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Pork: Carnitas by Polar Bear

posted by Polar Bear 10-21-101 8:22 PM

Carnitas (Pork Braised with Spices)

3-1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder (or butt)
2 c water
2 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each: black pepper; cumin; oregano; orange peel
1/4 tsp cayenne
12 large flour tortillas (optional)
1 c sour cream (optional)

Cut pork into one-inch cubes or 1/2 by 2 inch strips. Place in a large pot; add water (meat should be just almost covered); bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer.

Chop garlic and onion; add to pot with seasonings. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and meat is very tender, about two hours.

Raise heat to medium-high; saute pork until browned (add a little oil, if necessary). If desired, serve with warm tortillas and sour cream; roll up and eat like Burritos.

Variation: For browner and juicier carnitas, cook pork in 2 lb lard (omit water); substitute 1 sm sliced seedless orange for the orange peel. Remove pork with slotted spoon (discard orange slices) and drain briefly on paper towels. (This technique may seem over the top, but these actually end up no more greasy because the fat gets drained off.)

Pots and Pans:
General: Any convenient pot may be used for Steps 1 and 2, but Step 3 will be much easier and more successful if done in a nonstick pan. A carbon steel or cast iron pan may be used for Step 3, but reduce heat to medium and watch carefully. If using stainless steel, expect to deglaze a few times, as the pork will tend to stick no matter how careful you are.

Slow Cooker: Combine all ingredients in a medium (preferably 2 qt) cooker, except reduce water to 1/2 c. Simmer 8 to 10 hours on low (use high for the first hour). Remove pork with slotted spoon. Quickly boil down liquid in a wide skillet (preferably nonstick) to about 1/2 c. Add pork and saute until browned.

Pressure Cooker: Combine pork, onion, garlic and seasonings in a medium (4 to 6 qt) cooker; add 1 c water. Bring slowly to 15 lb pressure and cook 18 minutes; let cool 10 minutes and release lid. Brown as described in the preceding paragraph.

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