by Tammy Taylor~
I hate food waste. Now I’m sure we ALL hate food waste, but for some reason it’s a deep-seated hatred for me. I’m not sure where such strong feelings originate – I never recall going hungry a day in my life. But for some reason I simply cannot stand food waste. I keep an eye on food freshness in my kitchen like a ninja! I’ve spoken before about my Cook-Once, Eat-Twice method of cooking where you cook a boatload of main dish & freeze the rest for future meals. These entrees will be served exactly as they were cooked. Homemade Meat Ravioli or Stuffed Bell Peppers are two examples.
But there’s another method of cooking I often employ to stop food waste in its tracks: Planned Leftovers. This is a little different, a main ingredient is made in large quantities and then the leftovers are made into completely different dishes. For instance I might cook a Slow-Cooker Sticky-Chicken one night and then make Tortilla Soup with the leftover chicken. Make sense? Now hear this: recently I purposely made massive quantities of pork roast. One of my all-time favorite leftovers planning is Carnitas Tacos. Oh man you’re gonna love this!
I had a huge amount of pork roast to cook so I pulled out all THREE of my slow cookers! I have a normal-sized one, a large one and a mammoth-sized one & it took all three to cook this much Pork Roast. Of course for that night’s supper RancherMan & I enjoyed roast with potatoes & carrots. But I’ve got big plans for all that leftover pork – oh yes indeed!
Now since I knew beforehand that I was planning this leftover meal with my pork roast I was sure to toss in plenty of extra onions & bell peppers. That way they can cook right alongside my pork roast. When I was storing the leftovers in the fridge I placed the roast in one huge container and all the leftover veggies in a separate container. But now it’s time to whip up those Carnitas Tacos and this simple prep work means it’ll be done in a flash!
First I take out almost all the leftover bell pepper & onion and mash it into almost a paste consistency. (I reserve a small amount of each so that I can add that delightful texture in my taco meat) Then I bring out about 3 cups of cooked roast and toss it into my pan. It’s easier to shred when it’s warm.
After it heats just a short time I take two forks & shred the meat. Then I add about 1/2 cup tomato-based sauce. Now you know I’m a ‘Use Whatcha Got’ kinda gal, so sometimes it’s just tomato sauce, sometimes it’s my Roasted Tomato Puree and sometimes it’s salsa or a mixture of salsa & salsa verde. It all depends upon what I have that needs to be used. (See note about food-waste hatred above!) Then I add my seasonings – a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin & paprika.
While my meat mixture is heating slowly to perfection I turn my attention to the taco shells. Now I love crispy tacos. LOVE ‘EM. But I’ve always hated buying the shells. To me they’re an unnecessary expense and it seems several are always broken in the package by the time I get them home. Oh, and they’re oftentimes stale too. Plus there are about 12 in a package, way too many for RancherMan & me to consume. (Once again, see above statement about hatred for food waste)
So I’ve started making my own Crispy Taco Shells. Not only are they cheaper but they’re fresh and lightly crispy, not hard like the commercial ones. Oh, and they stay together when you bite them unlike the commercially-purchased crispy shells of my past that would crumble with each bite. I really can’t say enough about my homemade version. Give ’em a try!
Anyway, after my taco shells are ready, the meat mixture is hot & ready too. I simply call RancherMan to the table for supper. Oh make no mistake the calling is easy, he’s been hovering around the kitchen licking his lips all along!
We take a couple of crispy shells and fill ’em to our heart’s desire with the Carnitas Taco meat. Typically that’s all it needs for us – no lettuce or cheese. No sauce of any kind. Just plain, simple, delicious Carnitas Tacos. Of course you can add those garnishments if you like.
And since I’ve made them from my planned leftovers I’ve been able to turn extra leftover pork roast into a brand new and totally delicious meal in a snap. No food wasted here!
Carnitas Tacos from Leftover Pork Roast
- 3 cups leftover pork roast
- 1/2 cup salsa (can use tomato sauce)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
In a large pan, add roast, heat slightly and shred with 2 forks. Add the salsa (or tomato sauce) and 1 tsp each of chili powder, cumin & paprika. Heat gently until heated through.
Add meat mixture to either corn or flour tortillas, or make your own crispy corn tortilla shells.
Garnish with lettuce, cheese and a spoon of salsa if desired (optional)
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