Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I don't speak much Spanish, but I think "carnitas" means "taco that can make Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris cry." And not because of the heat, although they do have a kick. The best thing about them, at least until I graduate, is the fact that making them is so cheap. After the money kicks in the best thing about them is the fact that they're so darn good. So how do you make 'em? Let us begin.

First, you need a big ol' hunk of fatty pork. I used a "pork shoulder picnic roast." Whatever that is. In Houston, if you happen to be in that neighborhood, the stores sell, "pork for carnitas," which makes it easy. But a big hunk o' pork is a big hunk o' pork. If it's fatty, you're in the right place.

Once the pork is procured, dice it into one inch cubes, like so:
Then salt and pepper 'em. I like using "salt" and "pepper" as verbs. It just feels right. Now for the esoteric ingredient of the day. You ever see those dusty lookin' dried peppers at the store and wondered what it is that people do with them? I'll tell you. They simmer them in salted water until they get soft. This takes 20-30 minutes. I use a combination of chili de arbol and New Mexico Red Chilis. They look like this:
The skinny ones are the chili de arbol. They're a little on the hot side.

Once you can easily pierce them with a fork, it's time for the blender. Don't burn yourself, and please don't rub your eye anytime during the handling of these things. I only show the next picture because I think our blender looks cool.
I pour some of the pepper water (a little more than pictured) in the blender to get the right consistency for the sauce it's about to become. That consistency would be about that of heavy cream. Mmmm, cream. Add salt- kosher salt is my go to rock for cooking.

Next, take the cubes o' pork and sear them until the outside is brown and the house has a smell that could convert the most fervent vegetarian. I show the next picture because the pot I cooked these things in is also very cool. And I know that people like pictures a lot more than my writing.
Once you get everything browned up, and that is an important step (it's known as the maillard effect, for all you fans of Alton Brown) take the pork out and throw in a finely diced onion. Cook it until it gets nice and soft and porky. Now it's time to add the pork back in and the braising liquid from the blender. By the way, that braising liquid makes a really good hot sauce. I add a little raw garlic, and a thimble full of champagne vinegar to it for that particular incarnation. Let the whole thing simmer for as long as you can stand it. I try for four to six hours, but I usually can't wait that long. It keeps getting better as the days go by until it's all gone. That's usually not too long around these parts. Grab yourself a tortilla, some sour cream if you're into that, and that's about it. It comes with it's own sauce. I threw a little cilantro on top since it's growing right out back and all.


HeatherRene said...

Save me some! Man, that looks good!

Ryan said...

homina...homina...homina...Dude, those look and sound amazing! You should give serious consideration to auditioning for the next Next Food Network Star. Think about it. You're a great cook, long on personality, funny and handsome to boot. (By the way, I think you'll be a great chiropractor. I suppose you're just wicked talented.)