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Carnitas


snowangel
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I was thinking about this before I went on vacation, but I'm not sure if anyone already suggested it. Anyway...

Modifying Jaymes's method, I'd be interested to hear what people could do with a pressure cooker. You should be able to get very quick tender meat and good flavor penetration. You'd probably have to fry the meat in a separate pan with some lard afterwards, however. since the liquid wouldn't cook off. I wonder if you could cut down the carnitas time to 15-30 minutes in this way.

Beats me, and I probably shouldn't venture an opinion since I've never worked with a pressure cooker.

But if, as you say, the liquid wouldn't cook off, I don't think it'd work out the same. The way mi amiga mexicana taught me to do it, you only partially cover the pot in order to help the liquid reduce. The point is to wind up with that heavily-flavored, concentrated stuff that coats and absorbs, and then fry. So although a pressure cooker might produce something quicker, and tasty, and maybe even tastIER, I wouldn't think it'd be the same.

Although interesting thought..... let us know if you try it.

PS - are you still on vacation?

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I did the carnitas this weekend, and between SO, myself, and 2 kitkids, they are toast. I did Jaymes' recipe, except I added a 1/2 can of coconut milk once they were headed for the oven. It worked! Nice crunchy, glazy coating, with scrumptious melty pork inside.

andiesenji's pitas worked really good...SO wants more on Thursday!

And I did put palm vinegar with orange and lime juice and 2airplane size bottles of dark tequila.

:wub: Food of the Gods!!

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andiesenji's pitas worked really good...SO wants more on Thursday!

I forgot to mention, you can also use this dough to make big soft pretzels, just form into a rope, cut in about 12 inch sections, form into the knot shape, brush tops with egg wash and dip into coarse salt, poppy seed or sesame seed, then bake as you would the plain pita.

I also make mini pita, two-bite size for stuffing with various things, such as home made pimento cheese, (made with peppadews)... etc.

Sounds like your carnitas was a super hit!!

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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2airplane size bottles of dark tequila.

What size plane? 747? :laugh::laugh::laugh: (Sorry, that slipped out.)

Did any coconut taste come through?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I can't believe that this thread has been going on for almost two years and I've never read it. Shame on me.

My favorite is probably (and I say probably because really selecting a true "favorite" would be difficult) "Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book" by Maria Teresa Bermudez.

Link to buy "Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book" by Maria Teresa Bermudez on Amazon.

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I just have to chime in with a great big THANK YOU to Jaymes :wub:

I tried your recipe this weekend and it was a huge hit! Delicious! When we sat down and started eating, there was just no talking for at least 10 minutes - just eating and enjoying . . . finally my SO says "oof, this is excellent!" and we had a laugh about our gluttony. We'll be eating carnitas again soon, I'm sure!

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I can't believe that this thread has been going on for almost two years and I've never read it. Shame on me.
My favorite is probably (and I say probably because really selecting a true "favorite" would be difficult) "Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book" by Maria Teresa Bermudez.

Link to buy "Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book" by Maria Teresa Bermudez on Amazon.

Just in case anyone decides to order this, want to add a disclaimer.

This is a small, cheap, unpretentious, unassuming paperback. It's not really a 'cookbook' as such; more a recipe collection. Anyone familiar with Mexican cooking would probably find it extremely basic; even unimaginative. And it's almost exclusively Northern Mexico/border cooking at that. Experienced cooks of Mexican food will undoubtedly find it too simple, and boring, and be disappointed. Also, Maria tries to use ingredients readily available in the U.S. so, for example, few recipes call for Mexican cheese. They usually call for cheddar or jack.

But it's such a friendly, homey little book, that for some reason, I really like it.

PS - Thanks chiquita linda for letting me know that the carnitas were a hit. Makes my day. :rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thanks to all for this thread including snowangel for starting it, jaymes for contributing her recipe and all others for their commentary/results!

I made a kicking batch of carnitas last night. All I could think of while eating it was "pork candy". (I think some other egulleteer coined this in reference to the chewy bits of Carolina bbq--but it works here too).

I made mine all on the stovetop in a dutch oven. Added the following the to the mix: 2 " cubes of untrimmed pork shoulder, juice of 1 orange, 1 lime, 2 cups light beef stock, water to cover, oregano, a little cumin, ground red chile, garlic, a little brown sugar and pepper. Let it simmer away, partially covered for 2 hrs, then took off cover and let liquid boil down (took ~ 3 hrs). Towards the end I stirred and scraped, and got nice 'pulled' pork that was partially browned and crisped.

So--I forged no new ground in terms of ingredients or techniques but it sure came out well. As mentioned by others, the only trick is not to eat it up all at one! :smile:

Viva carnitas!!!

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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OK folks. Carnita horror story to follow.

It all started when I got two packages of pork fat to make lard. I needed some lard for my pantry and wanted to add pictures to the method in RecipeGullet and that seemed like a good project since I was telecommuting this past week. Well, when I opened up the packages, that had looked perfectly acceptable on the surface, underneath is all of this meat. I didn't want meat! I wanted nice dense white pork fat so that I could do the stovetop method and get some pastry lard with the first dipping!

I started the arduous task of trimming. What was supposed to be enough pork fat for one of my larger dutch ovens ended up being enough for a smallish saucepan. Now I have this heap of meat with a lot of fat still attached. I whacked that up into pieces and threw it into the big dutch oven originally planned for the lard. I didn't have all of the ingredients I would have liked but I didn't want to waste a lot on this ill defined mess so I just dumped in a can of chicken stock and coconut milk, juice from what limes and lemons I had, and bunged it into the oven at 250. That went along nicely last night and was starting to get to the frying stage when I decided that I couldn't stay up any later so I turned the oven off and let it be. Early this morning when I got up, I switched the oven back on. I check it and it is frying along nicely. I go to stir it around. I touch the wooden spoon to the stuff...

BOOM!

A chunk of pork comes flying out with its attendant fat, lands on the oven door, the fat barely missing my arm. I think that this is a fascinating phenomenon so I decide to poke it again.

BOOM!

Ok. Hm. Now I have a nice splatter of pork fat on my nightshirt and a couple of pieces of pork on the floor. The trajectory is improving. But... why oh why is this happening? Any self respecting SSB has to get to the bottom of these things. So... I poke it again.

BOOM!

(No one ever said that SSBs have any common sense. Well, actually, we do. It is just that intense curiosity often devours common sense.)

With about five pieces of pork and its attendent fat on the floor and a rather painful patch on my forearm, I decide to pack it in and close the (now a mess) oven and let it cool down. Hey, it was only set to 250. What is going on here?

Anyway, I now have this big pot full of crispy pieces of pork (I wouldn't really call them carnitas) and a lot of pork fat to figure out what to do with. Maybe nothing. Anyway, I tried to salvage a waste product and it was a fun :wacko: experience. I now have a scientific mystery to noodle on. (WTF could make chunks of pork launch themselves?) And I am going to find a better place to buy pork fat.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I think you are on the right track ExtraMSG. Here is my theory... The "rest" in the oven overnight formed some kind of film on the chunks of meat that were there. The liquid was just about gone at that point. That may or may not have anything to do with it. Then as it heated up later, some of the chunks made little "steam bombs" with the moisture inside of the chunks becoming superheated. Remember, I didn't touch the pot or otherwise disturb the contents. All I did was turn the oven back on.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :raz:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh dear Lord. I made a batch of carnitas tonight (my first batch ever) and they were heaven. I didn't even make them properly (they simmered and boiled a good part of the way), but they ended up so tender. I put in around 2 1/2 pounds of cubed pork shoulder in my dutch oven, threw in the juice of one orange, one lime and one lemon; some tequila; 3 bay leaves; some beef better than bouillion, and covered all with water. Once the broth cooked off, I shredded them, since that's how I prefer them, but will try them crisped up in the oven next time. I served them with flour tortillas, guac, pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa. They were a touch salty, so I'll have to reduce the bouillion next time, but overall these at least tie with the best carnitas I've ever had.

Gourmet Anarchy

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Oh dear Lord. I made a batch of carnitas tonight (my first batch ever) and they were heaven. I didn't even make them properly (they simmered and boiled a good part of the way), but they ended up so tender. I put in around 2 1/2 pounds of cubed pork shoulder in my dutch oven, threw in the juice of one orange, one lime and one lemon; some tequila; 3 bay leaves; some beef better than bouillion, and covered all with water. Once the broth cooked off, I shredded them, since that's how I prefer them, but will try them crisped up in the oven next time. I served them with flour tortillas, guac, pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa. They were a touch salty, so I'll have to reduce the bouillion next time, but overall these at least tie with the best carnitas I've ever had.

Congratulations JennotJenn

Onward and upward!! Your recipe sounds delish. Just consider how versatile this delectable meat can be.

I defrosted some I had frozen a couple of weeks ago, gave it a boost in the convection oven for 18 minutes.

I had no tortillas......however, I did have pita bread. Tossed the meat with pico de gallo and some homemade salsa verde. Then stuffed it into pita. topped with a dollop of crema Mexicana, Agria.

This is a serious contender, not traditional but a great "fusion" <g>

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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another vote of confidence for jaymes' carnitas recipe. after marinating 2 lbs of pork shoulder in thyme, cumin, adobo and oj overnight, i roasted for three hours with a cup of tequila and the juice of two limes. i drained off a bit of the roasting liquid to make an amazing gravy that we drizzled over chunks of pork and rice & beans. i also served with avocado salsa and lime wedges. i brought leftovers to work today. can't wait to have at 'em.

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WOW!!! Finally got time to make Jaymes' carnitas. Followed her directions to the letter.....(hey, it worked for her salsas and soup).....OMG are they fantastic!! Still nibbling on the crispy bits from the pan.

Jaymes is the goddess of Mexican cuisine for eG.......and right now my hero! The SO thinks I'm the greatest.

After we finished eating from the pan and burning our fingers, we put them in some corn tortillas with Jaymes salsa, avocado, cilantro and jalapenos. :wub::wub: I think it's safe to say, Mexican food will be on the menu a lot in the near future.

Thanks, Jaymes! :biggrin:

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Well. Like the kids say, OMG.

I am totally blown away by these accolades. Of course, let me hasten to add that this isn't "my" method -- I got the basic method from a Mexican friend, and it's been honed and refined and tweaked and adapted for personal preference for generations -- long before I ever cubed a pork shoulder. So all I can take credit for is passing it on.

But the fact that others are enjoying it as much as I do is unbelievably thrilling.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to let me know.

:rolleyes:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Here are some photos of stove-top carnitas using the water method described by Kennedy, Poore, and others. I chopped the pork (country ribs) into pieces, placed them in the pot, and added water almost (but not quite) to cover. Because the meat wasn't as fatty as it needed to be, I also added a couple tablespoons of lard. No citrus, salt, or other seasonings were added. The water was brought to a high simmer/low boil and left to evaporate, which took under an hour. After the water was gone I cranked up the heat and began turning the nascent carnitas in the remaining fat until they became brown and crispy.

Photo of carnitas cooking in pot after water has evaporated:

Carnitas%20in%20Pot--Water%20Method.jpg

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Photo of finished carnitas:

Finished%20Carnitas--Water%20Method.jpg

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Detail of finished carnitas:

Finished%20Carnitas--Detail.jpg

I haven't done a side-by-side comparison to see how the results of this method would compare with those of the "confit" approach ExtraMSG has described (which is admittedly closer to the method used by taquerias all over). But I can say that these carnitas are as good as or better than most I find at taquerias in Texas. And, even if the confit method produced better results, the convenience and ease of the water method (one pot, stovetop only, limited lard requirements) are enough to commend it for many.

Thanks to all those who have contributed to this thread.

Scott

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Thanks, Scott. Nice pics.

I actually did a side-by-side comparison not too long ago, but didn't post so I wouldn't be dominating the thread.

Essentially, I did the same method as you. I didn't want to complicate things with flavorings, etc. So I did straight lard cooked pork vs water cooked pork. I had a harder time getting the water to cook off and ended up simmering the water ones for about two hours, which was about the same as the fat simmered ones. That should make them more tender, though.

At this point, without any frying, the "confit" carnitas were clearly better. However, there was still a step left, the frying to carmelize. After this step, the water-method got a lot better. My suspicion is that fat actually seeps into the fissures in the meat and lubricates them. Imo, the fried ones are still better (and I did confirm this with a blind taste test on my wife), but it's not such a difference that covered in salsa, on a sope, in enchiladas, or whatever, you'd really be able to tell, I don't think.

However, this does lead me to believe that crisping using a method other than frying might make them too dry. So, I'd be really interested in someone doing a side-by-side comparison of fried vs broiled or something like that. I imagine they'd be just too dry broiled crisp to be to my liking, though I know a lot of people like their stuff lean.

I'm still interested in getting a second opinion on the two major methods side-by-side, though. So whenever you have time (and take more great pics)....

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I chopped the pork (country ribs) into pieces, placed them in the pot, and added water... No citrus, salt, or other seasonings were added.

Of course (to me, anyway) the main advantage of the intial boiling in liquid is the fact that you can add flavor at that step with such things as citrus juices, chiles, tequila, beer, etc. Not sure how that would affect your comparisons between the two methods.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes, you can actually use flavors in the "confit" method. You just have to be a little more careful. The first time I did it, I used orange juice and zest (actually, quartered oranges) and went ahead and fried using the same fat (at above 350). The oil was black by the time I was done. But subsequently it's been fine. You can either use two different sets of oil for the frying and simmering, or you can brown first, then simmer. People do the same thing for confit, adding flavors to the duck fat. Obviously it's not going to be the same, but then again, the water method isn't going to produce the same texture as the fat method. Pick your pleasure. Some flavors should be carried better by the fats, while some should be carried better by the water, too, I would think. I have no idea which would be which, though.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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Pick your pleasure.

And that's really the main thing, ain't it? It's all good! :rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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My SO won't stop asking for Jaymes' carnitas. Coming from him, thats seriously high praise indeed. I don't think my waistline can handle another batch anytime soon though. I have no willpower when it comes to those lovely, tender, juicy, flavor packed nuggets from heaven. Such is the way of life, eh? Thats why they have gyms. Now if I only went........

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Of course (to me, anyway) the main advantage of the intial boiling in liquid is the fact that you can add flavor at that step with such things as citrus juices, chiles, tequila, beer, etc.

I think it's just a matter of what you're after. The carnitas I've had in the US and Mexico have usually been very straightforward affairs--pork cooked in lard, sometimes with some orange thrown in for a citrus undertone. That was the kind of result I was shooting for--pure, intense, crispy, succulent chunks of pork.

From the universal acclaim of your recipe I've seen here, it's obvious that using a flavorful brew instead of water can produce some very tasty results. From the pictures and descriptions, they seem to be somewhat different from the kind of carnitas I'm most familiar with (and was trying to recreate). But if they taste great--as so many have testified--that's all that matters.

Thanks, again, to all who have posted their thoughts, experiences, and images. And remember: El Cerdo es Bueno. http://www.elcerdoesbueno.com/

Scott

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