Search This Blog

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

from Cook's Illustrated (May/June 2008, page 13)

Some of my own cook's notes are in italics...

1 3 1/2 - 4 pound boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8 think, cut into 2-inch chunks (My grocer didn't have boneless. I trimmed a bunch of meat off and left a bunch on the bone and cooked that right along with everything else. The rest of the meat just fell right off the bone with no problem.)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 cups water
1 medium orange, halved
(I think next time I'm going to add a minced seeded jalapeno to the mix just to see what happens)

Heat oven to 300 F. Combine pork, salt, pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. (I failed to get an orange at the store, so I just used 1/3 cup orange juice from my fridge and added some dried orange peel from my spice cabinet for good measure.) Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking. (Flipping during cooking... yeah, right. I put this bad boy in the oven then left the house for two hours. It was fine. Some of the pieces were a little stuck together, but they came right apart.)

Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) (that's your disclaimer for the day, ladies and gentlemen) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heat safe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid. (My pork rendered more liquid than probably normal because of the bone and extra fat and meat. My sauce never got to the thick and syrupy stage. I dont' know how crucial this is... in my oh so humble opinion... it's no biggie.)

Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover entire surface) (And if you're me, you may cover the entire surface twice.) Place on lower-middle rack of oven and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, slip pieces of meat and continue to broil, looking for the same results. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Ideas for serving & garnishes:

Warm flour or corn tortillas (Do you know how to warm corn tortillas? Spray with Pam and wrap in foil and place in the oven for just a little while.)
Lime wedges
Pico De Gallo (tomatoes, onion, cilantro & jalapeno chiles)
One Minute Salsa
Slices or chucks of avocado
Rice (flavored with some fresh cilantro and lime juice)
Use as stuffing for enchiladas or tamales (and if you make your own tamales, please come and see me!!)

No comments: