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Monday, October 29, 2012

"Carnitas", cold veggies and Rice

I am back, I got an iPhone, which, I have decided has a camera good enough to use for my blog. I loaned my usual camera out, and it is still working overtime for that purpose. Here, then is my first post with my iPhone. I also have a secondary problem, that I have not been able to use my smoker, a small issue with a neighbor that I will soon resolve. Be that as it may, I made this.

I took some boneless pork country style ribs, which we should all understand are really chunks cut from the pork shoulder butt. These were basically cooked in the manner of 'carnitas'. A little note about the quotes, I have come to find that what I have always called carnitas, pork shoulders, slowly cooked in their own rendered fat, with lots of spices and citrus, is, in fact, not everyone's idea of carnitas. A friend who is from Mexico informed me that his town cooks a whole hog, and I do mean whole, down and they use little in the way of seasoning. Yet another told me that his town always roasts a hog carcass in a large pan, allowing it to roast down and render (but not fry) in it's own juices. The things you learn by talking to people about their home town foods.

As I said, I went with pork shoulder, and chopped up a medium yellow onion, several cloves of garlic and a mix of spices, the usual suspects of kosher salt, medium grind black pepper, cayenne and chile powder (home made, thus no cumin) and some lime powder.

 Onions, garlic and spices

The onions were sauteed, then 1/2 half of the spices to toast. Once I felt the chile sting (yeah, I gauge whether the chile is toasted up by sniffing) I added the pork, a little extra beef/pork lard from an earlier cook, browned it and then added the rest of the spices, a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce and the garlic. The whole thing was sealed up in the cast iron Dutch oven.

Nice pork chunks

Into the oven at 325F for 3 hours or so. I open the oven and listen for sizzling and smell for a little caramelization, if I get it, then it is ready to remove and let sit for 30 minutes. Timing varies. This could totally be done on the smoker, if I had it available to me. Much like my BBQ, I like to let the whole thing rest for at least 30 minutes, I believe this aids in making the meat taste and texture better.

Fresh from the Cooker

Anyway, open it up, take a look and see that there is a lot of great color, the onions have cooked down and all of the liquid, other than fat, has been burned off. We are good to go. Some barely steamed then chilled veggies and a little rice (my preferred rice is Japanese rice) and dinner is served.

Dinner, loved the pork and cold veggies

This is not quite as crunchy as if it was carefully fried in lard in a large copper cauldron, but, it took a lot less attention, during which I was able to get some work done. The flavors are simple and the pork shines through. Very subtle spicing, which is what I am more enamored of these days. The cold vegetables add a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet, earth, salty pork and soft rice, this meal hits a little on every texture and flavor.

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