There are Mexican dishes that I have prepared and others that I cannot explain why I have never prepared them. Carnitas is one of those that I had never prepared until recently. I was exploring Heather's blog, All Roads Lead to the Kitchen trying to determine which pie recipe I would make and found a recipe for Carnitas Pizza. Since pizza has been known as pizza pie it seemed a great choice and right up my alley. To make the pizza, I had to first make carnitas.
Just what are carnitas? Carnitas means "little meats" and is usually made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably, lard. The process takes a few hours but it is well worth the wait. The meat is moist and tender with crispy outer edges. We usually serve it in tortillas with some diced onion, chopped cilantro and maybe some tomatoes and guacamole. Delicious.
Heather adapted a recipe by Rick Bayless so I knew it was going to be amazing....besides, there was no oil and no lard! We were not disappointed. I can see carnitas being made often....so good and so easy. I have no idea what cut of meat I used as when I went looking for the pork shoulder or country spare ribs, I found some pork labeled "pork for carnitas". (Guess that could be rather scary!) I figured I would give it a try.
Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas
adapted from Heather at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
and Rick Bayless, Mexico One Plate at a Time
3 1/2 - 4 pounds pork shoulder cut into 4-inch slabs
1/3 cup water
Preheat oven: 375° F.
Cut the slabs of pork in half. Salt them liberally on all sides. Arrange them in a shallow roasting pan or casserole dish without crowding. It may be necessary to use two dishes. Pour 1/3 cup water around the meat. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for one hour. (If you are using two pans, pour 1/3 cup water in each pan.)
Raise the oven temperature to 450° F. Uncover the meat and cook until the liquid is completely reduced and only the rendered fat remains, about 30 minutes. Roast the meat about 20 minutes longer turning the meat every 7 to 8 minutes until lightly browned. Break the meat into fairly large pieces. Serve on a warm platter and sprinkle with salt.
Note: If the carnitas will be served in a taco or burrito, the meat should be broken down into the appropriate size.
Did I mention that the carnitas were delicious? Yum!!