Thursday, July 7, 2011

Carnitas

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Carnitas
One of the best foods I was introduced to when I first moved to Mexico has to be Carnitas. 

I had no idea what they were, nor had I ever seen large pieces of meat presented as a table centerpiece on a platter with lots of tacos dorados and chicharrones.

I immediately asked Hubby what they were, to which he simply responded, "Carnitas."

"Honey, I can see that it's meat!  But what kind of meat is it?"

That's when I got Hubby to spill the beans.  No, not the beans that were at the table.  The beans about Carnitas.  And believe me, Hubby knew plenty.  He learned to make them at his high school which was very much like a 4-H club.

Traditional Jalisco Carnitas are made by cooking a whole pig (minus the head), which has been cut into large pieces and seasoned only with salt, in a special large copper pot called a cazo, filled with manteca (pork lard).  

Once the Carnitas have been completely cooked in the manteca, they are then bathed with a mixture of orange juice and milk.  This helps to de-glaze the cazo and to caramelize the Carnitas.

Carnitas are served whole, so you can experience the joy of pulling the meat apart with your bare hands, armed with nothing but a warm, corn tortilla.

Now as much as I love Carnitas, eating meat that has spent most of the day swimming in lard is not something I want to do often.  So...I've devised a much easier (and slightly healthier) way to enjoy carnitas.


Easy Carnitas 

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds lomo de cerdo (pork shoulder roast), cut in chunks
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig cilantro (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons lard, shortening or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
Place the pork, onion, garlic and cilantro in a small (2 quart) stockpot.  Fill the stockpot with enough water to cover the pork (5 to 6 cups); season with salt and pepper.  Now, I know I said Carnitas are only seasoned with salt, but since we're not cooking them in lard, we need to add a little flavor.

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Cover the stockpot and cook the meat over medium-high heat until most of the water has evaporated and the meat can easily be pulled apart.  Drain any excess water.

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Once you've removed all of the water, add the 2 tablespoons of lard or vegetable oil to the meat. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the pork meat turns a deep golden brown.

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Stir in the orange juice and milk to de-glaze the stockpot.  Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

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Serve with Frijoles Adobados, Mexican Rice, Ensalada de Nopales and plenty of warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!!!

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13 comments:

  1. I love carnitas but I am sure the carnitas I have here are not nearly as authentic as the real thing. That looks so awesome. I may try your healthier version. :-)

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  2. Thanks for giving a healthier version.  The excessive use of lard in a lot of recipes scares me, lol!

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  3. You are truly the Betty Crocker of Mexico!  These do look really good! 

    I must be anti-Betty Crocker with pork.  I have no luck when it comes to making it on the stove.  I will have to do the meat in a crockpot first or something.  Mine always turns too tough.

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  4. Thank You Leslie, I'm going to try this, this week. I usually do mine in the oven. It scares me to just fry big chunks like that, I get nervous that they're raw. But boiling them then frying seems way faster then a few hours in the oven. One of our friends years ago said that after they are done in the oven to pour a some dr. pepper over it and put it back in the oven. I never tried it though.

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  5. My mouth is watering right now.  I love your recipes and accompanying photos!

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  6. I loooove Carnitas! I usually make then every year for Super Bowl (somehow that became a tradition), but I could eat them anytime! Yours are definitely making my mouth water :D

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  7. Yum! They look so good. I'm not a big fan of pork, although I do make pork tamales because the meat is more tender than the beef. Your carnitas look so good that I'm ready to grab a tortilla and go through the screen. So if you see a hand reaching out, it's me, gloria! Tee hee. Take care.

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  8. Leslie, I cannot wait to make your carnitas recipe!!!  Thank you!

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  9. hm i wonder if hubby  would eat this!lol..we are doing carnitas for my daughter's 2nd bday party...husband knows a guy here that knows how to do it the traditional way..but i will try to make it this way and see what he thinks!thanx :)

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  10. Desertdreaming56July 10, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Carnitas are one of my favorite dishes.  Your recipe is similar to my brother's, who taught me how to make them.  Though he passed away a few years ago, every time we make them, it reminds me of that wonderful day we spent in Colorado together, and he giving me all his "secret" recipes.  He was the greatest cook I've ever met, and your post brought back so many wonderful memories for me.  Thank you so much for sharing.

    Joni

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  11. I will definate try this one this weekend.  IO usually pin yur receipes in my pinterest

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  12. I use pork shoulder for my carnitas as well. Didn't know about the orange juice and milk... I usually just use leftover bits from my pork shoulder roast, with some of the pork leavings (instead of lard). I'll have to try working with that a bit.

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