“Si” Is For Carnitas


flour tortilla topped with puréed pinto beans, carnitas, pepper jack, salsa, sour cream, pickled red cabbage slaw, avocado, cilantro oil

I don’t know if starting your first ever blog during this time of year is a brilliant idea or stupid as shit.  On one hand,  there are so many remarkable opportunities to whip things up with Thanksgiving feast (for some of you, multiple households to visit endure) house parties, work parties, Christmas parties, and cookie exchanges.  For those of us who love to cook, this time of year is like finding the Holy Grail.

On the other hand, it’s easy to get bogged down and over-whelmed while creating all the mouth-watering dishes.  When all is said and done, the last thing that is on your mind is blogging about your three straight days in the kitchen.  Even as I write this, I just came back to the laptop from whipping up a double batch of Puerto Rican egg nog, coquita, for an upcoming Christmas party.  No rest for the wicked.

It’s times like these that it is nice to not have to slave over the stove and create something truly remarkable with very little effort.  That dish I answer “Si” to in this situation is carnitas. There is something to be said about a juicy roast that become utterly crisp at the last-minute.  End result, juicy chunks of pork, searing in its own fat and getting all crisp and browned up.  Traditionally, carnitas is braised and then lowered into a vat of hot fat to crisp up the meat.  While it sounds great in theory, does anyone really like stinking up their whole damn house with fried meat.  It is much easier to let the pork do the work for you and provide its own deep-fried goodness from the rendered fat it yields.

If you have some basics in the fridge like salsa, cheese, and sour cream, good things can happen.  It seems like I always have some house-made pickled cabbage slaw in the fridge, so that is also another boost to this meal.  You can obviously use any type of veggie that your little heart desires.  I suggest one with a bit of bite and some crunch for texture.  Pickled red onions are another stand out choice.  Go buy yourself a ripe avocado, tortilla shells, and a boneless pork butt roast and you are all set.  This is a very hands free meal, so with all your extra time, now you can go hammer out some more Christmas cookies.  Happy Holidays!

Ingredients:

 ♥For the pork:

  • 1 pork butt, about 3 lbs, 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp chili powder, ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Great Accompaniments (get crazy, you deserve it!):

  • salsa
  • pickled onions or slaw
  • avocado
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • refried pinto or black beans

To make the carnitas

Cube the pork butt into large chunks, maybe a bit larger than an inch.  Put the pork in a dutch oven or some sort of wide vessel.  To braise the pork, add just enough water to cover the pork.  Add the spices.  Instead of using pre-ground spices, I like to toast my spices whole and then grind them in my spice grinder.  If you only have pre-ground, use them, just make sure they are fresh.  Turn your burner on med and let the meat cook until the water has all about evaporated.  This will vary based on how much water is being used, but it should take about a couple of hours.  Again this low maintenance, so just come back periodically and check on it.  You don’t need to stir it, just let it simmer.

Once all of the water has evaporated, the pork chunks should start frying up in its own rendered fat.  If not much fat was given off, feel free to drizzle a couple of tablespoons of oil in there.  Scrape up the pork with a flat edged spatula to move it around and introduce different parts of the pork to the hot fat.  Don’t freak out if some of the pork sticks to the bottom, just keep scraping it up the best you can.  You’ll know it’s done when most of the pork is a nice deep brown color.  That color=deliciousness.  Taste for seasoning.  Assemble your tacos or simply eat it by the spoon full.  In all seriousness, it is hard to keep your fingers from sneaking into the pot.  Enjoy.

flour tortilla topped with puréed pinto beans, carnitas, pepper jack, salsa, sour cream, pickled red cabbage slaw, avocado, cilantro oil