Speedy Verde Carnitas and Puerto Rican Chicken with Corn and Roasted Tomato Salsa
Another Installment of my College Food Series

At first, I was not going to include these recipes in the College Food Series, but they are both so darn easy, any college student can make this during an hour of studying for mid-terms or paper-writing day.  Both take about an hour, ingredients are minimal, effort is also pretty minimal, cost is low, and flavor is HUGE!!!  Being that these are spicy with warm Mexican flavors, these are fantastic for cool fall evenings or cold winter days. 

Let's start with the Puerto Rican Chicken with Corn and Roasted Tomato Salsa.  

This recipe can be made with almost all-canned ingredients, but it can also be kicked up a culinary notch.  For the sake of College Foodies, let's stick with the easy basics.  Here's the starting line-up:

1 package of mixed chicken thighs and drum sticks
1 medium yellow or red onion, chopped (or, 1.5  tablespoons onion powder)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or, 1.5 teaspoons dried minced garlic, or garlic powder)
3 full tablespoons of Paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano (crush between the palms of your hands)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can Fire Roasted tomatoes
1  4 ounce can fire roasted green chiles
1 8 ounce can corn, drained
salt and pepper, about a 1/2 teaspoon each
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or your favorite oil)
2 cups chicken broth/stock, or water

Remove the chicken from the packaging and sprinkle liberally with the tablespoons of paprika.  If you are using granulated onion and garlic, season the chicken parts with a teaspoon of each, and also season with salt and pepper.  Add the oil to a high-sided pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil begins to ripple, it is hot enough to sear the chicken.  Place the chicken in the pan and sear each side for about five minutes.  Remove the chicken to a plate, cover with foil, and add the fresh onion and garlic to the pot.  Stir and allow the onion and garlic to become nearly translucent.  Add the can of green chiles and the can of drained corn.  Stir in thoroughly, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up those browned bits of chicken.  That is amazing flavor for your sauce!.  Finally, add the two cups of chicken broth or stock (low sodium!) or, if your student does not have that on hand, which they probably won't, add two cups of water.  Stir everything together, turn the heat to high, and once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and follow the directions below to bold font spice alternative.

*Note:  If you are using only powdered or granulated onion and garlic, add the tomato products to the high-sided pan first, stir, and then add the rest of the seasonings and mix thoroughly. 

Nestle the chicken back into the pot just beneath the sauce level.  Partially cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove the lid after 45 minutes, and over medium heat, now,  let it simmer for another fifteen minutes. Carefully remove the chicken (which may start to fall apart now due to the braising process) to a serving plate or bowl, and allow the sauce to cook over medium-high for about five more minutes to reduce it further.  Stir thoroughly to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Flavor!!!

Turn off the heat and ladle heaping spoon fulls of the corn and roasted tomato salsa over the chicken.  This will be messy, as you will want to use your hands as well as a spoon at some point!  Aromatic, inviting, warm and pleasantly spicy, this dish is sure to comfort any college student (or, Anyone!) during a long day of studying or paper-writing.  

 Top with cilantro as a flavorful, fresh garnish and sprinkle with your favorite cheese!

I made this next dish for my son up at Sac State last week, and I was thoroughly pleased that he enjoyed it so well there were no leftovers.  I'd had just oven an hour and a half to make it, but from prep to serving, I did not need even that much time.  Here is my Speedy Verde Carnitas!

Here is what I brought up to Sacramento with  me: 

1 one pound package of pork butt/shoulder cut into one-inch cubes
2  four-ounce cans of diced green chiles
2 eight ounce cans of Verde sauce
1 8 ounce can of corn (optional)
1 box of low sodium chicken stock (although two cups of water will be fine)
3 cloves finely chopped garlic (or 1.5 teaspoon granulated or dried minced garlic)
1 red or yellow onion, chopped (or 1.5 tablespoons granulated onion or powder)
1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or your favorite oil)
Your favorite cheese for a topper

Over medium-high heat, add the olive oil to a high-sided pot or pan.  While the oil is heating, season the pork with salt and pepper.  If you are using all granulated seasonings, season the pork with a little onion and garlic powder, too.  Save the rest for the sauce.  When the oil begins to rippled, add the pork to the pan and allow it to sear about seven or eight minutes, until golden brown.  Do not try to continuously move the pork around.  As it cararmelizes, the sugars in the meat with release it from the hot pan. Then it is okay to stir it around. Once the meat has browned, and if you are using fresh garlic and onion, add those now.  Otherwise, save the garlic and onion until the wet ingredients have been added to the pot or pan.  Add the verde sauce and the cans of roasted green chiles and stir to thoroughly incorporate. *Now add the powdered seasonings, if you are not using fresh ingredients. Once more, stir thoroughly to allow those wonderful flavors to marry with the sauce.  Delicious. 

At this point, turn the heat to high, and when the sauce begins to boil, partially cover and reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer.  Let the carnitas and sauce simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.  Uncover and simmer for another fifteen minutes.  

 You could serve with cilantro as another splash of fresh color and flavor!  This meal is warm, tangy, and one of the easiest comfort foods Ever.  I cannot wait to make this in a more traditional manner and cook it low and slow for four or more hours.  But for our college students, this is speedy, easy and comforty. 

Thank You for your time and consideration, folks!



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