Sunday, January 15, 2012

Citrus Carnitas

This recipe is really tasty and another way to use the very versatile pork shoulder or pork butt. For the tortillas I used homemade corn tortillas made with masa flour, but you could also use whole wheat tortillas
While this recipe has several elements, they can be used in multiple ways. For instance, I had made the coleslaw to eat with fried chicken the day before and the left over tortillas could be used in the chicken enchiladas or baked until crisp and used to top tortilla soup. The key to putting this all together is planning. I start my pork butt the night before. Its fall-apart tender by morning and then I just have to cook off the liquid. Assembly is easy so its just a matter of getting all the parts together for the party.

3 to 5lb pork shoulder or butt
1 large orange
2-3 limes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 T ground cumin
1 jalapeno, cored, seeded and finely chopped(optional)
1 t sea salt, plus more to taste

fresh coleslaw
chopped cilantro
pickled jalapeno slices

tortillas (corn or wheat)

The How To's:
Place your pork, fat side up in a crockpot. Squeeze the orange and limes over the meat. Spread the crushed garlic over the fat, sprinkle with the cumin, optional jalapeno and salt. Pour about a cup of water in, careful not to pour on the meat and wash off all the seasonings. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. I do this the night before. You can also prepare your garnishes and even your tortillas then so its just a matter of assembly at dinner time.

Make your coleslaw and tortillas.

When the pork is tender, remove the remaining slab of fat from the top and slip off the chunks of meat from the bone and into a cast iron pan. Pour the remaining liquid over the meat and place over high heat, allowing the liquid to start to cook off and the remaining fat to render off. When the liquid is almost gone, transfer the skillet to your oven on broil to brown and caramelize the surface of the meat. I use the convection feature on my oven for this part. The liquid will completely disappear leaving a moist meat with an almost crunchy top. Do not stir the meat during the last part so it doesn't dry out.

To serve, place a spoonful of meat on a tortilla and top with your choice of garnishes. We used coleslaw and hot sauce for this meal, but I really like the onion and cilantro flavors as well. Another option would be to serve in taco shells or as tostadas. Its a kid-friendly meal and the leftovers are superb.

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