Sunday, April 5, 2009

Carnitas Recipe

My own personal carnitas recipe. It makes use of many recipes found many places, and attempts to use the best of all worlds: frying in lard, braising, and roasting. It's messy, but very worth it. Enjoy.


10 dried chipotle chiles
5 ancho chiles (dried poblano)
1 lb rendered pork lard
2 (3 to 5 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
Salt and pepper
4 onions, halved
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand crushed
4 oranges, halved
4 limes, halved
2 tablespoons Chili powder
2 large, heavy pots

Put the chiles into a large bowl and cover with a lot of hot water; set aside. In a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, melt the entirety of the lard (yes, all of it). Generously rub the pork with salt (especially salt: use a good coarse salt), pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Brown the first piece of meat well on all sides in the lard, until it is crispy and caramelized. Remove the meat and repeat with the other piece. At this point, pull out the second pot and transfer half the melted lard and meat drippings to it. From now on, each piece of pork will have its own pot, and all the ingredients will be split in half. Add the halved onions to the lard and fry until caramelized, scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Turn down the heat to very low, and add the garlic. Stem and seed the soaked chiles reserving the soaking liquid; hand tear them into the pot. Return the meat to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Pour in all the chili soaking liquid, straining out any seeds, until it almost covers the meat. Use the tomatoes to cover what is left. Squeeze the orange and lime juices into the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the pork is very tender. Remove the meat to a platter and cover to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid and reserve. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into those long stringy, yummy porky pieces (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish. Return the pork pieces to a roasting pan, and spoon some of the remaining braising liquid over them, until they are soaked and moist, and roast in the oven at 375 degrees until the liquid has condensed, possibly 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.
Best served in small tortillas, with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

... This calls for between 8-10 lbs of pork, which sounds like a lot, but remember that pork shoulder is a very fatty meat, and contains bone so you may not yield as much pulled pork as you expected, although I think you could feed at least 8 hungry people with this recipe.


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