Carnitas for Days!

I’ve only encountered a small group of people that claim to dislike Mexican food. I have heard all sorts of reasons for their disdain; they don’t like beans, tortillas are too crunchy and hurt their teeth, it’s too spicy; even though they LOVE Indian and Thai food. In any case, a lot of Sundays ago, I know I am WAY behind on posts; I made carnitas. This particular recipe is special to me for several reasons. First, it comes from Pati Jinich, who I think is just absolutely adorable. The second, my Uncle Willie, one of the supervisory chefs here at My Foodie Duty, won a contest and appeared in a Facebook Live event with Pati Jinich. Pati said hello to my Abuela and told her to try the recipe with sweetened condensed milk. Seems cute, there’s more; my Uncle, who probably doesn’t know his level of involvement in my endeavors, told me this story. 

He and my grandma (Abuela) were watching Pati’s show, Pati’s Mexican Table, and while she was cooking, my Abuela starts yelling at the television, “What a disgrace, you don’t put condensed milk. Silly girl!” 

That’s the best translation I can give with what I understood and how fast my Uncle speaks Spanish. I couldn’t remember the dish, and Pati uses sweetened condensed milk in A LOT of recipes. I found this out once I started watching her show on Amazon Prime. About a week before I was going to make this recipe, I went to my Uncle’s Facebook wall because he had recently shared the link (via Memories) to the video from when he won the contest with Pati. When the video first aired, I was at work, so watching live wasn’t possible. When I finally saw it, I was very excited when I heard Pati say hello to my grandma, Paulina, and ask her to try the recipe. It warmed my heart because my Abuela passed away last year, and she taught me how to cook a lot of our family recipes. Two days before I found out it was the same recipe, my cat Logan brought me my grandmother’s flowers. I keep them in a vase in my bathroom (dried baby’s breath).

I enjoy cooking Pati’s recipes because it reminds me of cooking with my Abuela. Pati cooks with her kids and sometimes her siblings and parents. She cooks a lot of the same recipes that my Abuela taught me how to make. It gives me so much comfort, thank you, Pati! I added a link to the Facebook video in case anyone wants to watch it. My Abuela’s shout out is at 23 min 30 sec

Thanks for listening to how special this recipe is, now let’s talk about how delicious it is! I’ll admit when I saw sweetened condensed milk as an ingredient in carnitas, I was shocked. I always try to stay true to the recipes as much as possible unless I have to substitute a spice or two. There are times when I can hear my Abuela yelling at me for not adding enough salt or onion, I have to simply look up and say, “Abuela, you know that my husband does not like onions but see I am still putting some in.”

You’ll need about seven different spices for this recipe including salt and pepper dried thyme, marjoram, whole cloves, cumin, and bay leaves. I put all the spices I needed for step one in a ramekin. (shown in photos) Plan on having a head of garlic handy, a few oranges, a white onion, a can of sweetened condensed milk, a small tub of lard, and of course the pork. 

This carnitas recipe is delicious and depending on how you use it, can feed a lot of people. I made tacos, nachos, tortas (on french baguettes, I had no bolillos!), more tacos, even more nachos, and still had enough to take some leftovers to my mom. This recipe calls for 4 to 5 lbs of boneless pork butt or shoulder roast and the most important part is to leave the fatty pieces on the meat. If you cannot stand eating the juicy pieces of fat you can still enjoy carnitas just save those pieces for people like me! 

You’ll need a blender for this recipe, I used my Magic Bullet™ with the blender attachment and it worked fine. Pati recommends cooking with a Dutch Oven or large Casserole, I’d love to, but I have a glass top stove, so I used a skillet. It worked perfectly! One thing to note is that this recipe takes time and attention, the total time with prep, cooking, and plating was about 2.5 hours. It might have been a bit longer because I warmed tortillas too. Full disclosure, I am very slow in the kitchen. I listen to music and take dance breaks. If you have ever seen the movie The Terminator, the scene where Ginger is making a sandwich and rocking out, yeah that’s pretty much what I do. 

I know that this post has been really personal and I appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. It goes a little beyond our normal format choice so either I apologize or you’re welcome. Thanks for sticking with me! 

Until next time, happy eating! 

Pati Jinich’s Carnitas

INGREDIENTS

Carnitas Step 1

  • 1 TBS lard, vegetable shortening or oil (for the LOVE of taste USE LARD)
  • 4 to 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder or butt (cut into 4-inch chunks w/fat on)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt

Puree for Step 2

  • 1/2 a white onion (peeled & coarsely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp (says pinch) cumin
  • 4 whole cloves (stems removed)
  • 1 TBS kosher or coarse sea salt (or to taste)

Ingredients for Step 3

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 2 oranges)
  • 2 TBS sweetened condensed milk

COOKING

  • In a blender, place the water, onion, garlic cloves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, cumin, stemmed whole cloves and 1 TBS salt.
  • Puree until smooth. (set aside for the moment)
  • Set a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat.
  • Add the lard (or vegetable shortening or oil), and once it has heated up, add the pork chunks and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Brown the meat on all sides, stirring and flipping as each side browns, about 10 minutes.
  • Pour the onion mixture over the meat, let it come to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Pour in the orange juice and sweetened condensed milk, add the 2 bay leaves, and give it a good stir.
  • Let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover.
  • Cook covered, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the casserole 2 to 3 times along the way, until the meat is completely cooked and coming easily apart if you pull one piece, about one hour and a half. (mine took 2 hours)
  • Remove the lid, cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Scoop out the carnitas with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat (she means the juice) behind, and serve in a bowl or platter.
  • Shred with a fork to get smaller shredded pieces.
  • Serve with warm tortillas for a yummy taco night!

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