“Taco about” a good filling for make-your-own-taco-day. I Googled my Mexican guru – Rick Bayless – for his thoughts on carnitas. Pork confit is what he recommends slow-cooking the pork in, but without access to non- hydrogenated lard (you know, the white stuff), I needed another suggestion to achieve the tender, juicy, Mexican pulled pork. Most of what I’ve read strongly recommends using lard for glistening chunks of pork, rather than on-the-dry-side, finely shredded pork. I will need to find some good lard to try it that way too. I found a lot of recipes that called for braising pork in milk. Why not?
In the traditional Mexican kitchen, carnitas are typically cooked first at a high temperature to promote browning, then simmered low and slow until they are richly tender. In my kitchen, I browned the pork and then slowly braised it in a milk mixture.
I served this with an apple-cabbage slaw in sriracha and a grilled pineapple and tomatillo salsa.
What you need:
- 3 lbs boneless pork butt, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
- 1 c milk
- 1 c orange juice
- 1/4 c lime juice
- 1/4 c pickled jalapeño slices
- 1/4 c jalapeño pickling liquid
- 1 tsp fresh lime zest
- Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- Grilled Pineapple and Tomatillo Salsa
- Corn or flour tortillas, warmed, for serving
- Cilantro, roughly chopped
- Radishes, thinly sliced
- Crumbled queso fresco or cojita cheese
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges (1 per person)
What you do:
- Season pork with salt and pepper.
- Heat EVOO in lg French oven.
- Add to French oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 min.
- Transfer to bowl.
- Add garlic and onions, stirring to scraped up brown bits, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 min.
- Return pork to French oven and add remaining ingredients.
- Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer.
- Cover and continue cooking until pork is tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
- Transfer pork and about 1 c of the liquid to a large bowl.
- Roughly shred the pork into smaller pieces; don’t over shred – you want to retain as much juiciness as you can.
- Add 1 c of the braising liquid to the pork and, using two forks, roughly shred the carnitas into bite-size pieces.
- Season with salt, if desired.
- For build-your-own-taco night, display all ingredients and let everyone build their own.