On the Line: Peter Serantoni of Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen, Part Three
Photo by Johannes Dewald

On the Line: Peter Serantoni of Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen, Part Three

"It should have a certain foundation. Its gotta have certain flavors that blend well together. A lot of people forget it's about a balance at the end of the day. And most importantly, what you drink should stimulate your appetite, and not the other way around."

Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen's approach is very simple: Make things that make sense, pushing the envelope a little bit. We end our interview with Peter Serantoni by sharing some bold flavors in a duo of recipes.

Carnitas and Mango Habanero Margarita

Carnitas ingredients:

8 pounds boneless pork butt
3 1/2 tablespoons Cha Cha Spice Mix
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
5 cups cola
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
Juice of 2 oranges, about 1/2 cup
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fresh cilantro stems only, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
1 cup canola oil

Cha Cha Spice Mix ingredients:

3 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons dried granulated garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin

MIx well and store in an airtight container.

Carnitas directions:

Cut the pork into large chunks. Dust pork with spice mix, salt and pepper. Combine cola, juices, soy sauce, cilantro and garlic. Pour over meat and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove meat from marinade and reserve marinade. Place oil in braising pan over medium heat until smoking.

Add drained pork one piece at a time and brown (be careful not to splash hot oil) for 20 minutes. 

Add marinade, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender and dark brown. An alternate method is to place brown pork with marinade in roasting pan, cover with foil and bake at 350-degrees for 2 to 3 hours, or until meat is tender and juicy.

Remove pork and set aside. Strain braising liquid, skimming off fat if needed. Serve carnitas with warm flour and/or corn tortillas, salsas and guacamole. Serves 6 to 8.

Margarita ingredients:

2 fresh peeled mango slices
1/2 ounce habanero syrup
2 fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 ounce Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila 100% Blue Agave
1/2 once Cointreau Liqueur
1 ounce fresh sweet & sour
2 cups simple syrup
Mango slice for garnish

Habanero syrup ingredients:

1 cup simple syrup
1 habanero chili

Habanero syrup directions:

Boil simple syrup and add habanero chili. Reduce and simmer for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat to cool. Do not remove habaneros and refrigerate for 24-hours.

Sweet and sour ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup simple syrup

Mix all ingredients well.

Simple syrup directions:

Bring equal parts water and sugar to a quick boil. Remove from heat and cool.

Margarita directions:

Place the mango slices in a Boston shaker. Add habanero syrup and mint leaves, muddle until mango turns into a puree.

Fill the shaker with ice. Add remaining ingredients. Shake well.

Strain into an ice filled glass. Garnish with a slice of mango.

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