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Mid-Week Feasting: Pork Carnitas Tacos with Mango Salsa + 2020 L'Ecole Chenin Blanc Old Vines #Sponsored

   This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of L'Ecole
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links. 
However, all opinions expressed here are my own. 

If you're been following my blog, you'll know that I'm doing a series of monthly posts in collaboration with L'Ecole Winery.* A group of us participate in a virtual tasting with their marketing manager, the winemaker, and the general manager and discuss timely topics. This month, we are looking at how to make your weeknight meals shine with a truly special value wine!

2020 L'Ecole Chenin Blanc Old Vines

When you come across a standout wine that's easy on the pocket book, you make notes that it's perfect for everyday dinners and special occasions, right? That's what I did when I had a chance to taste the 2020 L'Ecole Chenin Blanc; I can see why this was the wine selected for this topic. This wine retails for $17 (on their website). That is a steal!


From Marcus, L'Ecole's winemaker, we learned that this is the only wine they produce under the Yakima Valley AVA and it's his first Chenin Blanc, but he has made several aromatic white wines in the past. "This [grape] lends itself to this kind of wine because it requires a certain touch and attention to detail." He also noted that it was cool to work with vines that are forty-plus years old. "They are so consistent," he said.

He described the Yakima Valley, the climate around the vineyards that actually sit on the southern slopes of the Rattlesnake Hills, and the harvest and winemaking for the Chenin. It was fascinating to hear how he opted to tone down the acidity of the wine. Marcus and his team took a third of the wine and allowed it to go through a full malolactic fermentation which is the process through which tart malic acid converts to creamier lactic acid. Then they blended it back in for a softer, more weighty wine. But, by only allowing a third of the wine to undergo malo, a lot of vibrancy remained.

On the nose, there were lots of vibrant flowers such as honeysuckle on the forefront with underlying stone fruit. But it was the experience on the palate that has cemented this wine as one of our favorites for the season. Jake usually drinks my pairings and gives me an amused look when I ask him for this thoughts. For this bottle, however, he asked me to get a pen and take notes...completely unprompted!

"Light. Bright. A little too tasty."

And by that last comment, I think he meant that we were not going to have enough wine for a second dinner pairing.

This Chenin is beguiling and has a mysterious flavor on the finish that makes you long for another sip and confounds you. During the virtual tasting, we described where we felt the acidity and how it made our mouths water. Someone mentioned quince. I'm thinking rhubarb or something tropical as such as passionfruit or slightly unripe mango. 

And I paired it twice during mid-week dinners just to be sure. First, I poured it with the Pad Thai dinner that my dad requested. But, somehow in running a delivery over to my parents' house, and getting dinner on the table at my own house, my photos were severely lacking in number. I had this...and that's it. Just. One. Photo. What the heck?



Now I needed to do a take-two to share another mid-week feast. So, here's my oven-baked carnitas that you put in the oven and leave for the day. Then you have a delicious meal that's ready just in time for dinner. This is slightly adapted from a recipe that I learned during a virtual cooking class with Caroline Chambers. She's a cookbook author, cooking class instructor, and just general kitchen inspiration. I've taken several of her classes and love how easily adaptable to what ingredients I have in my house already. I'm sharing the recipe as I made it...with a ton of leftovers from an 8-pound bone-in roast for four people. It's what I had. Don't judge. 

Pork Carnitas Tacos with Mango Salsa

Pork Carnitas
  • 6 to 8 pound bone-in pork shoulder or butt
  • salt, approximately 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 to 3 organic oranges (I used blood oranges, but use whatever oranges you have), sliced into wedges
  • 2 to 3 organic lemons (I used Meyer lemons, but use whatever lemons you have), sliced into wedges
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 peppers from a can of chipotle en adobo
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • Also needed: Dutch oven

For Serving

  • corn tortillas
  • crumbled cheese (I used queso fresco)
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh salsas

Fresh Mango Salsa

  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon, chopped jalapeño
  • 2 limes
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 ripe avocado

Procedure
 

Fresh Mango Salsa
In a small mixing bowl, combine the prepared mango, shallot, cilantro, and jalapeño. Squeeze the juice to one lime over the top and stir. Cover and refrigerate. 

I made this in the morning and served it for dinner that evening. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for at least 3o minutes. Before serving, remove the salsa from the fridge. Add in diced avocado and the herbs. Squeeze the juice of the second lime over the top and stir. Season to taste with salt, as needed.

Pork Carnitas
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally salt the pork and nestle it in a Dutch oven. Squeeze in the juice of the oranges and lemons and drop the citrus skins into the pot.


Add in the remaining ingredients and cover the pot. Place it in the preheated oven and braise until the meat shreds easily. For my eight-pound piece, I started checking it at about 6 hours and finally took it out of the oven after 7 hours.


Let stand to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaves. 

Then, use two forks to shred the meat and remove the bone. The meat will soak up the cooking liquid and get even more succulent. Serve as is.

Or place the pork on a plancha and cook until you get some nicely browned and crispy parts.

 

Serve with mango salsa, crumbled cheese, fresh cilantro, and lots and lots of tortillas.


Then let everyone assemble the tacos to their tastes. 


Well, that's a wrap on my pairing for the 2020 L'Ecole Chenin Blanc Old Vines. It's the perfect mid-week that can lend a little exotic flavor to your everyday meals. We'll be back next month with a focus on L'Ecole's 2020 Grenache Rosé. Stay tuned.

Find L'Ecole No.41 on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the sponsor.

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