Authentically Tasty Pork Carnitas

Carnitas 500 6487Like so much of Mexican cooking, every family has its own recipe. Nobody has “the” recipe. The one ingredient in all of course is pork.

In most of the authentic ones I’ve found, lard is another basic.

Now I know what you are going to say. Ewwww, no lard for me.

But if you will listen, we can get past this problem.

So scientifically, as I understand it, the lard is not absorbed. A chemically thing happens here. The meat has “juice” in it, aka, water. It also have some fat. If you keep the temperature fairly mild, the fat and collagen “render” out of the meat, but the lard acts as a barrier and prevents the water from escaping.

Thus at the end, you have a crispy (I’ll explain that too) outside, and an amazingly succulent, moist, literally melt-in-your-mouth interior.

Let me repeat again, the lard is not absorbed. You are using raw meat. You are not breading it like chicken. When you do that, the breading (flour and egg) do absorb the fat. That’s why the crust on fried chicken is greasy.

So if you have the nerve to give this a try, you will have the most amazing food experience ever. It literally makes your eyes bug out in pleasure.

So, are you game?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ – 3 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into large pieces at least 2×2 inches in size (do not skimp on the size, trust me)
  • 1 pound lard (if you cannot find lard at your local market, use suet)
  • ½ orange, skin on, quartered
  • 1 lime, skin on, quartered
  • 4 medium garlic cloves skinned and left whole, slightly smashed
  • 1 jalapeno stemmed and sliced into ½ inch rings, seeds left in
  • 1 medium onion, skinned and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup bacon fat

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. In a dutch oven, or similar volume oven-proof vessel, place all ingredients. Cover with parchment and foil and bake for five hours.
  3. Remove from oven and scoop out meat with a hand strainer or spider strainer. Dispose of remaining liquids and solids.
  4. Place cooked pork on a foil-lined sheet pan, place under broiler for five minutes. If the bottoms seem too wet, flip the pork and broil the other side for another minute or two. This step needs to be watched – you want the meat to caramelize without burning it or drying it out.
  5. Serve simply in a warmed flour tortilla with chopped onion and cilantro.

SERVES: 6

NOTES: You can add sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, or anything else that makes you happy. This meat simply melts. If you cut up the meat into smaller chunks, it tends to disintegrate so keep them quite large. The tenderness is shocking actually. And there is no greasy taste or feel. You might well remove them from the original pan onto some paper towel first before transferring to the sheet for the broiler. Do not skip the broiler part. It adds significantly to the full mouth pleasure and taste. Anyone who tells you to substitute broth or other liquid for the lard is not giving you good advice. You meat will not be anywhere near as moist and tender. It will be dry and chewy.

SOURCE: A Family Feast

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