Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pork Carnitas and Carnitas Tacos - Cathy

This truly fabulous recipe is from a Sunset magazine article in 2000 about tacos in the Southwest.  The Pork Carnitas recipe from La Taqueria in San Francisco is the one that we really went crazy for and have been making it often ever since.  

These carnitas are the real deal: slow-cooked, then finished up in the oven until they are crispy, flavorful bits, and the flavor is to die for--really, really amazing. It is always a huge hit every time we serve it and vanishes like crazy as people keep walking back to pick at it some more even after they are done eating. 

The recipe is not at all difficult; just a bit time-consuming but so worth it.  So plan on being home for a few hours and make lots--it freezes wonderfully.  You could also start this in a slow-cooker, but with less water.  Let it simmer pretty much all day, then finish up in the oven.  Or, if you have a pressure cooker you could start it off in there, cooking until very tender, then again finishing up in oven.  In that case also you should  use a lot less water.  

Any way you do it, TRY THIS!!  So ridiculously good!

Try serving with The Orange Sauce (aka "Crack Sauce") and Two Minute Pomegranate Margaritas

what you will need:

1 boneless pork shoulder or butt (4-5 lbs.)
2 onions, (1 lb. total) peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery (including leaves), rinsed and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
about 1 tsp. salt, to taste 
1/2 cup milk

Rinse pork and pat dry.  Put into a 6-8-quart pot.  Add onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and enough water to cover meat--2 1/2 to 3 1/2 quarts.                         

Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With slotted spoons or tongs, transfer pork to a large baking pan, reserving cooking juices.  Use 2 forks to pull meat into large chunks.  

Pour milk over meat.

Bake pork until drippings are browned, about 1 hour, stirring and scraping pan occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour reserved juices through a strainer into a bowl; discard solid residue.  Skim and discard fat. 

 Return juices to pot.  Boil over high heat until reduced to about 2 cups; around 45 minutes.

When pork drippings are browned, add 1 cup of the reserved juices; scrape drippings free and stir meat, breaking into smaller pieces (but not too small!).  

Bake until juices have evaporated and drippings are browned again--about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Repeat step, using remaining juices, and cook until meat edges are crisp and browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer.  Season to taste with salt. 

For tacos:

  Fresh corn tortillas, warmed
  Finely sliced cabbage
  Sliced radishes
  Chopped avocados
  Chopped tomatoes
  Chopped cilantro
  Chopped onions
  Crumbled cotija cheese (feta is a reasonable substitute)
  Lime wedges
  Hot sauce, pico de gallo, salsa or all of them!
Oh boy, I'm really hungry now.  Make this soon and I'll come over and help you eat it!

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