We had a little dinner party last week, and for the main course I made a favorite of mine, Carnitas, a cheap and easy dish that is always a huge hit with our guests, and I was able to prepare it in advance. It is usually served with tacos or tortillas for rolling, but I prefer to serve it on a plate with rice and a vegetable.
It’s important to use the right cut of pork shoulder, and happily, the cheapest cut, known as a “picnic” is also the most tender and flavorful when cooked a long time. In a supermarket, it will usually be about 10 pounds, and in a cryovac wrapper. You can have the butcher cut it in half for this recipe. Be sure they cut across the bone.
4.5 to 5 lb. bone-in pork shoulder picnic, cut into 3 to 4 inch chunks (leave some meat on the bone and include the bone when cooking)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, cored and chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 quarts chicken broth
Preheat oven to 400. Heat the oil in a skillet, preferably cast iron. Pat the pork pieces dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the pieces on all sides and transfer to a Dutch oven.
Add all the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high until boiling.
Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven, and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is falling apart. Remove from oven. At this point, you can continue or let the meat cool and refrigerate until a couple of hours before serving, then reheat until meat is tender again.
Remove the meat chunks and place them on a baking sheet. Pull the meat apart with forks and discard the bone. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the solids from the strainer over the meat. Bake the meat for 40 minutes, spooning some of the reserved liquid over it every 10 minutes. When done, serve immediately or transfer back to the Dutch oven and keep warm. Add a bit more liquid if it appears dry. Serve with lime wedges.
8 to 10 servings