Yesterday was the final day of Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead— so we celebrated last night with a Mexican dinner featuring carnitas and said prayers remembering those family and friends who are no longer with us.
If you follow this blog you will know I am a big fan of David Libovitz his recipes, his books, his blog, his sense of humor etc. I use David's recipe for carnitas and follow the recipe with the exception of a couple of things which I will note at the end of the post.
Adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
- 4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.
Cooks Notes: First I used a different cut - I purchased a half-picnic which has a bone, de-boned and did the rest the same. When I make this though I find that I have to add more water and by the time I have shredded the meat I do not have to leave it long in the oven for the final step. This looks like it is complicated but it is not it is actually very easy and while you are preparing the other items you just have to stop occasionally to tend to the pork.
A word about beans....I love heirloom beans and have used Rancho Gordo beans for years (I was happy to see that David Lebovitz loves them too, just another reason to like him). If they are not available to you they ship and have a flat rate so when I order I order quite a few pounds. I just realized that here in Idaho we have Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans and I will be finding them and trying them soon.
I used my simple baked rice recipe and if you are interested in this recipe just put "rice" in the "search this blog" area and the rice recipe will come up for you.
I know that this meal cries out for a flan but with all the other things that were going on I opted for the dear old (but always good) sherry wine cake. My seven year old grand-daughter was not feeling well but when I asked her if she wanted to make the whipped cream for the cake she came fourth with a resounding "yes." She is a great little helper in the kitchen, always with a good attitude and paying close attention. Sweetened the whipped cream with a little powdered sugar and added some vanilla. We also made a little mixture of graham cracker crumbs, a bit of sugar and some nutmeg, mixed well and dusted the whipped cream with some of the mixture - just a little extra touch.
Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, Link
Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans, Link
Day of the Dead Lantern, Ross
Spanish platter, HomeGoods
Cake Stand, HomeGoods
Yellow Dinner Plates, 222 Fifth
Croched place mats, Steinmart
Tall water glasses, Williams-Sonoma
Roasting Pan, Williams-Sonoma
The Sweet Life in Paris, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - CityHeirloomBeans,Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo
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