When I moved to San Diego about five years ago, I took with me a love of carnitas burritos from Anna’s Tacqueria. Anna’s?!, you’re probably thinking. Little did I know that Anna’s is far from the gold standard I thought it was. When I tasted real carnitas on that little Mexican border city, my understanding of carnitas leveled up, and my craving for carnitas increased. Since then I’ve evaluated the quality of mexican restaurants everywhere based on their carnitas burritos.
Yet one thing eluded me – the ability to eat homemade pork as tender and flavorful as the carnitas from San Diego. At the local Costco they actually sold a large packet of ready-to-eat carnitas, which was simply an indulgence. Bulk, inexpensive carnitas, local avocados, and beer was the best thing I could ask for on any Sunday afternoon. So now, back in Boston, I’ve occasionally satisfied that need with a lowly Ana’s burrito, but I yearned for large quantities of overindulgence.
So thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I finally found a way to carnitas heaven. I basically used their recipe, just adding a bit more seasoning I had sitting around, and a can of beer. And having learned to cook it for myself, I learned to understand pork even better. I used to only buy the flat porkchops or pork ribs. Now, give me a huge hunk of fatty pork butt or pork shoulder and I will turn it into the juiciest east coast carnitas burrito. Would you like a horchata with that?
Homemade Carnitas with chili peppers basted in beer
3 lbs of pork shoulder or butt, fat on
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon/lime juice
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 small chili peppers
Cut the pork into 2 inch chunks. In a large steel pot, marinade the pork in orange juice, jemon juice, and beer. Add the dry seasoning and mix. Add water until the meat is just covered. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Cut onions into 2 inch chunks, and peel and crush the garlic. Add the garlic, onions, and chili peppers. Let simmer uncovered for two hours.
After two hours, turn the heat up to medium high and continue to cook, now turning and stirring the meat occasionally.
Keep this up for about 45 minutes, until all the liquid is gone and meat is starting to brown on the edges. When the chunks of pork are slightly browned and will fall apart easily with any poke of a spoon, the carnitas is ready.
Total time of procrastination: 3 hours
Ways to prolong procrastination: Make homemade guac and salsa.