It’s hard to believe that i haven’t mentioned carnitas yet. My first attempt was from Clifford Wright’s Some Like it Hot: it was very good but the recipe was too complicated and took forever to make. Since then i tried many versions, including pork ribs carnitas and turkey carnitas (btw not as gross as the recipe sounds). But yesterday version, in Food from My Heart, however simple and relatively quick to make, was truly the best.
Here is my version adapted from Zarela Martinez (the main modification is extra added spices – she uses only orange zest and juice).
Around 3lb of boneless country ribs cut into 1"-1.5" cubes, tossed with a tbs of good chipotle powder, a generous pinch of cumin seeds and zest of two oranges and left marinated about an hour at room temperature (i guess it won’t hurt to leave the marinated meat overnight in the fridge – i didn’t have time for this). Brown the meat in two batches on quite high heat (my electric stove top set 6) in a lot of pork fat (if you have it – i didn’t and used olive oil and butter). Deglaze the pan with half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, return the meat to the pan, and stir until pan juices become syrupy, about 5-10mins. At this point i dumped everything into cazuela, brought to the boil on stove top, and put the pan into preheated to 375F oven, immediately lowering the temp to 300F, for 40mins until the meat is tender but still chewy. (in Zarela’s words, and i think this kind of texture made the carnitas perfect).
Served them with two sides (and of course heated corn tortilla chips): sour cream flavored with minced white onion, garlic and cilantro (from the same book), and parsley sauce, from von Bremzen’s New Spanish Table: basically couple of underripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped, whizzed in food processor with a cup of parsley. Olive oil, a bit of white onion, and good red wine vinegar mixed in. Both sauces were excellent, although the former is not too social (considering the amount of raw onion if you know what i mean).