Saturday, January 21, 2012


What is there not to like about carnitas?  I love pork.  I love Mexican food.  I love tequila.  (Okay, not really directly connected to carnitas, but for some reason just sitting around drinking margaritas without Mexican food makes me feel like a lush.  Unless it's really hot out.  Strange, because I don't feel that way about wine...)

According to Wikipedia (which is back up and running, thank god!  I don't know how I survived prior to having immediate access to questionable information about things that don't really matter...), Carnitas literally means"little meats," and is pork that is braised for 8 to 10 hours at a very low heat, before being pulled apart and then roasted at high heat (375-425 degrees) for a few minutes.  I had never done this final step before, as my recipe just calls for seasoning the meat and throwing it into a crock pot, but I am nothing if not OBSESSED with following the rules of cooking... no, wait.  The opposite of that.

Anyway, the reason given for this final step was to "produce the desired alternating texture of succulent softness and caramelized crispness" which sounded delicious, so I thought I would give it a try.  I think there was a difference, and it really didn't add much cooking time, so I would continue this step.  Also, it makes a lot of sense for how I cook, which is making WAY more meat that Jeff and I can consume in one meal and then heating it up throughout the week for lunches and whatnot.  I figure you only roast up what you're going to eat that day.  If you need more, I only left the meat in for 10 minutes so it's pretty easy to just finish off more.  That makes me think that this would be a really good meal for a dinner party, because you could make all the meat the day before and then just heat it up day of.  Those Mexicans - they're so smart!

Another interesting thing that I learned from Wikipedia is that cartinas is singular, and is JUST the meat.  So, you could use carnitas in anything, and it would still be carnitas.  Which makes me feel good, because my final product is pretty gringo'd up.  Cheddar cheese because I couldn't find any I couldn't find any local chihuahua cheese (also, chihuahua cheese freaks me out - goat cheese comes from goats, where does chihuahua cheese come from?!?), I'm not sure tomatoes are appropriate, and I'm sure bruschetta topping isn't.  Corn tortillas would be the right choice, but there is a local restaurant that makes their own flour tortillas and so I went with that instead.  Sour cream?  Not in any recipe I've seen.    


I did use some non-local ingredients here, but they came from a local, privately owned business.  I need chips, and I need guacamole.  Some might say "need" is too strong of a word.  To them I say, "leave me alone, okay?  This is hard, geez.  Give me a break!" 

Modified from William Sonoma: Essentials of Slow Cooking

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3-4 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Lager style beer
  • 1/2 habanero chili
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • splash of orange juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
Season pork generously with salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the pork and brown on all sides, working in batches if necessary.  Remove the pork and set aside.

Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add the beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the pork to a slow cooker, and pour in the beer mixture.  Add chili, zest, lime juice, and orange juice, and transfer to a crock pot.  Cook for 10 hours on the low heat setting.  In the last hour, add oregano.

Once the slow cooking is over, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Coarsely cut and shred the pork using a sharp knife and a fork.  Skim as much fat as possible from the surface of the cooking liquid.  Transfer the pork to a heavy, oven proof pan and add enough liquid to cover about half way up the meat.  Keep the rest of the liquid warm, just at a simmer.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the liquid in the pan just evaporates.

Transfer the meat to a warmed platter, moisten with additional cooking liquid, and use in tacos, burritos, tamales, etc. as you see fit.

Since, of course, I made way more meat that two people could eat in one meal, I have a lovely leftover recipe.  This does use non-local kumquats, which are probably my favorite fruit ever.  Especially since they're only available in the dead of winter.  They're like little bursts of sunshine, and I wasn't going to miss out.

If you're not trying to be as local as possible, I would use some rice noodles in this recipe, but I did use my own home made spaghetti.  To which I added pork, a few more peppers, some fresh cilantro from the farmer's market, reduced braising liquid and, of course, kumquats.  I sauteed up some garlic with the peppers, then added in two cups braising liquid and simmered until reduced by half.  Then I added the pork and continued to simmer until heated through.  Cooked noodles, then kumquats.  Dish it out, and top with cilantro and more kumquats.  Everything was crazy spicy, but the kumquats are sweet and sour and overall it was pretty awesome.

I don't get people who don't like leftovers.

1 comment:

  1. You manage to make a new meal out of leftovers. I always end up eating the exact same meal twice. That's the problem with leftovers in most houses!