Recipe: "Carnitas" from "The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution" by Alice Waters
Status: Made once.
We decided to make carnitas since we still had some leftover corn tortillas, some Mexican sauces, and because we were looking for something simple and not time consuming to make. I remembered reading the carnitas recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and how she emphasized how easy it was to make.
William made carnitas using the recipe for "Carnitas" from Alice Waters' "The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution". Her recipe boils the pork shoulder for only 45 minutes and then fry the pork in its own fat until the outside gets crispy and browned. We found that the pork hadn't softened yet after the boiling, but the frying step really softened the pork up. The pork was shred-able but not falling apart; boiling for a little longer would probably help to make it falling apart, but even with only 45 minutes of boiling the carnitas were very tasty.
Smitten Kitchen also mentioned that there is a famous carnitas recipe on the web which simply uses just three ingredients: pork shoulder, salt, and water. Alice Waters' recipe does have one more ingredient, lime juice, but we concluded when we ate this that we weren't sure that the lime juice really makes a difference in the taste, and could possibly be left out if you felt like it.
Optionally you can shred the meat. We found that we tended to put less meat in our tacos when it was shredded since the shredded meat has more volume. (I prefer it shredded.)
We served these tacos with "Coleslaw" from Alice Waters' "The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution", since Smitten Kitchen served her carnitas tacos with coleslaw and it looked really tasty to me, and I wanted some vegetables because I prefer eating a mix of vegetables and meat rather then just meat. Our coleslaw was made from a small (about the size of a extra large orange) green cabbage and white wine vinegar. Our coleslaw also had 1 small apple in it, as suggested by one of the recipe variations; this added just the right amount of sweetness to this vinegar dressed coleslaw. I liked this coleslaw lightly dressed, i.e. with just enough dressing to cover the cabbage but only to just barely taste it, and I liked it best after the mixed salad had sat for a while to let the flavors meld with the dressing and the red onion flavor to become milder.
Next time I would also consider soaking the red onion in water or in vinegar for a while to make them milder before mixing them into the coleslaw. However, even though the raw red onion had a bite, I did enjoy this salad just the way we made it (mixing the raw untreated onion directly with the salad dressing and letting it sit awhile), so I would also consider not soaking the onion again too. One tip, is that you shouldn't make the cabbage strands very long; they should be bite sized length (1 1/2 inches long), so that it is easy and not too messy to east.
I put out several types of sauces: some bottled Mexican hot sauces, and the guacamole and tomatillos sauce that I made earlier this week. I also deseeded and took out the pith of half a Serrano and finely chopped it and set it out as a garnish.
We used taco sized corn tortillas, which I warmed up in a hot saute pan for a minute or two before we ate.
We found that we liked the tacos best with a spoonful of the tomatillos sauce (use the spoon to drain off most of the liquid back into the sauce before you garnish your taco with it) and two spoonfuls of coleslaw. The tomatillos sauce added a touch of acidity. The slaw functioned as crunchy vegetables in the tacos. I liked to shred the meat in my taco, and I also liked mine with a sprinkle of Serrano peppers.
Alteratively, for breakfast / brunch, you can make scrambled eggs and top the eggs with cheese (I used Oaxacan cheese) when they are still hot, and serve the tacos with tomatillo sauce, scrambled eggs, minced Serrano pepper, and the pork and eat the coleslaw on the side.