Carnitas are easy to make! Had I known this, I would’ve saved so much money on super burritos over the years. (Rarely do I take any kind of meat besides carnitas in my burritos.) I really can’t get over how beautifully this meal turned out. I’d had this recipe from the Homesick Texan in the back of my mind for some time (how could I not — it’s just so easy!) and one evening I just decided to go for it. Three hours later I was eating better than I ever had.
I believe the proportions are 1 cup of orange juice + 3 cups of water for 3 lbs of pork butt. You just cut the pork into strips, leaving the fat on, and cover it in a pot with those liquids. Salting the pork well at this stage is also key.
A low and slow simmer for two hours, uncovered, and you’re ready to turn the heat up to boil off the liquid. This should take about 45 minutes or less. Stirring near the end of this cooking time is crucial lest the precious carnitas start to burn. Apparently the fat slowly seeps out as the water evaporates during the initial simmering period so that the pork is eventually being cooked in its own fat. Once you turn up the heat the pork caramelizes in the sugar from the orange juice and the rendered fat. About 15 minutes before the pork was done cooking I deglazed the pan with a healthy splash (or three) of brandy, because why the hell not? It’s delicious. More sugar = more caramelization = more of what I love in carnitas. Turn off the heat, adjust the seasoning and you’re good to go. These carnitas could be eaten on their own (as Andrea demonstrated when she came over later that night with a few drinks in her and ate what was left straight out of the tupperware :P ) or in a simple taco or burrito. When you’ve put in that much work (if you could even call it that), why not just serve them in a really plain fashion? Showcase the meat — that’s the whole point anyway.
So how did I decide to serve up this godly, mind-blowing creation? Well, I was reminded of this time that I was over for dinner at Gina and Aaron’s last year. They had just made Rick Bayless’s banana leaf roasted pork, and they served it with some lovely pickled red onions in some very simple soft tacos. I just found that to be so elegant (yet tasty) that I had to rip off the idea. During the two hours of simmering I had some time to kill, so I decided to quick pickle some shallots using leftover pickling liquid from that time I pickled quail eggs (why not save your pickling liquid — it doesn’t spoil and clearly comes in handy), Mexican pickled jalapenos in their juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and some coriander and peppercorns I had lying around.
I simmered the shallots in the pickling mixture for about 15 minutes before pouring everything into a jar and popping it in the fridge for an hour. With the help of some chopsticks to extract the shallots from the other mess I had some beautiful pickled shallots, ready to serve, by the time the carnitas were done! I’d also, to my great surprise, found some ripe avocados at Health Haven on Divis. I made a lemon-y, cilantro-y guacamole to serve with the carnitas and pickled shallots.
Three strong flavors united on a soft, lightly toasted corn tortilla. Happy Saturday!
I also fed the housemates and maybe a char or two. Then we partied.
Sorry I was gone for a bit btw. Work and such; you understand.