Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-American celebration commemorating the first Mexican army's victory over the French... back in the olden days.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I'm making carnitas. Based upon my dining experiences with carnitas, carnitas is a pork dish that is either 1) braised and served in the cooking liquid, 2) twice cooked where the carnitas is first braised and finally cooked in a little oil to crisp up the meat, 3) the carnitas is simply grilled pork and 4) pork that is deep fried. Carnitas is not a spicy dish nor a tomato based dish.
My version is the twice-cooked carnitas.
The night before the pork is seasoned:
4 lb pork should roast bone-in
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 to 2 T Susie-Q seasoning
1/2 t Garlic Powder
1/2 t Onion Powder
1/2 t Dried Basil, crumbled
1/2 t Dried Oregano, crumbled
2T Vermouth - the pork was looking a little dry so I added the vermouth to help marinade the pork.
Black Pepper - a few grinds
Dumped everything into a zip-loc to marinade overnight.
The next morning - dumped everything into a Dutch oven.
Added 2 C broth
Brought to a boil and simmered 5 minutes.
The rest of the cooking was in a pre-heated oven about 175F for about 10 hours, while I was a work.
The results after the long, slow cooking. The house wafted with the pleasant aroma of garlic and onions.
I couldn't resist taking a small bite. The meat is flavorful with onion and garlic, juicy and melted in my mouth. :)
While the meat was cooling, I made guacamole.
2 T minced fresh onions
1 big clove of garlic, mashed through a garlic press
1 T Cilantro, hand shredded
2 T Salsa
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash onion powder
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 lime juice
Mash and blend
Cover and refrigerate so the flavors can meld.
The carnitas was shredded and defatted. The long slow braising made for easy shredding. The fat and mystery bits separates easily from the meat.
Shredded Carnitas... What to do next?
Traditionally, the carnitas is crisped in a skillet with lard. I didn't have any lard, but I did have the drippings skimmed from the cooking broth. Some people may see this as a bowl of fat to be discarded. I see this a bowl of golden, elixir of flavor.
With drippings, I added a tablespoon to a can of refried beans and another tablespoon was used to fry the pork.
With the braising liquid, I made my version of Mexican rice.
Mexican Rice (pictures were blurry, from hunger?)
2 C Long Grain Rice, uncooked
2.5 C braising liquid (didn't need any broth or other seasoning since there was a lot of flavor)
1/4 C Salsa
Cooked the rice in oil to a light brown.
Added the liquid and the salsa and cooked for 25 minutes. (Bring to a boil and lower to medium-low heat.)
The Final Dish
Carnitas served with guacamole, rice, tortillas, beans and a twist of lime.
The meal had a lot of flavor from the pork and the braising liquid used in the rice. I actually surprised myself at how well the dish turned out. lol... Main flavors were garlic, onions and a light hint of the herbs.
PS... Shawn, You need to get here soon. My freezer is almost full with the blog food I'm saving for you. :-D