Every once in a while, we get down to La Siesta in San Clemente, where they have the best carnitas we’ve found in Orange County. There might be better somewhere in Santa Ana, but the drive there is not so scenic, so we rarely go. We used to love their huevos rancheros, but it seems to have gone downhill—it seemed to do so right after our favorite waitress, Carmen, left the restaurant.
We miss Carmen. She was the best waitress ever! Remembered your name, made you feel welcome, would ask questions about your life. A light went out of the restaurant after Carmen left. I hope she’s happy and making some other restaurant very special somewhere!
La Siesta also has this amazing red salsa. It’s not a pico de gallo, but a real salsa, with some smoky chili in there that’s not a chipotle. We ALWAYS get some of this to go. It’s just too good on just about anything–eggs, in guacamole, on pizza…you get the point.
Anyway, back to the carnitas. We usually get some to go, and this is one of our favorite things to do with it. This is a nice little snack, but it can be dinner too, with a side salad and maybe some quick refried beans.
I haven’t tried making carnitas yet, but I probably will soon. I found a nice recipe in a new cookbook of mine. I’ll be trying chorizo soon too…
If you have some carnitas floating around in your fridge, definitely try this! You can use a regular, heavy-bottomed frying pan, but I love using this crumpet pan I bought in London years ago. I found Elizabeth David‘s crumpet recipe, and I was on a roll. Had to have the right pan…you know how that is, right? Now after about 15 years or so, it’s perfectly seasoned and great for stovetop or oven use. I’m so glad I searched every London cooking shop for it–this was before the internet!
P.S. These pics are from the new camera–I hope you like the new and improved photos!
Here’s the recipe for the carnitas taquitos and the quick refried beans:
Four flour tortillas (the nicer the better)
1 cup of carnitas, room temperature*
1/2 an avocado, thinly sliced
1 cup grated cheddar (or more, to taste!)
Your favorite hot sauce or salsa
Shred up the carnitas into each tortilla, laying it across the tortilla towards one end. Add avocado and hot sauce across the carnitas. Finish with cilantro and cheese, and carefully roll up. Set aside. Repeat with each tortilla.
Heat the pan over medium heat and add just a little bit of oil so they don’t stick. Carefully add the taquitos to the pan, seam side down. Check after a few minutes to see if the tortilla is getting brown, then roll the taquitos over a bit until they’re sitting on uncooked tortilla. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, and turn them carefully so that the filling doesn’t spill out.
Once they’re crispy all over, serve immediately with more hot sauce.
*Vegetarians, try using Soyrizo–that would be a tasty substitute!
Quick Refried Beans:
1 can of pinto beans (undrained)
3 oz. bacon or salt pork, chopped (optional for vegetarians)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small red jalapeño (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and add the chopped bacon. Cook until crispy, then add the chopped onion. Cook for about five minutes until the onion starts to soften and brown just a bit. Add the chili and cook for a further two minutes, stirring.
Add the pinto beans and let them get warmed through, about three to five minutes. Remove them from the heat and carefully puree about half of the beans. It’s not an exact science–if you like really smooth refried beans, the puree them all, but I go for about half. I usually do this with a stick blender, but you can also use a regular potato masher, or pour some of the beans into a blender. But PLEASE be careful, as the beans will be so hot you will burn yourself if the beans get on you!! It will be like napalm, and nobody likes all that swearing in the kitchen.
Return to the heat for a few minutes before serving, and stir well. Add pepper to taste, and salt if you like. You can even add a little milk to make them even creamier—I got that trick from a roommate of mine in college whose Mexican mother used to do it. It works.