So for this seaside dinner, hosted by Walrus and Carpenter in July 2016, he sourced nearly every ingredient from producers within a 50-mile radius. Yet the resulting menu hopscotches the globe, incorporating Southeast Asian and Argentine influences – not to mention Rojas’ own Mexican roots. Turns out big flavors pair perfectly with the bounty of the country’s smallest state. Read more about Rojas’ ocean-to-table dinner at Rhode Island’s Walrus and Carpenter in “On Ninigret Pond” from the Summer 2017 issue of Modern Farmer. And don’t miss his other recipes, either!
Pork Carnitas Tacos with Salsa Fresca
At the Walrus and Carpenter dinner, Rojas grilled whole pig heads from Blackbird Farm in Smith eld, then shredded the tender cheek meat. “Tacos enable me to utilize every part – nose to tail – of the animals we buy from farmers,” says the chef. This simpler stovetop variation substitutes pork shoulder and belly.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for grilling avocados)
- 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 1 pound pork belly (cut into 2-inch cubes)
- 1 large yellow onion (chopped (about 2 cups))
- 6 dried guajillo chiles (stems removed 8 cloves garlic, chopped’3 tablespoons kosher salt’2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 avocados (halved, pitted, and peeled ’18”“24 corn tortillas (6-inch round), warmed)
- 1 medium yellow onion (minced (about 1 cup), for garnish)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (stems removed and chopped (about 11â„2 cups), for garnish)
- 3”“4 limes (cut into wedges, for serving)
- Salsa Fresca (recipe linked below)
- Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sear pork shoulder and belly in batches, adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil as needed, until all cubes are browned on’all sides. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot into a heatproof bowl and reserve. Return same pot to medium heat; add chopped onion, chiles, and garlic and sauté until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Return reserved pork to pot and add salt, oregano, and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover pork mixture by’1 inch and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 11â„2 hours, adding more water to cover as needed, and skimming off any scum that forms’on surface. Drain water from pot and discard bay leaves.’Add a few tablespoons of the reserved fat and raise heat to high, allowing pork to sear until crispy and browned, about’5 minutes. When pork is cool enough to handle, use two forks to gently pull the meat apart. Set aside.
- Heat a grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil grates (or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and lightly oil it). Grill avocados at side down until char marks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each half lengthwise into 6 slices.
To assemble, divide reserved pork and avocados evenly among tortillas. Top each with a sprinkle of minced onion and cilantro and a spoonful of Salsa Fresca. Serve immediately with any remaining salsa and lime wedges on the side.