Tag Archives: Technique

Ridiculously Easy Braised Pork for Carnitas

 

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First of all, let’s talk about the 500-pound gorilla in the room:  what the hell is braising and why don’t we just know what it means?  Cooking terms are weird because, if you aren’t a trained chef, you probably don’t know a bain-marie from a china cap and you shouldn’t have to know all of these terms.  Not all of them.

 

Some you should know because casual cooks like ourselves need to be able to cook for ourselves and our families.  Braising is one of the words you need to know.  Thing is, you’ve probably done it or seen it done and didn’t realize that’s what it was. 

 

Braising is simply slow-cooking meat in a little bit of water and covered to retain the moisture.  Most of us know of this method if we own a slow-cooker.  That’s all it is.  Easy.  For braising, you can sear the meat first or not then put it in a dutch oven which then goes in the regular oven.

 

Most Dutch Ovens look like this:

 

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But mine is cast iron so it looks like this: 

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Either way, you’ve seen them before and have possibly used one as well.  So you put the meat in the dutch oven with about a cup or so of liquid.  You can add vegetables here as well.  You put the oven on 200° and cook for 8 to 10 hours or raise the temperature  a bit and cook for shorter amounts of time.  I put mine on 350° and cooked it for 3 hours and it was great.  Here’s a list of times and temps:

 

180 – 200°

8 – 10 hours

225 – 250°

6-8 hours

275 – 300°

4 – 6 hours

325 – 350°

2 – 4 hours

 

Two hours isn’t really slow cooking but it is braising and that’s what we’re doing here.

 

Here’s the recipe for the carnitas:

 

What you’ll need:

1 Pork Picnic Shoulder – mine was 9 lbs. (more about that at the bottom)

¼ c. adobo seasoning (hmm.., recipe at bottom also)

 

What you do:

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Rub seasoning all over the shoulder.  I separate the skin from the

        and get some under there as well. meat      

3. Put a cup of water or broth in dutch oven, put shoulder in there and cook.

4. Pounce on it immediately when it is done and eat it up. 

 

 

Some extras:

1. What is a Picnic Shoulder and what is a Boston Butt.  The ‘whole’ pork shoulder (15-20 lbs) consists of the upper part (Boston Butt) and the lower part of the shoulder (the Picnic). You can purchase it whole, however most times it is found in the store separated into the two pieces mentioned above. The difference between Picnics and Boston Butts are the bone structure……the butt has a small shoulder blade bone and the picnic has the front leg bone and joint.

 

2. Adobo Seasoning

1 TB salt Seasoning - Mexican Spice Mix (2)

1 TB paprika

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

 

These don’t have to be exact measurements as long as it tastes good to you.  You can add a chipotle chile or two if you want to zing it up.

 

 

 

Here is the finished product and how we had it tonight too.

    

 

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How it looked out of the oven
Pork - Carnitas Meal (2)
The next day out of the pan with celery and onions and some leftover 5-Guys fries
Pork - Carnitas (5)
Garnished!
Pork - Carnitas Meal (1)
Delicious and really ridiculously easy.