For the 4th of July, I made some Carnitas sliders with guacamole, and am posting the carnitas recipe by request. This is adapted from David Lebovitz with a few changes:
- 4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks, extra fat removed (the original recipe calls for larger chunks, but smaller chunks lead to better seasoned carnitas in my experience
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 4 tablespoons of saindoux (lard)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt.
2. Heat the lard in a dutch oven 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, pour in about a cup of water and a bottle of a strong brown ale (I used Chimay bleu), scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits. Add more water if necessary to almost cover the meat
4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
5. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 1 1/2-2 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. Before serving, heat the pork in a bit of lard and shred the pieces with a spatula.
For the sliders, I made a batch of guacamole and grilled the buns with a bit of butter. If there is leftover carnitas an original spin is to cook it with homemade spaetzle, delicious!