Season 11 Recipes: Yucatán: A Different Mexico/

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Cena Completa de Carnitas de Puerco
Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 2pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2cups freshly rendered pork lard (you can buy good-quality lard from a local butcher or Mexican market; I don't recommend the hydrogenated lard that's sold in bricks)
  • 3serranos (or 2 jalapeños) stemmed, seeded if you wish
  • 10 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 115-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2cup chopped cilantro (divided use)
  • 3 or 4 limes (divided use)
  • 3ripe avocados, pitted, flesh scooped from the skins
  • 2dozen corn tortillas

Instructions

Cut the pork into 2 ½- to 3-inch pieces and sprinkle generously on all sides with salt. Scoop the lard into a 6-quart slow cooker and turn on high.  When the lard is melted, fit in the pork in a single layer (there should be few gaps between the pieces and they should be barely covered with the fat).  Cover and cook until thoroughly tender, about 3 hours.  Turn off, uncover and let cool while you prepare the accompaniments.

In a very large (12-inch) non-stick or seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and unpeeled garlic, turning regularly until they are softened and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool, then slip the garlic from its skins and put the chiles and garlic into a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it’s finely chopped.

Scrape half of the mixture into a bowl with the avocados, mash with the potato masher or back of a spoon until smooth or chunky—whatever your favorite guacamole texture.  Stir half of the cilantro and squeeze in a little fresh lime juice—1 tablespoon is usually enough to brighten the flavors.  Taste and season with salt, usually about a ½ teaspoon.

Scoop the remaining half of the chile-garlic mixture and cilantro into a bowl with the fire-roasted tomatoes and season with a tablespoon or two of fresh lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about  ½ teaspoon.

Cut the remaining limes into wedges and scoop into a serving bowl.

Remove the pork to a cutting board, leaving behind as much fat as possible.  (You can refrigerate the lard to use for another round of carnitas, to season beans or fry potatoes or the like.) Shred the carnitas into very large, coarse pieces.  When the pan is very hot, spoon in enough carnitas-cooking fat to film the bottom generously.  Scoop in the pork, spreading it out evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes, until it is richly browned and releases itself from the bottom of the pan.  Gently turn the pieces to brown the other side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt (coarse salt is welcome here, if you have it). Serve on a warm platter with the salsa, guacamole, lime wedges and warm tortillas.

Comments

  1. Chef, this looks delicious! I’m all over this. Question: can you recommend the mildest chile possible for my wife? When asked how hot she likes her dishes she answers zero. Also, would it be totally batty to try olive oil or chicken broth in place of the lard? We’re on a cholesterol restricted diet and as the delicious as the lard will be, its really a non-starter for us. Thank you!

    1. Poblano, New Mexico and Anaheim chiles are not hot, but they are large compared to a jalapeno or serrano. But you can make a fine guacamole without any chiles in it.

  2. Hi Rick ,
    Your recipe here is perfect ! I live in California and the way you are making this is the way
    I like it . I will making this for our May 5th Cinco dinner. Thank you for all you do and share. I have learned more from you than any other Chef about Mexican foods & history.
    Keep up the great work you are doing….sincerely, Chileman

  3. I went to a Mexican market and asked for pork fat. The butcher showed me pork feet. I then grabbed my muffin top and said, “No! – FAT”. He then gave me bacon. How do you ask for pork fat in Spanish please?

  4. I’m curious, since I never see any cooking with eggplants which would work great with tacos, or other wise, especially with red sauces.

    1. Does your grocery store carry Hunts brand canned tomatoes? They are called “fire roasted tomatoes”, that just means they were roasted by fire not that they are hot in flavor. If your store doesn’t carry them, you can roast them in your oven under the broiler. Place the tomatoes on a rimmed cookie sheet, put them under the broiler at the highest level for 5 minutes. Flip the tomatoes over and cook for another 5 minutes. They should be beautifully charred with dark black spots. Good Luck!

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