Carnitas de Cerdo en Pequeñas Tortillas de Maíz
Little Pieces of Browned Pork in Small Corn Tortillas
Well made carnitas (little pieces of browned pork) are one of my favorite Mexican foods. This way of preparation, from the central area of Mexico, is very flavorful, moist and crispy-tender if prepared properly. Just take care that the meat does not dry out, adding a little water as needed.
The meat is delicious simply wrapped in a fresh, warm tortilla with some fresh salsa, a couple of condiments such as radish slices, sour cream, cilantro sprigs, and some good guacamole if you have it.
This is my take on a smaller version, perfect for party food.
You may be able to find the very small fresh corn tortillas where you live, but they are not available where I am, so I make my own. They are very easy to prepare, and are infinitely better than the grocery store variety.
To serve these smaller sized portions, I like to make a cone of parchment paper, turn the warm tortilla into a cone then fill and garnish, and slip it into the parchment paper. Serving them this way make them much neater to eat as party food.
I use a classic recipe for cooking the meat, as I learned from Diana Kennedy. You will need a cut of pork with a good amount of fat to lean, this just will not work with a lean cut of meat.
A Dutch or French oven, or flameproof dish
3 pounds pork shoulder, skin and bone removed
(look for a piece with a fair amount of fat, it's necessary for this dish)
Cold water to barely cover
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Cut the meat, with the fat into strips about 2-inches by 3/4-inches or so.
Place the meat in the pot and barely cover with water, add salt and bring to a boil, uncovered.
Lower the heat and allow meat to continue cooking briskly until all of the liquid has evaporated, it should be cooked through but not falling apart.
Again, reduce the heat a bit and continue cooking the meat until all of the fat has rendered out of it.
Turn the meat until it is lightly browned all over and crisped on the edges.
If you are using the full 3 pounds of meat this may take about 45 minutes to an hour or so.
Diana's Notes: There is no need for an expensive cut of meat, shoulder, butt, or country style pork ribs are all suitable.
If you have a choice, the meat will cook more evenly if the pot or dish you cook it in is rather large and shallow. Resist adding too much water at the beginning of cooking time or the meat will fall apart during the frying stage.
Should you find the meat is still rather hard when the water has evaporated, add a little more water and continue cooking.
My Notes: Sometimes I cook the meat a day or two ahead of time, when reheating (in the oven, or on stove top) I add a little water to assure tender, moist meat.
These are delicious served in full size flour or corn tortillas a well.