WARNING: If you are about to read this blog entry, I suggest you take a seat and get comfortable. This will very likely make you hungry no matter what you have eaten for dinner or, for that matter, 5 minutes ago.
I think that I can easily say that last night I had the best meal of my life. Okay, maybe it is in my top 5, but boy were these tacos pure bliss. The other day as my mom and I were wandering through the aisles of the supermarket, I turned to her and said “I want to make tacos soon.” Generally speaking, the ideas that I come up with for the dinners that I make usually come out that way: out of nowhere. The best way to describe it would have to be with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon trivia game (I cannot believe they had it on Wikipedia). I start out thinking about something very simple and miniscule that eventually leads up from me saying “I want to make tacos” to “carnitas and tequila-lime marinated shrimp tacos” just a few minutes later. Sometimes these ideas are far-fetched and unrealistic (I am the QUEEN of unrealistic plans), but sometimes, like last night, they are possible and utterly perfect.
The term “carnitas” is pretty much a Mexican way of saying “braised or roasted pork” and is almost always affiliated with tacos. Yesterday morning, my mom got up at 9:00 (she was in charge of this process), took her pre-bought pork shoulder out of the refrigerator, covered it with her little secret spice blend (paprika, cumin, cayenne, to name a few), threw it in the crock pot, filled the crock pot with water, and boom: by 10:00 it started to very, very slowly cook.
By around noon or so, we went off to the grocery store to pick up the shrimp as well as the other accoutrements (I will get to all of that later), and got started right away on my shrimp marinade.
Here we have equal parts tequila (I just used Jose Cuervo Gold) and lime juice, shallots, garlic, cumin, and olive oil. We ended up buying more shrimp than we thought we were going to, so I had to increase the volume of the recipe I had printed out (I know, I’m sorry for disappointing you by not coming up with this on my own).
I divided the skewers into two pans, along with the marinade, covered them, and put them in the fridge. They were in that marinade for about 2 hours and halfway through I turned them all so that each one of those babies could take in the flavor and, well, get “drunk”. FYI: They could have been in that marinade for up to 4 hours, but there was not enough time. We were hungry.
I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, with anything that I am eating, I always enjoy a little “crunch”. Lettuce usually gives tacos the crunch factor, but I was not exactly feeling the whole lettuce idea, so instead I discovered an absolutely phenomenal slaw created by the great Bobby Flay (again, apologies for the disappointment). It was a red cabbage slaw the involved me making the entire dressing in the blender. Things like orange juice, lime juice, garlic, red onion, honey, cilantro, basil, and oil, were all blended together creating this sweet citrus dressing that ended up really complimenting all of the other flavors we had for the tacos.
The time had come to finally grill the shrimp. While the grill got hot I took a folded paper towel, covered it in canola oil, and brushed it lightly on the grill-top. The perfect shrimp secret: Medium heat (more towards low if you have a hot stove), 3 minutes on each side. I am sure we have all had an over-cooked shrimp catastrophe story to tell and I hope you never have that issue again.
Here we have the rest of our condiments: my mom’s guacamole, a couple different salsas, sour cream (<3), a few different cheeses (queso fresco, of course), and finally the whole wheat and flour tortillas!
Everything was so good I am actually struggling to find words to describe it. And to top it off? My father’s TO-DIE-FOR Golden Margaritas: