Carnitas

I was not in San Francisco in the past week. I could have been, but I decided against it. There’s this annual conference of the American Psychosomatic Society, and this years event was there. I’ve been there five years in a row, each year at another beautiful location, and its been fantastic every year. Good for science and morale of the scientists. However, the type of research doesn’t change all that fast, and passing a year would be financially sound and, well, it saves the fuss of travelling, jet lag, and, not unimportant, not being away from my family.

Instead I focused on the good things of being at home, celebrating my birthday and cooking for friends and family. While not being in SF.

The project was carnitas, a pork dish which transforms a 1.5 kg porkshoulder into the most succulent grilled porkbits *ever*.

Theres not much to adapt to the recipe made by the foodlab, and they spend time making several versions of the dish, to make sure which method gave the most succulent porkbits. Easy peasy, and many thanks to seriouseats!

Ingedients: (for fahrenheit; see the foodlab version)

1.5 kg porkshoulder, I hade two large chunks, including bone and skin.

3 Bay leaves

1 orange

6 cloves of garlic

1 large onion

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 large stick of cinnamon

Szechuan pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

150 ml oil

The deal for making extra succulent porkbits is to slowroast them covered in fat/oil, which prevents loss of juices, and acts as a buffer for temperature changes. The original recipe says 275 degrees fahrenheit, it worked fine on 125 degrees celcius, and in total it took about four hours before the meat could be pulled apart (I tested it at 2,5 and 3 hours).

First, I trimmed of the fat, and rind of the pork, and chopped up the pieces into chunks. The bit with the bone could not be chopped, so I kept it in one piece, and sliced the meat to the bone. Ground cumin, Szechuan peppers, black pepper and some cinnamon was mixed with about 2 tbsp salt, and rubbed in the meat. Peel cloves of garlic and onion, dice onion in large pieces, divide orange in parts. Preheat the oven to 125 degrees celcius, grease the crockpot with some oil. Place the pieces of meat tightly together in the crockpot, leaving as little space as possible, and preferably in a single layer. Then wedge bay leaves, pieces of cinnamon stick, onions and garlic in between the meat. The idea is that the meat becomes completely covered in fat and oil, leaving too much space requires more oil. Now squeeze the orange parts, and place the wedges in top. Cover the layer with fat and place the rind on top, cover it all with about 150ml oil, to add a small layer on top.

Cut a piece of baking paper to cover the layer, to prevent loss of liquid, and place lid on top of the crockpot. Place in the oven, and slowroast for 3-4 hours. Check once in a while if the meat is falling apart already.

After this stage, leave to cool for a bit, use a thong to remove cover, put aside the rind and fat chuncks. Remove orange peel, onions, garlic, cinnamon and bay leaves. Then drain meat and liquid in a colander, preserving the liquid and fat. If the meat is cooled down sufficiently, split into bitesize pieces, taste (it is delicious at this stage), and add salt if needed. These pieces can be stored in the refrigerator, or frozen.

The final step is to spread the pieces on a piece of baking paper, with the rind placed on top (make sure its salted sufficiently), and place under a broiler for 6 minutes, then turn the meat (rind again on top) for another 4-6 minutes, keep a close eye on this, it can burn easily…

Serve with tacos, salsa, or just keep eating the bits before serving 😉

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