Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Carnitas for homesickness

As promised in my chocolate chip cookie post, I'd be focusing people pleasers - meat and chocolate. Here's the second installment...

It's spring break and it seems like everyone is on a fabulous vacation or at home. And I would have been happy with either. Most of the time I like living here and believe that I'm happier here than I would be in Minnesota, but the homesickness comes over me in waves, slowly and inevitably. What do I miss exactly? Clearly, my family and my best friend. But also intangible things like the comforts of home and its familiarity. That's not to say that the US and the UK are poles apart, but the tiny differences that I can't put my finger on exist. They accumulate. And they make me yearn for home.

Today I'm homesick. I just want to hang out with my niece (CHEEEEEKS), my sister, my mom. And have a carnitas burrito.

Soppiness aside, what do carnitas have to do with homesickness? I'm from Minnesota, I'm Asian ... how are tacos and burritos relevant? First, I'm not equipped to cook Laotian food - way too complicated and nothing in restaurants is as good as my mom's food (the fog of nostalgia inflates my love for it even more). The answer is that I really miss scarfing down a Chipotle burrito. I wish I could magically appear in Minnesota and spend a very uneventful day at home with my family and eating carnitas and larp gai. And maybe a visit to J Crew and Target too, because I'm apparently still a midwestern teenager?

Going home wasn't possible so I slow cooked 5 pounds of carnitas for a crowd with pico de gallo, guacamole (plus cheese, lettuce, sour cream, & jalapenos). They were delicious but not near as juicy or rich as Chipotle's. I may have given up on beef stews, but recreating Chipotle is a cause I'm committed to, heart and soul.

P.S. Did you know that a chain similar to Chipotle exists in the UK? It's called Pinto. I was SOOOOO excited to go and I was practically seizing with joy as I watched them make my burrito. It even looked similar-ish to Chipotle inside! And the burrito maker said Pinto it was just like Chipotle!

IT WAS A BIG FAT LIE. The meat was overcooked and dry, the guacamole had too much lime and tomato. The "mild" pico was so painful to eat. The burrito was anemic too.  Chipotle ones are 1.5x the size - you get so much more and BETTER food! The reviews and the burrito maker lied. I was duped. I felt heartbroken. Pinto SUCKS.


homesick texan carnitas, Smitten Kitchen
  • The meat, which was 2/3 more than the recipe, cooked down in just an hour! I refilled the water back up and let it cook down twice. That must have been why it wasn't really juicy?
Pico de gallo + guacamole, The Pioneer Woman
  • I would really recommend preparing at least the toppings ahead. This would have been much easier if I had done so, but I was so eager for carnitas tacos I didn't mind standing in the kitchen all afternoon. 

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