Last week I decided to finally give my new tortilla pan (a comal) a crack – I was convinced it was the missing link in being able to finally make a decent tortilla that I was happy with. Corn tortillas are great friends with juicy slow cooked pork so I thought given I was still on leave I’d have plenty of time to slowly cook away a lovely shoulder.
My plan was that I’d give trying to perfect tortillas a crack and then share it with you- which I will but first I just have to share this pork with you, I now have a go to recipe, it’s the best slow cooked pork I’ve ever made that was bound for tacos…
Generally in the past when searching for a recipe I’d just search for pulled pork recipes- and they were generally pretty good but they were cooked with a whole heap of extra ingredients such as rubs, sauces, spices etc and didn’t really seem like an authentic Mexican counterpart to a taco.
So I changed the search criteria and asked Mr Google to look for Carnitas. It basically means ‘little meats’ and is pork cooked very slowly in liquid or lard very slowly and adding some minimal seasoning and cooked down until the liquid evaporates, the pork breaks down and goes nice and golden and crispy and is served with things like coriander, guacamole, tortillas, onion, refried beans etc.
I narrowed it down to a couple of recipes but settled on this one from Epicurious (if you haven’t been to their site you should- lots of great recipes). A couple of things drew me to it- firstly the inclusion of cooking the pork in milk (had never cooked meat in milk) but then also the addition of half an orange and really not much else ingredient wise.
Recipe decided I purchased a pork shoulder roast (I don’t recommend a leg- you need something with a decent amount of fat), unbound it and removed the skin- cut it into about 8 large chunks, seasoned it and seared it on the stove- pop into the heaviest casserole dish you have (if it’s one you can’t use on a stove top), top with milk, half an orange squeezed over and dump the orange rind in there too. I also added in a dash of cumin (quite a few comments with the recipe recommended this) and a liberal dosing of pepper and top with water until almost covered popped on the lid and cooked it for two hours.
Which brings us to this point…
This is where the recipe then advises you to remove the orange and break up the chunks into slightly smaller pieces (which I did) and cook for a further 20 minutes (which I did not). A lot of the feedback said that they had to cook it for much longer than 20 minutes to completely reduce the liquid and crisp up the pork so I kept going past the 20 minute mark… and kept going…. at about the hour mark I flipped over the pork because I was worried that the pork above the liquid line would dry out. About 15 minutes later I considered removing some of the liquid but decided not to and kept going.
Patience pays off…. 20 minutes was actually 2 hours. However it smelt amazing, and took no effort at all to break up the pork- and the top was just beautifully crispy and caramelized.
Yes this takes 4 hours to make but when it’s in the oven you don’t really have to tend to it at all. This was just incredibly simple and it sounds silly but just so… porky. They went so well with the tortillas and had them again for lunch again the next day (love love love Mexican food).
Sunday morning I still had some left over in the fridge and rather than freeze the leftovers I thought I would have it join one of my most favourite breakfasts ever- Migas.
Migas are corn tortillas cut up into 8 wedges, fried until crispy (I didn’t add chopped onions this time) crack a couple of eggs over, wait until cooked for a little bit, season, and start to mix it around the pan with some chopped coriander and some cheese if you like. Then plate it up. I topped mine this time with chipotle salsa, more coriander, cheese, sour cream and a side of caranitas. I loved Migas before I’d tried it with carnitas but this took it to another level… would have been even better if I had remembered the pickled jalapeños!
So- this one is forever filed away as my go to pork recipe for Mexican food… set some time aside and give it a go, let me know if you do- I don’t think you’ll have any regrets!