Sunday, August 10, 2008

My version of Carnitas

Carnitas are probably my favorite Mexican dish. I'm a little hesitant to order it at restaurants though, as it seems to be difficult to find a Mexican restaurant that makes them fresh. Half the time I end up with over cooked, charred bits of pork that would break teeth and other times the pork tastes as if it's been cooked the day before in old grease and then reheated. So, awhile back I set out to find a recipe I could make at home that I actually liked, after a few combinations and tweaks, this is what I came up with.

2 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
4-5 lbs boneless country style pork ribs
1 jar Goya sofrito
4 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs dried cilantro
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbs hot sauce

Heat olive oil in a large, high sided, heavy skillet, or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add quartered onions and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add boneless ribs, sofrito, chicken stock, spice and hot sauce. Stir all together, cover and simmer for 3 hours or until meat pulls apart easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF. Cut the following into large chunks (seeds removed), place in a large roasting pan and coat ligtly with olive oil:

2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
4 poblano peppers
2 medium onions

Roast vegetables until they start to brown slightly, about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Remove from oven and empty vegetables into a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly. With a knife and fork, cut vegetables into smaller chunks; set aside.

In the same roasting pan, add 1/4 cup of lard or shortening and place the pan back in the 450º oven until fat melts and is hot. Add pork to the hot fat and cook 5 minutes, stir and cook 5 minutes more, until edges of pork and slightly browned and crisp.

Serve with refried beans, roasted onions and peppers, and pico de gallo (my favorite is from The Pioneer Woman). Sometimes I serve this on warm flour tortillas like you would find in the restaurants, sometimes I like it by itself. Feel free to top it with guacamole, sour cream, cheese... whatever you like.

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