoes
Mix the pork belly, onion, garlic, salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon together. Refrigerate overnight.
Place the pork belly mixture in a heavy pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour until all water has evaporated. Fry the meat in the fat residue until brown.
To assemble: Place some carnitas in a warm tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and add some guacamole. Roll or fold and eat immediately.
Wine suggestion: Cote du Rhone