Pork Carnitas

You know, I’ve never been able to buy pork shoulder from my regular grocery store, which is such a shame because there is such a proliferation of braising recipes I want to try that call for it. Costco carries whole ones, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to purchase quite such a large chunk of meat for our little family, considering our limited freezer space, and the same goes for many of their enormous cuts of beef. However, we’ve had pretty good luck cooking their boneless country rib options in both the pork and beef. I seem to be accumulating quite a few recipes for dealing with these cuts, so look for quite a few posts discussing them in days to come.

My go-to recipe for dealing with these pork ribs in the past few years has been braising it Hawaiian style. But I think one of my new favorite applications is making carnitas. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Essentially you braise the meat until it is meltingly tender and all the liquid has evaporated, then you sear it a little bit in the fat that is left behind, to give it even more flavor and texture. I served with homemade flour tortillas, jack cheese and a simple rice salad with corn and black beans, but you could take the toppings in any direction you like, or use the meat for quesadillas, burritos or what you will. Frankly, thinking back on this pork is making me hungry, so I won’t drag out the post any longer… dinner time!

Pork Carnitas

3 lb boneless pork shoulder or country ribs, lightly trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (leave some fat on)
Olive oil
1 T salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 tsp ancho chile powder
Salt and pepper

Drizzle a heavy wide pan (I used my big red Le Creuset) with olive oil, season the pork with salt, pepper and ancho, and sear on all sides. Pour in just enough water to cover the meat, add the garlic and onion, and bring to a boil, uncovered. When the liquid reaches a boil, lower the heat, and continue to cook at a gentle simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, about two hours. At this point, the meat should be cooked through but not falling apart. Lower the heat a little more and continue cooking the meat until all the fat has rendered out of it. Keep turning the meat until it is lightly browned all over, about 15 more minutes. Makes a lot, but the leftovers are possibly even tastier than the first day.

Source: Slightly adapted from Food Network.

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