Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Carnitas, Criminals & Confessions

Yes, that’s a bowl of salsa verde with army men either guarding it or preparing to storm it. I’m not really sure which. The kids could probably say, since the army men have been included regularly in a pretend game that they have been deeply enamored of lately. They call it… Gangsters. They rob things. And shoot people. I told my son I wasn't crazy about them shooting people. And he told me that the imaginary person shot at him first.

In case you’re wondering, I did not bounce them on my knee when they were babes and read them stories about Al Capone and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

I, unlike my gangster children, am ready to confess. I’ve never actually made Mexican salsa verde before. I’ve made the Italian sort, but, well, uh… you know how many a Mexican cookbook will exhort you to make your own salsa verde rather than use the tinned or jarred? Well, I have a fondness for that tinny ring and tomatillo flavor together in my mouth that only canned salsa verde can give. But I had yardwork that I wanted to avoid as much as possible on Sunday, so I took it into my head to make salsa verde, which, I quickly realized, was not going to kill enough time to totally avoid the yardwork. What kind of genius decides to procrastinate by 1) doing more work and making something from scratch that she is perfectly happy with pre-fabbed and 2) doing something that generates more dishes, and thus, more work. Yeah, that genius would be me. It’s well documented that I am smaaaht.

Actually, I didn’t have to do the dishes Sunday; my parents were in town, visiting on their way back from Hawaii, and they compulsively washed and put away everything I touched in the kitchen. Particularly since it's still an ordeal for Gimp-a-licious to even attempt getting his own glass of water, it was fantastic. So I ended up both doing yardwork (below is a picture of the camellia tree outside of our dining room window, which unfailingly lifts my heart each year when it bursts forth with its showy flowers) and making a salsa verde to go with the carnitas. Carnitas are a near-perfect dish for Sunday afternoons when you’re around the house but not always in the kitchen. It allows for things like supervising the kids biking up and down on the sidewalk, while weeding and digging out a decrepit shrub and some yarrow intent on a hostile take-over of its corner of the garden. Carnitas only require a little peek now and then. And, not to harp too much on it, with Gimp-a-licious injured, I have found myself returning to dishes that are staples for us, things that are comforting favorites. And carnitas are a hit with everyone in my house.

Anyway. The home-made salsa verde was fabulous, all sour and roasted (I dropped the tomatillos in a dry skillet with some onion, garlic and half each of a jalapeno and Anaheim chile, thus the roast-i-ness to the flavor) and herby. It was much, much better than tinned can ever hope to be, but I will continue to have a soft spot in my heart and mouth for that tinny tang. Particularly since the can doesn't generate any extra dishes.

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