Monday, September 24, 2012

Rosie Makes Carnitas.

One of my little Hawthornes 
showed up unexpectedly
the other day.
As luck would have it,
I had a  dinner in the works
 that I knew Middle Hawthorne would love.

"Carnitas"  means "little meats."
Little pieces of browned pork.

carnitas from the Michoacan region of Mexico
have been considered the best,
although they have many rivals.
They were typically fried
in copper vats filled with lard.

I'm sure the lard technique is fabulous,
and one I would love to try some day,
but, in the best interests of my arteries,
I'm going with a suggestion from
the Reina of All Things Mexican,
Diana Kennedy.

Ms. Kennedy suggests adding liquid to the meat
and simmering until the liquid evaporates.
At this point,
the meat is cooked through,
but not falling apart.
Next, she continues cooking,
until the fat (lard) has been rendered.

The liquid I will be using
is a citrus and cumin scented mixture,
an idea I got from Lisa Fain,
 of Homesick Texan blogdom.

For an absolutely decadent description
of carnitas from Lisa,
please CLICK HERE.
You'll be glad you did.

After cooking the meat,
you end up with fork-tender pork pieces.
They're browned on the outside from the pork fat
and they're amazingly pull-apart tender inside
 from the 2-hour citrus sauna.

Now, let Rosie show you
how to make something wonderful.

Take a pork butt.
Despite the name,
pork butt is not from anywhere near the buttocks.
Pork butt is a shoulder cut.
Boston butt is a different name for the same cut.
This cut of meat is from the thicker section of the shoulder
where there is more intense marbling.
It is an excellent choice for pulled pork and barbecue.
"Shoulder" cuts, including picnic shoulder
are from the thinner, triangular shaped end of the shoulder.
Both butt and shoulder cuts need long, slow cooking
and are excellent for barbecue and stew meat.
They can be used interchangeably.

My butt is bone-in.
Take a very sharp knife and
 start scraping against the bone,
separating the meat.

Tease the meat away from that blade of bone.

Turn the meat over and
slide the knife against the bone to remove the meat.

Release the bone.
Notice the meat is in one piece.

  Examine the bone.
Throw it into your backyard canal
to chum up the water for when your boys go fishin'.

 Middle Hawthorne went out and caught this drum.

Oh, sorry.
Where was I?

Oh yeah.
Back to the carnitas.
Chop the meat into 2-inch pieces or thereabouts.

Here's where the Homesick Texan's citrus thingie came in:
juice from 3 oranges
juice from 3 limes
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Kosher salt

Put the pork pieces into a big pot.
Add minced garlic.

A teaspoon of Kosher salt.

A teaspoon of cumin.

Juice of 3 limes and 3 oranges
with pulp.

Add water to barely cover.

Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
Simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
Do NOT touch the meat.
Leave it.
Walk away.

After two hours,
most of the liquid will have evaporated.

Turn heat to medium high
and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally,
 for about 45 minutes,

or until all liquid has evaporated,
the pork fat has rendered,
and the meat has browned.

Set aside.

You know me -
I want every bit of flavor in that pan.
Turn heat to medium.
I left a few pieces of fat in the pan
and start scraping the goodie bits.

Add in a little broth.

Keep scraping.

Let it reduce a bit to intensify the flavors.

I'm sure a nice cabernet sauvignon can't hurt.

Cook and scrape.

Pour that reduced, concentrated yumminess over the carnitas.

Next, I lightly fried a corn tortilla.
Drain on paper towels.

I served the carnitas with my homemade salsa
and a cole slaw with a tangy buttermilk dressing.
That little pool on the left of the cole slaw
is some extra buttermilk dressing -
terrific for dipping the pork.

Cole slaw recipe up next.
Stay tuned.

1 comment:

zzzadig said...

Looks like a great deviation from the classic lard method, I'll give 'er a try. Carnitas is how I judge a new Mexican restaurant...most fail, but when they don't, yum, my favorite.