Carnitas in CVap®

events carnitas
events carnitas

I love food, and I mean all types of food! My absolute favorite style of cuisine is Hispanic – more specifically, Mexican, with its wealth of tradition and depth of flavors. What’s not to love? I have a group of friends I meet every Sunday at our local On the Border for lunch and a margarita or three (if I’m being honest, the food is decent, but the margaritas are the real draw!). I decided to mix it up one Sunday and order one of my favorite traditional Mexican dishes: carnitas.

They were less than spectacular, and I asked my friend Sergio why he thought they weren’t very good. He replied that too many people really only want fajitas on the hot plate, and this restaurant’s preparation just wasn’t traditional. To be fair, one look around the room proved that he was right. It looked like a sauna with the steam rising from every table. I was a victim of demand.

carnitas ingredients

Let's Make Carnitas!

I wasn’t about to settle for this disappointment, however. Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cuisine and I mean, c’mon, it’s PORK! I decided to take matters into my own hands. There are many ways to prepare carnitas, but traditionally it is shoulder meat (or leftover parts of a butchered hog) slow braised for several hours in pork lard, confit style. Once the pork has broken down enough, it is taken out and either pulled apart or cut into cubes. It then goes back into the lard with the heat turned up, and is fried to add texture. There are many twists and variations of this dish, and the part of the country you are from usually defines what ingredients and flavors your carnitas might have. For this recipe, I’m combining the old with the new and adding a splash of CVap®.

Ingredients

2 Lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
2 small bay leaves
½ lime
1 cinnamon stick
½ orange
½ Mexican beer, preferably dark
Fresh cilantro
½ medium onio
2 Lbs. lard or cooking oil

Instructions

In a large vacuum or re-sealable bag, combine all ingredients.

Place bag in CVap Cook and Hold Oven at the settings below. Drink the other half of your Mexican beer!

carnitas in bag
carnitas in pan

Carnitas CVap Cook and Hold Oven Settings:

Legacy CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Doneness: 178
Browning: 0
Time: 8 hours

New CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Vapor Temp: 178°F
Air Temp: 178°F
Time: 8 hours

  1. Once the timer goes off, pull the bag out of the Cook and Hold oven and separate the pork cubes from the other ingredients.
  2. Place lard or oil in a fryer or large pot on the stove and set to 350°F (or medium-high heat). Drop the cubes into the oil and let fry until golden brown, about one minute.

Now comes the easy part: eat the carnitas! I usually enjoy them over a bed of rice and beans with a little salsa on top. I also like them in a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Then again, sometimes I just eat them right out of the pot because it’s fried pork and I’m impatient. There is no right or wrong here, just enjoy!

carnitas pork frying
carnitas meat

Banh Mi Sliders in CVap

Banh Mi Sliders are easy when you stage and hold them in CVap equipment. Staging can increase the speed of service without sacrificing quality! Most are familiar with the popular Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Below is the Winston recipe for this popular sandwich. The popularity of ethnic food is on the rise. We’re seeing more and more examples of these on menus everywhere. The fact that consumers are more open to new flavors and cuisines represents some great opportunities for the restaurant industry.

RECIPE: Banh Mi Sliders

Unlike traditional Banh Mi, we use pork and chicken in our sandwich recipes. Whether you chose to use one or the other or both proteins, you cannot go wrong with this version of a Vietnamese classic.

½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground chicken
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons chili sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

First, mix all the ingredients into a large bowl. Second, form the mixture into patties. Finally, refrigerate the patties until you are ready to stage them in CVap.

banh mi sliders

Advance Staging in CVap® Cook and Hold Oven

Banh Mi CVap Process

Preset a Cook and Hold unit to 165°F vapor/166°F air FOR 60 MINUTES and allow approximately 30 minutes to preheat.

  1. Remove patties from refrigerator, place in oven, and process for one hour and 35 minutes to reach a minimum temperature of 165°F.
  2. Patties can now be held and grilled or pan-seared for about one minute and 30 seconds and then served on French rolls with slaw (suggestion follows) or kimchi, or the patties can be quick-chilled and completed to order from a refrigerated state.

Either way, you choose to finish the patties, you have effectively eliminated over-cooking, and you are guaranteed a juicy, delicious Asian favorite in record time. Think of the possibilities for food truck production!

Slaw: we typically top our cooked Banh Mi sliders with a vibrant, crunchy combination of carrots, onions, cabbage, Sriracha, vinegar, and fresh cilantro.

Plating Perfect Pork Chops with CVap

One of the best things about CVap is having the ability to use it to handle precision cooking of center of the plate (COP) items without monitoring. You don’t even have to check on it. We got some beautiful Berkshire pork chops from Fossil Farms. They were brined in a 5% salt solution with honey and fresh thyme for two hours. The plan was to have the pork chops done and ready for plating later in the day. I set up my CVap Cook and Hold Oven to 145°F vapor and 145°F air. Once the oven came to temperature I seared the chops and placed them on a rack inside a hotel pan.

pork chops
seared pork chops
probing pork chop

The internal temperature of the chops after searing was 85° F.

Once all the chops were seared and in the pan, they were off to the oven.

more seared pork chops
pork chops in a pan

Sous Vide Pork Chops

With the CVap oven set to 145°F, all I had to do was wait for the moisture inside the chops to equalize with the moisture in the water pan. The differential was 0, so the air temperature was 145° as well. I was using a sous-vide method without putting the chops into a bag. Consequently, when the pan was pulled out of the CVap, all the chops were precisely 145°F.

The chops varied in thicknesses and weight, but all equalized to the temperature of the water inside the CVap. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the ability to do this with a large banquet where the party was delayed? When you use CVap to make your proteins this is a no-brainer.

Embracing the Flavors of the Cuban Sandwich

cut cuban sandwich

The Cuban sandwich has made its way onto menus across the country. It’s an iconic Florida favorite, with its origins in Cuban culture. Here is a simple version, with some added ingredients. We’ve added herbs to the marinade, which is optional.

When you order a Cuban sandwich, the meat can be dry and overcooked. Let’s face it, we are double-cooking a piece of pork; once in the oven and once on the panini press. Utilizing a CVap® Cook & Hold Oven to prepare the mojo pork makes it possible to cook to a specific temperature, without exceeding that temp.

Another great advantage to using a CVap Cook & Hold Oven is the High Yield option, because it will maintain the meat’s juiciness and maximize yield. In this case, we are using a piece of pork for the mojo that generally has low yield results. Because the oven calculates the best heat curve during the cook cycle, we can achieve the maximum number of servings from the pork. That translates to a couple of extra Cuban Sandwiches for you.

cuban sandwich

Mojo Pork Marinade Ingredients

  • 6 pounds, 2 pieces boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 each oranges, zested and juiced
  • 2 each lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 each limes, zested and juiced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch oregano, picked and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cumin, ground
  • 3 tablespoons salt, kosher
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper, ground

Sandwich Assembly Ingredients

Yield: 1 Sandwich

  • 1 each soft roll
  • About 4 ounces Cuban pork
  • 1 slice swiss cheese, sliced
  • 2 each dill pickles, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Method of Preparation

  1. Prepare citrus, herbs, and spices for the marinade.
  2. In a container or mixing bowl, combine marinade ingredients (except pork). Mix well.
  3. In two zip lock gallon bags, place the pork. Pour the marinade over the pork, equally.
  4. Refrigerator overnight.
  5. Preheat CVap Cook & Hold Oven to Constant Cook-Off, 180 F + 4 Browning, 4 Hours.
  6. Place the pork in a hotel pan with the marinade.
  7. Load the pork in the CVap and cook.
  8. Once the pork is cooked, place it in a refrigerator to cool; about three hours.
  9. Thinly slice the pork and reserve for assembly.

Assembly

  1. Preheat flat Panini press to 350°F.
  2. Slice the roll in half all the way through.
  3. Spread the mustard on one side of the bread.
  4. Top the mustard with sliced pork, pickles, cheese and other half of roll.
  5. Butter the Panini press and place sandwich on the press.
  6. Cook in the Panini press for 4-5 minutes. You will start to see the cheese melting off the sides and the bread should be nice and golden brown before removed.

ENJOY!