Carnitas

2012-02-05_18-36-10_76

It has been a whirlwind, but I made it.  I just turned in my master’s thesis.  I have a job for next year.  Now, I can just enjoy the rest of this school year and relax.  And cook.

A couple years ago, my husband and I took a road trip through the U.S., and some of our favorite moments were spent in the Southwest.  Not only is the Southwest full of some sort of surreal beauty, it is also home to one of my favorite cuisines:  Tex-Mex.  Brandon was sure I would tire of it after a few meals, but after three weeks of tacos, burritos, rellanos, and enchiladas, I just wanted more.

Today’s post is for one of my all-time favorite things:  carnitas a.k.a. “little meats.”  Carnitas are fried pieces of pork, and they’re delicious.  They’re a yummy topper for nachos.  They’re terrific in a burrito.  But best of all, they’re divine in a tiny taco with little else.

Brandon often makes fun of me for “tooting my own horn,” but I just can’t help it with this recipe.  These carnitas are just the best I’ve ever tasted.  They’re sticky, sweet, salty, and rich all at the same time.  They also only require five ingredients (one being water and another being salt).

This recipe is courtesy of one of my favorite blogs, Homesick Texan.  If you haven’t checked it out, don’t hesitate.  If you love Tex-Mex as much as I do, you’ll just want to work your way through each and every recipe.

These carnitas are best left fairly bare.  I topped mine with some pickled onions and jalapenos.  Plus a dash of cilantro.  I wouldn’t serve them any other way.  The “little meats” are so rich, no cheese or sour cream is necessary—something I thought I’d never say.

Carnitas

Adapted from Homesick Texan

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of pork butt, with plenty of fat
  • 1/2  cup  orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Instructions

*Note:  Do NOT trim the fat.  The fat is necessary for the frying process, so keep it on the pork.

  1. Cut the pork into 3-inch x 1-inch strips.
  2. Put the pork in a large dutch oven with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered on low for two hours. To ensure caramelization, don’t touch the meat.
  3. After two hours, turn the heat up to medium high.  Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered—around 45 minutes. Stir periodically, to keep the pork from sticking to the pan.
  4. The pork is ready when all sides are browned and there is still a little liquid fat in the bottom of the pot.
  5. Serve the carnitas cubed or shredded on warm corn tortillas, with pickled onions and jalepenos (see below for recipe), and fresh cilantro.
  6. Serves 4-6

Pickled Red Onions and Jalepenos

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, halved, and sliced thinly
  • 2 jalepenos, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced into rings
  • red wine vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • pinch of sugar

Instructions

  1. Place red onion and jalepenos in a small dish.
  2. Add equal parts water and vinegar to cover.  Add salt and sugar, and stir to mix.
  3. Set aside for an hour.
  4. Serve.
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