h1

Carnitas

February 4, 2014

My mom visited out-of-town relatives during New Year’s again this year, so we continued our tradition of inviting my dad over for dinner on New Year’s Day. Listening to the year-end countdown of top-voted songs on our favorite radio station (of which 4 out of 5 of my votes made it into the top songs, yay!) and cooking pork in some form were also included in this continuation of tradition, which I felt really happy about. It makes me feel like we’re finally starting our own traditions as a family (even though it’s still just the two of us), rather than just participating in our parents’ traditions year after year. Not that I don’t enjoy carrying out traditions from my own childhood! But those are from a time before I met my husband, and it feels good to have started some of our own.

So here’s the pork recipe we picked out to make for this year’s New Year’s Day celebration. It’s printed in the Gourmet Today cookbook, and it intrigued me because I’ve never cooked anything with lard before. I wasn’t even sure where to buy lard, and it turns out it’s been right next to the butter at my grocery store the whole time… I guess if you’re not looking for something, it’s easy to not notice it even right in front of your face!

…So this was delicious. And not a difficult recipe to make, just needs time, for marinating and for cooking. I actually made a double recipe so we’d have some leftovers, but I think if I did that again I’d double the pork but only use 1.5x the lard and liquid. The final step of boiling off the liquid took significantly longer than the longest time given (supposed to be 30 to 50 minutes), and I think the meat dried out just a little bit with that extra cooking time. But it was still tender and had amazing flavor. The onions and the orange peel essentially dissolved; I couldn’t find any pieces even though they got dumped in the pot along with the pork! But I could definitely taste them. :) Good stuff. Enjoy!

Carnitas

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Pork and marinade

  • 1  navel orange
  • 2  pounds boneless pork shoulder (not lean), cut into 1- to 1½-inch cubes
  • 1  small onion, cut into 8 wedges and layers separated
  • 2  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2  teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2  Turkish bay leaves or 1 California bay leaf

Cooking

  • 1  pound (2 cups) lard
  • 2  cups water
  • 1/2  cup whole milk

Accompaniments

  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Tomatillo salsa
  • Finely chopped red onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Peel large wide strips of zest, including some white pith, from orange with a vegetable peeler. Halve orange and squeeze juice into a large bowl; add zest.
  2. Add pork, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves; toss to combine. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for at least 6 hours.
  3. Melt lard in a 4- to 5-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat. Add water, milk, and pork with marinade, bring to a simmer, and simmer gently, uncovered, skimming foam, until pork is very tender, about 1¼ hours.
  4. Increase heat to moderately high and boil pork (water and juices will evaporate and meat will start to brown), stirring occasionally, until meat is golden brown, 30 to 50 minutes.
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer pork, along with orange zest and onions, to paper towels to drain briefly; discard bay leaves and fat. Cut pork into bite-size pieces if necessary; serve with tortillas and other accompaniments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: