This dish highly inspired by the neighborhood Mexican market that runs a small Taqueria like stall at the back of the market. I remember the first time we went there to get some food, the food operators that day spoke only Spanish, and English was little to none. The husband and I ended up ordering tacos with a bit of sign language/pointing and the little Spanish we know. And we watched other customers order other delicious items to go.
The language barrier did not stop us from going back, and back, and back for yummy carnitas (braised pork) and chicarron (pork rind) tacos and/or combination plates. The husband and I are usually the odd ones out in line, but we don't care coz we love the food! However, during my last visit to the taquiera, I found that our regular food was not as good. For some reason, even though the pork was just swimming in lucious gravy a few minutes ago, it felt dry. Honestly, I was disappointed!
Since then, I was determined to replicate this dish. I gathered all the ingredients I think I needed and decided to make it for dinner tonight. Since I've planned ahead, I marinated the meat overnight before cooking it the next day. In this recipe, I added a packet of Sazon Goya to enhance the flavors. This seasoning is something like those chicken bouillon used in cooking. I happened to have a box of the seasoning from cooking a Guatemalan dish my friend taught it and decided to use it in today's pork carnitas.
I love the end product of the dish. The husband and I thought it was flavor of the pork carnitas was pretty close to the ones we get from the taquiera. Ok, if there were some chicarron in there, it would have been perfect! I served the carnitas as a taco (corn tortillas - my favorite!) and topped it off with some homemade Apple & Peach Salsa
(I will share the salsa recipe tomorrow!). The husband and I enjoyed the different taste and texture from the savory pork carnitas filling and the fresh salsa topping.
Till then, here's the recipe for the Pork Carnitas. Please excuse my pictures, I had some trouble with the tortilla and plating the dish!
PORK CARNITAS RECIPE
- 1-1/2 lb Boneless Ribs (Pork Shoulders), Cut into large strips
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 1/2 Medium Onion, Chopped
- 1 Green Pepper, Chopped
- 2 Clove Garlic, Minced
- 1 Canned (14.05 Oz) Tomatoes (Wedges or Diced)
- 2 Cups (Reduced Sodium) Chicken Broth
- 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Pkt Sazon Goya (Coriander & Annato)
Mix salt, smoked paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixed seasoning over the pork and let it marinate over night.
In a heavy pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, sear the pork for about 4 minutes on each side. Once the pork is golden brown on both sides, remove from the pot. Stir in onion, green pepper, and garlic and cook until the onions are slightly soft. Then, add canned tomatoes, chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, the sazon goya
seasoning and the seared pork. Ensure that the pork is submerged as much as possible in the broth mixture (add slightly more chicken broth if required to achieve this). Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let the pork cook for about 1 hour. Check on the pork, turning it every 20 minutes or so.
Once the 1hour is up, using a thong, gently twist the pork to check the tenderness. If chunks of pork can be shredded with the thong, then turn off the heat. If not, add a little more broth (about 1/4 cup, if the broth has become too thick) cover and continue cooking about another 15 minutes or so or until the desired tenderness is reached.
Let the pork rolled a little before serving. Shred the pork in the pot using a fork. Alternately, chop the pork on a chopping board together with some of the gravy mixture. Serve this as a taco or over some warm rice.
Serve it as a Taco: You can make about 10-12 pieces of tacos with the shredded/chopped carnitas. Serve the carnitas with some warm (dry toast on a pan) tortilla of your choice. Line the tortilla with a bit of shredded lettuce, then the shredded pork carnitas, cilantro and top if off with your favorite salsa.
Serve it over Rice: Serve some of the carnitas with some Spanish rice or your favorite rice dish. Add some refried beans and salsa (or a simple slaw) to complete the meal. This should be enough to feed 3-4 people.
June's Comments: I do not need to cut the pork; they came pre-cut from the store and was perfect size for braising. Cutting the meat into smaller pieces will just shorten the cooking time.
Even though I marinated the pork overnight (since I had time), I think you can just season the pork just before cooking. Since it's braising in liquid, the flavors will still be yummy. I braised my pork in a dutch oven (Le Creuset). Any large pot should work well to braise the pork.
Depending on how much gravy you want at the end, feel free to add as much or as little more broth at the very end of the cooking time. If you're eating this over rice, more gravy would be yummy. If you're eating this over tacos, you don't need as much gravy.
I found the level of saltiness perfect; if you prefer more salt in the pork carnitas, sprinkle as much or as little about 10-15 minutes before the end of cooking time.