Thursday, January 15, 2015

Carnitas: Our Official Christmas Dinner

Carnitas are our official Christmas dinner now. Neither Justin nor I are crazy about turkey and we get plenty of that with Thanksgiving. So we decided to devote Christmas dinner to one of our favorites! An added plus of this meal is that it's simple to get a low-protein version for Micah. Turkey...not so much.

Mexican is the way we go. We have refried beans and Mexican rice with these carnitas. I make Pioneer Woman's pico de gallo to go with it because how can you go wrong? And I roast some corn. (Put frozen corn on a pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then roast under the broiler until the corn around the edges gets brown. Most delicious corn in the world!) 

Sometimes this meal seems complicated in my head because you need several hours to cook it. But you need less than ten minutes at the start if you have someone else cut up your meat (20 if you don't) and then 30-40 of supervision at the end. That's not more time than I would usually spend cooking dinner and you get this deliciousness. 

(Why yes, I did turn the camera on two different angles for your viewing pleasure. Or maybe I didn't realize I had done that. Either way.)

Boston butt pork roast- you pick the size: we typically get a 4-5 pounder
1 cup orange juice
juice and zest of 3-4 limes, plus more limes for serving
3-4 tsp. cumin
3-4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt (Or use garlic salt)
2 tsp. pork seasoning, optional
toppings: lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream, onions, etc

Cut your meat into 2 in. cubes. Seriously, this is so much easier if you ask them to do this in the meat department. But if not, you can handle it. Just use a sharp knife.  Cut as much off that bone as possible and toss the bone in too. Do NOT remove the fat. You need it later. (I did not say that you needed to put the meat into a pot. I just assumed you knew. Sorry if that caused you problems.)

Side note: the pot you use is important. I use a nonstick pot and it works beautifully. I used one of my regular aluminum pots with a copper bottom the first time and my meat stuck horribly. Don't waste the deliciousness. 

Add orange juice. Zest and juice your limes. Or have your husband do it because he's stronger and can get more juice out.

Add remaining seasonings. Just sprinkle all over the top. Use more or less for your preference. 

Cover meat with water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for two hours. Do not touch it. Don't stir it. Don't cover it. The water is supposed to cook off. You will soon smell it though. 

After two hours turn up the heat to medium high and let the rest of the water cook off. Pull the meat off that bone and remove the bone. The meat is very tender and will flake right off. The fat will be left in the bottom and your meat will start to brown in it. Turn down to medium and flip the meat occasionally. The meat will start to brown on the bottom and get crispy. Sample it here, of course, and add more garlic salt and cumin if you want.

When you turn the temperature up to let the last of the water cook off, start prepping everything else. Cook your rice. Warm your tortillas. Heat your refried beans. Chop your veggies. 

Continue turning the meat until the rest of the prep work is done and everyone is starving. Place meat on a plate draining off as much grease as you want. Or leave it there and let it drip down your arm while you eat. 

Assemble your tacos in whatever order you prefer. Eat. But please, squeeze some more lime juice over that meat before you eat it. It's the crowning touch. 

Repeat the last two steps until all the meat is gone and there's just some grease stains in the pot and on the plates. Then put carnitas on your menu for next month, even though it's not Christmas. They don't really taste any better at Christmas. They're good anytime. 

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