End-of-summer cilantro, carnitas and the end of corn tortillas


Volunteer cilantro

Several frosty mornings have shown that summer has passed in Gourmandistan. Despite the cold and dwindling daylight, we’ve had a sudden bloom of cilantro in our herb garden (in and outside the raised bed), and decided it was the perfect excuse to make carnitas. Steve was ready to melt down his homemade lard and get to deep-frying some pork chunks, but Michelle thought there might be a less messy and dangerous way to deal with the boneless pork shoulder we’d somewhat impulsively bought from Schacht Farm. She found an alternative method from reliable Rick Bayless, who recommended slicing the shoulder into slabs and slow-roasting it in its own fat.


Michelle mollified Steve’s lard longing by locating yet another Bayless recipe, this one for flour tortillas. The tortillas turned out to be the real highlight of the meal—though the oven-roasted carnitas set a very high benchmark, coming out with same ratio of crunchy/tender/juicy bits as the deep-fried version.

Michelle mixed our roasted tomatillo salsa (frozen last year) with some volunteer cilantro and what we think were the season’s last tomatoes.  And we julienned some Foxhollow radishes, diced some onion and chopped more cilantro for some great garnish.

Tomatillo salsa

But the tortillas had the kind of taste that lingers in our memories. Made with Steve’s porky brown lard, this simple mix of flour, fat and warm water made an easily-handled dough that toasted into wonderful wraps, simultaneously crunchy and firm with flecks of charred bubbly bits and their own smoky, bacon-y flavor.

Flour tortillas

Summer may be over, but we may have to start an indoor cilantro garden and start looking for a suitable salsa. These tortillas need to keep appearing on our plates.


    • The herb garden is still going strong. Pretty amazing for November. But we’re just a frost or two away from having to (gasp!) buy those little packages of herbs at Whole Foods.

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