Friday, August 29, 2014

Tacos with Carnitas

One of my favorite meals to make for our family is homemade tacos with carnitas.  I like to make my carnitas by a slow braise.  This allows the pork to get very tender, and it practically melts in your mouth.

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder (or similar cut - not loin or tenderloin. You want tough and fatty. I've used boneless fresh ham too.), cut into 3-inch chunks (if you have something bone-in leave it in one piece, but it will take longer to cook so plan accordingly!)
  • ~1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons frying fat (light olive, peanut... my personal favorite is duck fat because NOM)
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • cinnamon stick (I like ceylon - less spicy/sweet, more citrus-y)
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • ~5 cups water (depends on the size of your cooking vessel)

Heat oven to 350. Coat the hunks of pork with kosher salt - not too thick, just a nice coat (about a tablespoon all together) In a large, cast iron pot on the stove (isn't mine GORGEOUS? THANK YOU HOLLY!) heat your frying fat, and put chunks of pork in. Let them brown on all sides, then add water to about 3/4ths of the way up the chunks. Add all the spices and stir. Pop it in the oven for 3 hours, or until the pork shreds easily with a fork. Take the pot out and shred the pork. There still should be liquid in the pot; return the pot to the oven until most of it has evaporated/absorbed by the meat, and the meat is as dark as you'd like.

I like to serve carnitas with salsa fresca (usually about two large tomatoes with seeds and skin, 1/2 medium onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a mild banana pepper de-seeded, a tablespoon of lime juice and salt to taste) and guacamole for which I freely admit to just using Alton Brown's recipe because it is fantastic. I make homemade corn tortillas (for which the recipe is: masa harina and water; ok, there's no real recipe.) I also like to have rice and grilled corn on the side.

As an aside, sorry I only have pics of the first few steps... I ended up being too involved in the cooking and eating. Trust me, however: you cannot go wrong with this recipe.

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