Thursday, May 10, 2012

Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Carnitas






Carnitas, which means 'little meats', is a type of braised or roasted pork in Mexican cuisine. The traditional way to cook Carnitas is simmering pork in a copper pot with equal amounts of melted lard, to which assorted flavourings are added such as salt, oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf and crushed garlic. Given today's climate for more low-fat foods, alternative methods of cooking Carnitas, without the extra fat have become popular, thank goodness.

The most famous version of the dish comes from Michoacán, in central Mexico. Delicately flavoured with a hint of orange, onion, and occasionally some warm herbs or spices like cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, or oregano. All it needs is a squeeze of lime, some chopped onion, cilantro and simple hot salsa to form a meal of unrivaled deliciousness. This heart-frendly recipe for Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Carnitas is cooked in a flavoured liquid of chicken broth, smokey chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, bay leaves, paprika and lots of cumin, which is then braised over a low heat for 6-8 hours, until it becomes exquisitely succulent and unbelievably tender. Serve with corn tortillas, topped with guacamole, Jalapeno, Cilantro & Lime Sour Cream or Chipotle Mayonnaise Dressing, fresh cilantro and chunks of ripe mango. On a hot summer day, the crowning glory would be a cold beer or fresh Lime Margaritas — divine!



Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Carnitas
serves 4-6

3-4 lb pork shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp canola oil
8 oz chicken broth

Seasonings:
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic cloves, cut into slivers
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3 bay leaves

For serving:
Flour or corn tortilla wraps

Guacamole or sliced avocado
Fresh cilantro
Chopped mango

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the cubes of pork and sear them on all sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Then season the pork all over with the smoked paprika and cumin.

Place the seasoned pork in a large pot or brazier. Pour the chicken broth over top, then add the bay leaves, garlic and chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, coating the pork thoroughly. Braise in the oven covered for 4 hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking. Then remove the cover and continue to cook in the oven for another 2 to 3 hours, until much of the liquid has evaporated and the pork has become crispy and caramelized.

Remove the pan from the oven. Lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter. Discard the bay leaves. Using two forks, shred the pork and combine well with the juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the pot. Let sit on low or warm for another 15-30 minutes before serving with warm tortilla wraps topped with fresh guacamole, chopped cilantro and mango. Serve with a small bowl of Jalapeno, Cilantro & Lime Sour Cream on the side.









Jalapeno, Cilantro & Lime Sour Cream
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup sour cream
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 

1 tsp finely minced jalapeno
a pinch of salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together then serve. It can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. This is a delicious sauce and could be used on its own with grilled chicken or fish also.






Fresh Lime Margaritas
Makes 4 servings


8 oz Grand Marnier
6 oz Tequila
8 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
6 oz simple syrup
1 orange, 1 lemon and 1 lime, sliced for garnish
salt for the rim



Rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lemon, lime and orange slices.

For simple syrup:
Combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely.







Fresh Strawberry Margaritas
Makes 4 servings

8 oz Grand Marnier
6 oz Tequila
6 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
6 oz strawberry simple syrup
limes and fresh strawberries for garnish
salt and sugar for the rim

Rim the ridge of a glass or mason jar with a lime wedge and dip in a mix of margarita salt and sugar — about 3 tablespoons salt to 2 teaspoons sugar. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lime slices and add a few strawberries.

For strawberry simple syrup: 
Combine equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely. Combine 1 cup simply syrup and 1 1/2 cups slices strawberries in a blender and blend until combined. If you don't like strawberry seeds, strain the mixture to remove the seeds.