Sunday, March 8, 2009


Who doesn't love melt in your mouth Carnitas?  It's one of those things that I could literally eat until I exploded. But obviously the fat content of Carnitas is not really something to be proud of. And it's not like I have anything against fat -- I love fat -- it's just that it's really not good for you. So everything in moderation, right? But if you can't control yourself... like I can't be trusted to be left alone around a big pot of Carnitas, then you need to make a compromise. 

Hence the turkey Carnitas creation. 

I have a business I run from home, and a 2 year old, so I don't get to spend as much time in the kitchen lately as I'd like to. When I made this dish the first time, I made it with some frozen turkey hind quarters that I had in the freezer, and as if being frozen wasn't bad enough, I didn't even have time to thaw the turkey before popping it in the oven because it was a busy day and I was running out the door -- and I know this is going to sound crazy, but it came out better than when I use fresh (not frozen) turkey! It's true. Maybe by freezing the meat the tissues break down more and in the end it is more tender? I have no idea. I'm not a scientist. Just a girl who likes to cook. 

So for our small family of 3, I took 2 frozen turkey hind quarters, coated them with a drizzle of olive oil, and put them in a cast iron dutch oven.  A generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and into a 450 oven they go for 1 hour. 

The high heat really browns it up fast.  After the initial hour, remove from the oven and turn heat down to 350.

A smokey flavor really adds a lot to this, so there needs to be an element of smoke. And not liquid smoke because it's way too strong. In the past I have added a few pieces of smoked sausage, but today since I didn't have sausage, I added some of these unbelievable Boggy Creek smoke dried tomatoes.

Add 1 cup of dry white wine, your smokey element, and enough water to come up and cover the sides of the meat. 

I also add a few potatoes - not because they add anything to the dish, but potatoes roasted with meat are so good and I like to kill 2 birds with one stone and steal some of the meat's flavor while cooking -- then I use the potatoes later for a great mashed potato or even let them cool and do roasted potato salad. 

But anyway...

Add one or 2 pieces of bacon for more smokey flavor and FAT, since turkey is so lean. Then back into the now 350 oven for another 3 hours, covered. Just set it and forget it.

You can't argue with me that this looks tempting! It's so dang good.  Now, you can shred the meat and eat as-is with fresh tortillas, or over rice, or however you like. Those who like the crispy edges of traditional Carnitas (like me!) just give it a quick saute in a hot pan with some oil to lightly crisp the edges. No big.