Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homemade carnitas

4 lbs of pork shoulder
sea salt
vegetable, canola, or other neutral cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Start with about 4 lbs of pork shoulder (1st photo). Cut the pork into slices about 1.5" thick and remove excess fat. Season all sides well with sea salt (2nd photo). Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a pan and brown the meat on all sides (3rd photo). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once browned, remove the meat from the pan and place in a large braising or roasting pan (4th photo). Pour a cup of water into the pan you used to brown the meat and scrape the bits off the sides. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, chile powders, cumin, and garlic and mix until blended thoroughly. Pour the mixture over the meat and add water until the meat is about 2/3 covered (5th photo). Braise in the over for 3-3.5 hours, turning the pork over every hour or so (I actually dropped the temperature to 300 about halfway through). Much of the liquid will evaporate and the pork will become so tender it will practically fall apart during the next step...
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a plate (6th photo). Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, strain the liquid into a bowl, and skim off as much fat as you can. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart into smaller pieces and return to the pan. Pour the remaining liquid back in (7th photo). Put back in the oven, raise temperature back to 350, and cook until the liquid evaporates and the pork is dark brown and crispy.
I got some avocado and lime (8th photo) and put the meat on a flower tortilla with onion and salsa verde (last photo).
Great success!!! I made this especially for Robin for her return from Paris.
I adapted this recipe (with just a few small alterations) from food is luv, who got it from David Lebovitz. Thank you very much!!! It was delicious!

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