I tried the carnitas recipe from this month’s issue of Cooks Illustrated. I tend to be skeptical about first-time recipes, and something that hoped to avoid deep frying the pork in lard seemed overly optimistic.
Oh my goodness.
I would be nibbling yet more, if I didn’t think I would cause myself harm.
Though the total cooking time was lengthy due to the braising, this wasn’t a high-maintenance meal. I’ll definitely be making it again. Joe browse says, “Check it out!”
Recipe under the cut. Or it would be if LJ cuts seemed to work this morning. :-/
Carnitas, from Cooks Illustrated, May/June 2008
Preheat oven to 300° F. Adjust rack to middle-lower position.
In a large Dutch oven, combine …
2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons juice from one lime
1/3 cup juice from one orange, and the pressed orange halves
1 boneless pork butt
fat trimmed to 1/8″ thick, cut into 2-inch chunks
Stir to mix well and bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The liquid should just barely cover the cubed meat.
Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat is tender and falls apart when prodded with a fork, approximately 2 hours. Gently stir meat once during cooking.
When pork is done, remove pot from oven. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat from Dutch oven to a large bowl. Set a colander over a large bowl and strain solids from remaining juices. Do not skim the fat. Discard the solids and return liquid to the pan. Place pan over high heat and simmer liquid. Stir frequently to prevent sticking or scalding. Continue until liquid is reduced to roughly one cup of thick syrupy liquid. A heat-proof spatula should leave a wide trail when dragged through the liquid. This process can take as long as 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pre-heat oven to high broil.
Tear chunks of pork in half, and re-add to the sauce. In the process, remaining pieces of fat can be removed from the pork. Stir gently, distributing sauce over the chunks of pork without totally shredding the pork.
Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Distribute chunks of pork on wire rack. Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack of oven and cook until top of meat is browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5-8 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the chunks of meat and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
Meat is best when served immediately. I prefer it as simple tacos, on a warm corn tortilla. Can be garnished with:
jalapeños (raw or pickled)