Monday, June 20, 2011


Carnitas or “little bites” is a Mexican dish that is a pork shoulder that has been braised in lard.  Now when your watching your waist line or trying to get it to shrink like I am, slow roasting something in a big old tub of fat doesn’t sound very appealing. The alternative? Searing the pork until it’s dark brown and very crispy, then slowly braising in a crockpot filled with yummy goodness. The result? Moist, flavorful pork that can be served up on some corn tortillas with chipotle mayo and some tomatoes. This recipes make a TON of meat. I’m always thinking ahead though and I love recipes that freeze well. We ate carnitas one night, then I used it to make Posole another night and still had plenty that went in the freezer for another time.

What You Need:

6-8 lb pork shoulder
2 tbs veg oil
2-4 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade or low sodium)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1/2 tbs chili powder
1/2 tbs oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
2 chipotles in adobo and a spoonful of the sauce

What To Do:

Remove the pork from the bone and cut into large 2-3 inch chunks and salt well. I probably used a goodDSCF5952 2 tbs of salt to season my pork. I know it sounds like a lot but it helps to pull the moisture from the pork and it adds tons of flavor. It does not making the dish salty at all, I promise!

DSCF5958Place a large cast iron or heavy bottomed bottom pot over high heat. Once screaming hot, add in the veg oil and start to cook the pork. Place the pieces in the pan in a single layer. Be sure not to over crowed the pan as you’ll end up steaming the meat and it won’t brown. Cook the pork over high heat until deep brown and caramelized and each side. Remove to paper towel to drain. Continue cooking the pork in batches until it’s all done. When all the pork is cooked and removed from the pan, turn the heat off and pour in 2 cups of the stock. Use a whisk or spoon to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place the pork into the bottom of a crockpot. Pack it in as tightly as possible. Sprinkle the pork with the spices and the chipotles, then use the stock that you deglazed your pan with to just barely cover the pork. Use more stock or water only if needed. You don’t want to cover the pork completely, just barely bring the liquid to the top. Place the lid on and cook on low for about 5 or 6 hours or on high for about 3 or 4 hours. The meat will be soft and almost start to fall apart. Remove the meat from the liquid and either cut it into pieces or what I did is take my tongs to almost “shred” the pork. Strain the liquid and set aside. Return the meat to the crockpot and add about a cup of the liquid back into the meat. Give it a stir and put the lid back on. Let sit on low for 1 more hour. Checking it frequently and adding in more liquid only if necessary. You want to keep the meat moist, but not swimming in the liquid. When read to serve, warm/char some corn tortillas over a flame or in a dry pan and place a bit of the meat on it. You can top with just about anything you’d like but I used some chipotle mayo and diced tomatoes. Salsa verde would be an excellent choice too.

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