Recipe of the Week
Mexican Carnitas
September 23, 2010

Authentic carnita recipes use pure lard as the only liquid that the pork is cooked in. This recipe lightens it up a bit by substituting your favorite beer for most of the moisture. The taste is fantastic and has not been compromised in anyway with the use of this cooking technique. It takes 4-5 hours to prepare this delicacy, so make sure to plan your day accordingly.

*4 to 5 lb Boston butt or pork shoulder tied if necessary
*2 onions peeled and quartered
*1/3 bunch fresh cilantro (leave whole)
*4 stalks celery cut in large pieces
*1 Anaheim pepper cut in large pieces
*2 jalapenos cut in half one with seeds and membrane removed
*4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
*2 bay leaves
*2 teaspoons dried thyme
*1 teaspoon oregano
*1 teaspoon cumin
*1 teaspoon kosher salt
* teaspoon cracked black pepper
*1 lime
*2 of your favorite beers
* cup milk

Rinse the pork and place it in a 6 - 8 quart pan. Add the onions, cilantro, celery, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cumin, salt and cracked black pepper. Squeeze the fresh lime over the top. Pour both beers into the pan over the mixture. Add enough water so that the pork is totally covered in liquid. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced. This will take 2 - 3 hours. When finished, use slotted spoons to transfer the pork to a 9- by 13-inch pan or baking sheet. Reserve all of the cooking juices. Remove the string from the pork and use 2 forks to pull the meat into large chunks. Pour milk over the meat.

Bake the pork in a 325 oven until the meat is browned. This will take about 1 hour. To prevent sticking, make sure to stir and scrape the pan occasionally during the cooking process.

Meanwhile, pour the reserved juices through a strainer into a bowl and discard the residue. Skim and discard any fat. Place the juices into a large open frying pan and boil over high heat until it is reduced to 2 cups. It will take about an hour to make the reduction. When the pork has browned, pour 1 cup of the reduced juices over the meat. Scrape the pork from the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Stir the pork so that it breaks into smaller pieces. Continue baking for 15-30 minutes until the juices have evaporated and pork is beginning to brown again. Stir the pork to prevent sticking and to break it into smaller pieces. Repeat this step using the remaining juices and continue baking until the edges of the pork are crisp and browned. This will take 15 to 30 minutes longer.

Remove the pan from the oven and taste adding more salt if necessary.

This mixture freezes very well and can be used in tacos, burritos, quesadillas or any of your Mexican favorites. Since this recipe makes a large quantity, we like to freeze it in individual size portions for future use.