Sunday, November 27, 2011

Carnitas

In Texas, we believe in good food - really good food. Especially when we are talking Tex Mex. I adore carnitas (pork that is slow roasted or braised - and found on most Tex Mex menus) but have never made it. It's often found cut into small chunks, or even pulled. As long as it's not fatty, I love it anyway it comes.

I feel like I keep singing the praises of the blogger Lisa Fain and her fabulous blog, The Homesick Texan but it's only because her recipes rock. If you're a cookbook lover, you should order hers. I don't own it but I've heard it's fabulous.

These carnitas are cooked so simply it's almost ridiculous. You take a relatively cheap, fatty piece of meat and let it simmer in water and OJ (no seasoning but salt!) until all the liquid cooks off. Then you let it cook even longer in just it's own fat. The fat renders out, the meat is tender and not grissly at all, and it's amazing. Truly, amazing. And your house smells so so good.

Don't trim your meat prior - this is a recipe where fat is good. I cut off anything that looks remotely like fat so this was hard for me but I promise it will all cook off and ensure your meat isn't dry.

We made burritos bowls with the meat - cilantro lime rice, black beans, shredded lettuce, sour cream, cheese, etc. You could make enchiladas, soft tacos, or just eat them with a fork (which is what I did the next day...). Throw it on while you're home one afternoon and just let it do it's thing.

And when your mom walks in your house a few hours later after you've invited her over for dinner, she'll immediately say, "Oooh, what smells so good?" and you'll smile and know your dinner is going to rock.

Carnitas
3 pounds of pork butt, with plenty of fat
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt

Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.

After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 45 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.

When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart).

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