Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Carnitas are traditionally slowly fried in a large copper pot filled with (delicious) lard. Since most of us don't have access to such a huge amount of lard, a large copper pot, and the courage to sit around and stir a gigantic pot full of super hot lard, this is my version of Carnitas that you can cook right on your stove top.
When you make Carnitas the traditional way, you end up with chunks of meat that are fried on the outside, yet moist and juicy on the inside. This happens because you start frying them in lard at low heat, which prevents the juices of the meat from escaping, and only until the end do you turn up the heat to crisp the outside. You simply cannot mimic this technique by just slow roasting and have the same end results. What I have done with this recipe is to slow cook the pork in a broth (or braise) that will continuously add flavor and liquid during the cooking process, but also, I save the cooking liquid and add it at the end to add even more flavor and moisture. When you braise such a large piece of pork, you will not end up with any crispness. So, after the pork has been braising for hours, and you can pull the meat off the bones, I shred it and fry it in a pan with oil until some of the pork has crisped up to a golden brown.
I will flat out tell you that these are not like the Carnitas that I grew up with, but they are dammed tasty and come close to the ones my uncles used to make when I was a kid.
1 (4lb) pork shoulder roast
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs garlic powder
2 bay leaves
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 orange (cut in half)
Mix together salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Coat pork with the mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker or large pot and place the pork on top. Add the orange. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 7 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 3.5 hours.
When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks.
In a skillet, heat a table spoon of oil. Add the shredded pork to the oil and cook until the strips are lightly browned on the ends. Place all of the browned meat in a separate dish and use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.