Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Carnitas Demystified - a recipe for carnitas made with beer!

The days are getting longer and the nights are starting to heat up. It's time for short dresses, Taco Tuesdays, Wino Wednesdays and espadrilles! If you're entertaining a large group of people the last thing you want to be doing is finding yourself stuck in the kitchen filling beef wellingtons or mini quiches. Carnitas have been a favorite party food for ages because they feed a good sized group of people for a moderately low price and they're not as challenging as one may think. Below I have my recipe for Cerveza Carnitas, a quick roasted salsa and a crisp salad sure to be a winner at your next soiree!

Cerveza Carnitas

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp cumin

Kosher salt

1 tsp red pepper

1 Whole onion

2 crushed cloves of garlic

Mexican chocolate (2 pieces)

Lard (optional based upon the leanness of the pork...)

Boston butt/pork shoulder

2 Oranges

1 Ancho pepper (or one Jalapeño)

Half a Habanero (personal preference based on heat)

Growler of beer (For this one I used Anderson Valley's Crema Cerveza however I have also used Organic Bison Chocolate Stout and Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale and had fantastic flavor harmonies)
You can add oranges for extra sweetness!

Night before: Cover your Boston butt in kosher salt and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate till you're ready to cook.

Slice Boston butt (1" slices for crispy, 3" for crispy with a tender center)

In a deep pot (cast iron is preferable since it retains flavors and distributes heat well) place meat slices along bottom then add bay leaves, peppers, oranges, cumin, garlic, and onions-adding enough beer to barely submerge the meat (remember that all the liquid needs to be boiled off to have the rendered fat for frying) turn on medium high heat, cover and cook for about an hour and a half to two hours.Be sure to turn meat over every 20 minutes or so, keeping an eye on liquid levels but be careful not to leave the cover off too long (evaporation happens faster than you think!).
I used AVBC Crema Cerveza for this batch but others work too!

Once juices have been evaporated you will see a clear liquid at the bottom producing large lazy bubbles (this is the rendered lard from the pork) turn down heat. I like to take out the onion and orange at this part so it doesn't fry and char during the next part. Cover and let cook for 30 minutes.

If there is less than an inch of the rendered pork fat on the bottom of the pan add a couple tbsps of lard and let melt. (I never said this was a diet food!!!)

Increase heat and let it boil furiously uncovered until meat starts to darken.

Add two segments of chocolate and mix it in briskly until dissolved and the meat is crispy and falling apart.

Turn off heat and remove meat from pan and there you have your beautiful carnitas!
If only we had smell-o-vision!

I like it best served with my roasted green salsa and a bright jicama salad!

2-lb of tomatillos
1 jalapeño
1 large avocado

During the last 30 min of cooking start roasting fresh ingredients for the sauce until blistered and place in food processor with an avocado, add salt to taste.

1 jicama root
a couple of oranges
red onion
chili powder
a couple key limes

For the salad just chop up ingredients and add salt chili powder and lime juice for flavor.

Serve with tortillas and your favorite cerveza! Salud!


I Know Goats Udder and she's taught me how to make the best carnitas I've had in my life and I love carnitas. She also has excellent taste in beer. I'm kind of sad that I'm no longer one of a chosen few who have this knowledge.

I'm just finishing up your Carnitas for lunch today and it is probably the best way to have pork bar none! Muy sabroso! I had it for breakfast this morning with my eggs too :)

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