Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Carnitas Tutorial - All Together Now

After having pressed you to make carnitas I thought I'd put the porcine particulars all in one place. Previously I had information all spread out in different posts across a span of several days and going back and forth between posts is annoying at best. There are recipes all over the place, and perhaps someday some test kitchen somewhere will try them all out and declare one "right" way to get carnitas on the table, but until then? Here is how easy it can be.
When I read in the comments section of some posts about how difficult it is for many people to source protein that meets a certain standard of animals being humanely raised and then slaughtered for market in a way that limits suffering, I am reminded every time of how very fortunate I am to live in Austin, home of Wheatsville Coop.

Wheatsville has two butchers on staff who really know their stuff. I spent quite a bit of time speaking with Bryan there the other day and expressed to him my gratitude for taking time to source a variety of proteins. This means I can purchase meat to eat that comes out of a system of ranching and processing running completely counter to the CAFO monsters our country's current agricultural policies allow. Bryan takes the time to locate and procure that protein so I can simply show up at the Wheatsville meat counter and have good choices to make. I want to underscore how important that is to me and how grateful I am to have Wheatsville as "my" store. If I want to have responsible producers out there I have to be willing to support them with my food dollars. Wheatsville, through the efforts of Bryan and others, makes that a real option for my family.

Carnitas, Agrodolce Style

Printable recipe here

Step 1: Get yourself 3-5 pounds of Niman Ranch pork roast. [If you aren't lucky enough to have a store that will get that for you, try ordering online.] I have been using bone-in shoulder roasts. I am under the impression if these were sliced a certain way it would produce blade chops. Sliced another way, it is just right for a braise.Step 2: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the meat into strips about 3 inches by 1 inch. Don't get too fussy about this part - you want uniform size so the meat will all be done at the same time. Leave the fat in there, you can take any fat solids that do not cook into the liquid out of the dish later when you shred the meat.Step 3: Salt and pepper the pork. Put the pork into a dutch oven with 1 cup of water, 2 bay leaves, the juice of one lime, the juice and skin of one orange (seeds removed), and a peeled halved onion. Bring this to a simmer stovetop, then cover and place into your preheated oven.Step 4: After an hour in the oven, turn the meat and continue cooking for one hour longer.Step 5: After the second hour, the pork should be tender, falling off the bone. Remove the meat to a bowl and take the bay leaves, orange, and onion from the pot. Bring the remaining liquid to a brisk boil until reduced to about one cup. At this point adjust the seasonings and add salt/pepper and other elements as you like to customize the liquid.After making the dish once with nothing added to the liquid, which produces a pork intense flavor we really liked, I did add a little heat in the form of chipotle sauce the second go-round.

Step 6: All that is left now is to shred the meat a bit, toss it in the reduced braising liquid, and broil it to crispy browned perfection.After a couple of tries, I got the best results by placing cooling racks on a foil lined cookie sheet. I then placed the drenched shredded meat atop the racks for the best crisping, and positioned the oven rack on the second rung down from the top before broiling at the highest heat setting. Do start checking the meat at 5 minutes. You want it browned, not overly charred.

Remove and serve with tortillas, and any/every other wonderful thing you think would make the best ever soft carnitas tacos.My go-to combination includes crema, arugula sprouts, cherokee purple tomatoes and caramelized onions.Other folks like their crema separately as a dip, after rolling a combination of cotija cheese, onions and meat.Once you get yours rolled, it matters not. What went inside and in what order is your little secret.There you have it. Carnitas for the conscientious omnivore. ¡Desfruta de tus Niman puerco, y'all!

No comments: