Believe it or not, I had never made carnitas before this. I have no idea why, given that Mexican food and braised meat are 2 of my favorite things ever. I recently purchased Roberto Santibañez’s Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors from the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico, and was feeling really inspired to make some kind of taco filling last week (before we left for the beach). This wonderful little book is full of tons of idea for taco fillings; my mom was visiting and I thought she would like the carnitas a lot.
Interestingly, in Santibañez’s previous book, Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking, he offers a method for carnitas involving lard and sweetened condensed milk. I would still very much like to make it that way, but I chose to go with the method in Tacos, Tortas and Tamales, which uses Coke. I am not a fan of the stuff in general (or any cola products), but I could see how it would braise down with fatty pork and caramelize into deliciousness. And it did.
I have to apologize for the lag between posts. We will be at the beach for the upcoming 2 (squee!) weeks, soaking in the sun and surf. Or getting buried by uncles. You know, beach stuff.
- 8 garlic cloves peeled
- 1/2 medium-large white onion roughly chopped
- 1 T dried Mexican oregano
- 1/2 t dried thyme
- 5 t kosher salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder cut into 2-inch chunks
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 1 cup Coca-Cola
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Place the first 6 ingredients into a blender. Blitz smooth, and then mix in the Coke.
Place the pork chunks into a large, heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven. Pour the pureed mixture over the pork. Add the bay leaves. Cover with a heavy lid and place in the oven. Let braise until tender for about 2 hours.
Raise the heat to 425 F. Uncover the pot and let the moisture cook out of the pork for 30 minutes. It will eventually be frying in its own fat, at which point start tossing the pork every 10-15 minutes. It should crispy on the outside but meltingly tender in the middle. When it has reached this point, about 30-45 minutes, it is ready to serve.
Serve with corn tortillas, chopped onions and cilantro, and some Taqueria Style Guacamole or some other kind of salsa.