Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Savor the Crave. Making Pork Carnitas.

What to do when the Latin market carries carnitas only during the weekend 
and you have a nice package of country style ribs just waiting in the frig.........
waiting to be turned into meltingly tender carnitas! 

Why, you make carnitas!

Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz 
  • 4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat (I used bone in country style ribs..gnawing on the bones, getting every little crunchy, crispy bite is the best part of it all)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lard or oil or choice
  • water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (grind your own using dried ancho chiles or pasilla chilies if you want spicier carnitas)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced

1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1- to 3-days. (I have skipped this step with no discernible difference, or maybe there is, but when I want carnitas..I want them now..or in 5 hours)
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel (I don't blot), then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.

4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.

7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.
I like mine deeply, darkly, crispy, and crunchy brown on the outside.

Carnitas can be, and have been, eaten straight from the pot..burning fingers are no match for these little goodies.  I like to serve carnitas with fresh corn tortillas, slices of barely ripe avocado, some chopped cilantro accompanied by a few wedges of lime.

Adding these pickled onions cuts the richness of the meat
giving  a whole new dimension to the dish.

pickled red onions

Carnitas can also be topped with mole sauce and sour cream. 
Drinking a large cucumber margharita alongside, is a match made in heaven!

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