Carnitas

Here’s how I make carnitas.

Ingredients:

7 lbs boneless pork butt or shoulder, 9 lbs if bone-in
10 lbs of lard, or as our amigos del sur call it, manteca [Note: Try to buy this fresh. You can get it at carnicerias usually. As a last resort use the packaged kinds.]
8 bay leaves
2 tbspn cumin
5 limes
1 orange, quartered
3 serrano peppers, remove stems
1 tspn chili powder
1 tbspn soy sauce
1 tbspn Tapatio
1 large white onion
two bunches of cilantro
good SMALL corn tortillas
8 oz regular CocaCola
a beer

Preparation:

  1. A few hours before you want to start, cut the pork into large 4"x4" chunks, and put in large bowl. Add the Tapatio, cumin, soy, the juice from 3 limes, and a splash or two of beer. Coat the meat well, and let it sit in the fridge. Drink the remaining beer.
  2. Once the meat is ready, get an enormous pot [right now you’re probably thinking “That four quart pot I use to cook pasta will do fine!” but you are horribly wrong, and you will realize this when you spill boiling hot lard all over your stove. get a really big pot to do do this], add the lard and melt it over medium heat. Add the bay leaves, and then the meat, then the orange, and the serranos, which all should be covered.You don’t want the meat to be frying yet, like you would expect when cooking fries. Turn the heat to extremely low, and cover. Leave alone for an hour.
  3. When the meat is first added, it is full of liquid and is cold. This will make the meat boil/roast rather than fry. As time moves on the liquid will leave the lard and it will begin to fry. This is important for achieving the crispy outside and tender inside.
  4. After the first hour, remove the lid. Turn up heat slightly, and rotate the meat for even cooking. Make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. You can also remove the bay leaves if convenient.
  5. An hour and fifteen minutes after rotating the meat, the lard should be less like the watery mess in the beginning, and a lot more like oil. [FOOD MATH: this means the pork has been cooking for 2.25 hours] At this point you’re going to turn the heat up high and add the Coke. This will help with carmelization. Before doing this, check again that nothing is sticking to the bottom. The Coke will evaporate, adding a sugary layer to the outside of the meat. The lard will be frying the meat vigorously at this point. Be careful if you have a very powerful burner, because too much heat can cause the entire pot to turn black and burn everything on the bottom. If this happens, pull the meat out right away. If this doesn’t happen, just remove the meat ten minutes later, or when the outside gets a nice, crispy texture.
  6. Let it rest for five minutes, then chop it up. If you’ve followed the recipe the meat should be tender enough to tear apart with a fork. Don’t throw away fatty meat, just cut it up and include with the rest.

Serve on corn tortillas with cilantro and minced onions, and, for the Love of Christ, make sure the tortillas are hot so that they don’t crumble. Top with good salsa that didn’t come in a can.

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