Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mama Ozzy's Beer-Braised Carnitas

I don't remember when I came up with this recipe.  I think it was after I had the stellar carnitas at one of Durham NC's stellar watering holes, The Federal.

The Federal has an excellent menu featuring incredible garlic fries, amazing duck confit tacos and, of course carnitas.  Carnitas are a slow-braised spiced pork, and every time I go to The Federal, its what I order.  So of course I wanted to try to make them at home.

These are unbelievably easy to prepare if you have a pressure cooker.  The entire time is reduced from 6 hours in a low heat oven, to an hour and a half on the stove.  They are incredibly fragrant and spicy.  I love to cook the pork, rubbed in spices on a bed of onions and braised with beer.

These carnitas are fantastic with soft flour tortillas and some avacado.  I also really love to use the leftover to make huevos rancheros with eggs and some salsa and sour cream.

Mama Ozzy's Beer-Braised Carnitas
serves 12

5 lb boneless pork shoulder

1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp achiote powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

3 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick discs
3 cups beer

In a small bowl combine all the spices and mix well.  Pat spice rub generously all over pork shoulder.

Place a layer of onions in the bottom of a pressure cooker.  Place spice-rubbed pork atop the bed of onions.  Add beer slowly to pot, being careful not to wash the spice rub off the pork.

Place a layer of thick-sliced onions in the bottom of the pressure cooker...

Then place the spice-rubbed pork atop the bed of onions.

Pressure cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until meat is extremely tender and falls apart with a fork.

Remove pork from pot and allow to cool.  Cook the remaining liquid in the pot over high heat, without a lid, until it is reduced to a thick sauce.  Remove from heat.

With two forks, pull the pork into chunks.  Toss with reduced cooking sauce, adjust to taste with salt.  Serve with warm tortillas, minced cilantro, avacado slices and Cotija cheese.

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