Carnitas

Our parents usually ask us to make a list around Christmas so they have some ideas about what to get us. Mine’s generally pretty easy to put together because at any given time, there are probably 5-10 cookbooks I have been actively trying not to buy with the whole “Christmas is coming soon” mentality. Throw those cookbooks on along with some other miscellaneous kitchen items and I’m all set. Not this year, though. Unless we build an addition on our house specifically dedicated to books, I just can’t continue to add new cookbooks to my collection at the same rate I had been. Even I’m sick of the piles of books sitting around, that’s when you know it’s bad :)

I allowed myself to add only a few books to the list, the ones I was most excited about. Among them was The Homesick Texan Cookbook, which I was thrilled to open on Christmas morning. New England may be known for its seafood (lobster and chowder, mmmm!) but its Tex-Mex? Not so much. Shane and I both love the flavors of Tex-Mex but we’ve never been to Texas, and don’t have plans to go anytime soon, so this book will be the closest we get for now. I couldn’t wait to dig in and get cooking!

Carnitas

I’ve read the book from cover to cover, and there are little flags sticking out everywhere, but at the end of the day, I kept coming back to this carnitas recipe. I’m fairly certain we’ve never even had carnitas (and if we did, they weren’t anything like this!), but I knew we’d love it. It literally means “little meats” and at the end of the day, what you have are little cubes of pork – crisp and caramelized on the outside, tender and juicy inside. And you wouldn’t believe how easy this is to make. The pork cooks in water, orange juice, and lime juice for a few hours, and once the liquid has evaporated, the meat browns in the rendered fat. I know, right? The hardest part of the whole process is having to endure the wait as the pork cooks while the most amazing aromas fill your house. The cubes of pork aren’t the most photogenic subject, but what they lack in visual appeal they more than make up for in taste. Our Tex-Mex adventure is off to a very good start :)

Carnitas

Carnitas
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

3 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup orange juice (from about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt

tortillas, cilantro, salsa, etc (for serving)

Add the pork, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin and salt to a large Dutch oven. Add enough water so the meat is just barely covered. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer (uncovered) for 2 hours. Do not stir or otherwise touch the meat during that time.

Increase the heat to medium-high again, and continue cooking (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until the liquid in the pot has evaporated. It should take about 45 minutes. You’ll be left with the rendered pork fat, which will help to brown the outside of the meat. Flip the meat to brown both sides – once it’s browned, it’s ready to eat. You can season to taste with additional salt at this point.

You can leave the meat as cubes or shred it. Serve with the tortillas, cilantro, salas, or your favorite toppings.

{For the record, not a sponsored post in any way – just loving this cookbook!}