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Help - TMI Regarding Pork Carnitas

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  • efincoop
    Club Member
    • Jan 2016
    • 106
    • Upstate NY, by upstate I don't just mean 30 miles north of NYC ;-)
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      Straight Whiskey: I'm a bourbon guy. All time favorite Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Standard go to Blantons
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    Help - TMI Regarding Pork Carnitas

    Hi Folks,

    Full disclosure, I over analyze everything. Okay, now that we have that out of the way.... We are hosting a "Derby DeMayo" gathering tomorrow & I plan to make pork "carnitas" for a taco bar setup.

    I have researched the recipes on this site as well as other sources too. I am overwhelmed with how many recipes exist for what would seem a relatively basic dish.

    The traditionalists say just salt, simmer in a mixture of pork lard (or vegetable oil) and water with no cover. When the water evaporates, it frys in the fat and crisps up. Many recipes call for a flavorful bath with citrus, onions garlic and lots of seasonings, while still others just give it a rub & smoke as they would pulled pork.

    Right now the pork shoulder is dry brining with just salt and I torn on how to cook it. Do I cut it up and simmer it in a dutch over or foil pan in the grill, or do I smoke it like I would normally smoke a pork butt? Do I fry the finished product the more traditional way, or spritz it with oil and slide it under the broiler to crisp the edges.

    I know lots of members have made this various ways, so I looking for a little advice and some help saving me from myself!
  • CaptainMike
    Club Member
    • Nov 2015
    • 2361
    • The Great State of Jefferson
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    #2
    I've done "the little meats" a number of ways, but have settled on this as my favorite (as well as friends and family):

    Cut the pork roast into tennis ball sized or so chunks and smoke with fruitwood at very low temp, no higher than 225, for 1.5 hrs. Add 2-3 Tbsp of cooking oil to a large DO and lightly brown the chunks over MH heat, add chicken broth to cover, toss in 1 each of quartered yellow onion, lemon and large navel orange and 2 each quartered limes, along with S&P and a generous amount of cumin. Bring to a simmer while setting up charcoal grill to run at 300-350 with about an hours worth of fruitwood chunks. Place DO without lid into the cooker and close it up. Allow to smoke/cook for 1.5 hours at 300-350, stirring occasionally. Add hot water or chicken broth as needed to keep everything ALMOST covered (you want some chunks exposed to the smoke). Replace DO lid and continue to simmer in covered cooker for 1 1/2 more hrs. Drain, strain and shred, place on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil to your preference.

    It comes out moist with a very nice crispiness and mild smoke profile. Plus it's fun to cook!

    Click image for larger version  Name:	carnita.1.jpg Views:	2 Size:	915.0 KB ID:	673773

    Click image for larger version  Name:	carnita.2.jpg Views:	2 Size:	960.8 KB ID:	673774

    Click image for larger version  Name:	carnita.4.jpg Views:	1 Size:	1.13 MB ID:	673775
    Last edited by CaptainMike; May 3rd, 2019, 05:57 PM.

    Comment

    • HouseHomey
      Club Member
      • May 2016
      • 5068
      • Huntington Beach, Ca. Surf City USA.
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      #3
      That depends.

      traditionally they are slow fried in lard. That’s the thing that makes them “Carnitas.” The add ins to the lard are a variance on flavor, technique and what’s available.

      1) Now ask yourself “how Is it going to be used?” Tacos.

      2) Next “what is my desired outcome for the product?” (Crispy, soft as in a braise or with bark etc..)

      3) Next “Is my desired outcome keeping with what my guest want and what I want to serve?” If so go to #4 if not start over.

      4) Next “how will the leftovers be used?”

      5) Next “Are all my above answers in congruence?”

      Now you have your cooking technique to mesh with your schedule. If it don’t jive the redo the questions.

      Just as you don’t have a “Chicago dog” if you add katsup you dont have carnitas if they are not fried.

      Just make tasty pork pork and your guests will be happy.











      Comment


      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with HH, it’s a simple Mexican peasant taco filler. It’s their version of pulled pork. All other may be very good and tasty but it’s not traditional carnitas. If you want traditional KISS 😘

      • Bkhuna
        Bkhuna commented
        Editing a comment
        Traditionally, they are braised in lard, a la confit.

      • HouseHomey
        HouseHomey commented
        Editing a comment
        @Bkuna a braise and confit are a general contradiction. A braise typically is covered with a some liquid about 1/3 of the the way up the protein. Confit (like duck 1/4’s) is submerged in a fat.
    • mnavarre
      Club Member
      • Jan 2018
      • 472
      • San Diego

      #4
      I really like this recipe from Serious Eats. It's really easy, really good, and works great on the grill. I just use the smallest foil pan that will fit all the meat, give it some light smoke for an hour or so, and then foil the pan and let it braise. Once it's done and pulled crisping it up is just a matter of throwing it under the broiler and crisping it up if you're serving it all at once, or using a griddle or skillet to crisp it up as needed.

      Comment

      • efincoop
        Club Member
        • Jan 2016
        • 106
        • Upstate NY, by upstate I don't just mean 30 miles north of NYC ;-)
        • Webber Performer Premium 22"
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          Beer: I love IPA's. Davidson Brother's (Glens Falls NY) is one of my favorites
          Wine: I like big reds - Cabs, Zins, etc.
          Straight Whiskey: I'm a bourbon guy. All time favorite Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Standard go to Blantons
          Blended Whiskey: James Oliver American Whiskey

        #5
        Thank you all! I'm mulling your advice as I sit on the couch sipping a beer & watching playoff hockey. I'll post back tomorrow with how I decide to go. I always value the time folks on this site take to help each other out. Tonight is no different.

        Comment

        • efincoop
          Club Member
          • Jan 2016
          • 106
          • Upstate NY, by upstate I don't just mean 30 miles north of NYC ;-)
          • Webber Performer Premium 22"
            Vision Classic B (Kamodo) Grill
            Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Thermometer
            Maverick ET-732 Remoter Remote BBQ Thermometer
            Beer: I love IPA's. Davidson Brother's (Glens Falls NY) is one of my favorites
            Wine: I like big reds - Cabs, Zins, etc.
            Straight Whiskey: I'm a bourbon guy. All time favorite Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Standard go to Blantons
            Blended Whiskey: James Oliver American Whiskey

          #6
          CaptainMike do you know how big your Dutch Oven is?

          Comment


          • CaptainMike
            CaptainMike commented
            Editing a comment
            The one in the photos is a 12 qt. You can make 10-12 servings in that size.
        • Red Man
          Club Member
          • May 2018
          • 926
          • Western Washington

          #7
          I love making carnitas with leftover pulled pork! I smoke a butt, pull it, reheat leftovers by frying in a cast iron skillet. The pork fry’s in its own fat making it nice and crispy 😋

          Comment

          • efincoop
            Club Member
            • Jan 2016
            • 106
            • Upstate NY, by upstate I don't just mean 30 miles north of NYC ;-)
            • Webber Performer Premium 22"
              Vision Classic B (Kamodo) Grill
              Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Thermometer
              Maverick ET-732 Remoter Remote BBQ Thermometer
              Beer: I love IPA's. Davidson Brother's (Glens Falls NY) is one of my favorites
              Wine: I like big reds - Cabs, Zins, etc.
              Straight Whiskey: I'm a bourbon guy. All time favorite Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Standard go to Blantons
              Blended Whiskey: James Oliver American Whiskey

            #8
            CaptainMike ata-cke-saved-href="#" href="#" class="b-bbcode-user b-bbcode-user--has-avatar js-bbcode-user js-bbcode-user--userid9687" style="background-image: url("https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/core/image.php?userid=9687&thumb=1&dateline=1543870574" );">CaptainMike ncoop;n673838]CaptainMike do you know how big your Dutch Oven is?[/QUOTE]

            Thank you CaptainMike!

            Comment


            • CaptainMike
              CaptainMike commented
              Editing a comment
              I do mine in the WSCG, but your kamado would be great for this.
          • Troutman
            Club Member
            • Aug 2017
            • 7195
            • Republic of Texallence

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            #9
            Pork, lard, water, garlic and salt. That’s the way the Mexicanos in Matzatlan (birthplace of carnitas) do it. Keep it simple.

            Comment


            • HouseHomey
              HouseHomey commented
              Editing a comment
              Oh man that flavor or pork, lard and garlic. I’m starving now!!
          • efincoop
            Club Member
            • Jan 2016
            • 106
            • Upstate NY, by upstate I don't just mean 30 miles north of NYC ;-)
            • Webber Performer Premium 22"
              Vision Classic B (Kamodo) Grill
              Lavatools Javelin Digital Instant Read Thermometer
              Maverick ET-732 Remoter Remote BBQ Thermometer
              Beer: I love IPA's. Davidson Brother's (Glens Falls NY) is one of my favorites
              Wine: I like big reds - Cabs, Zins, etc.
              Straight Whiskey: I'm a bourbon guy. All time favorite Pappy Van Winkle 12 year. Standard go to Blantons
              Blended Whiskey: James Oliver American Whiskey

            #10
            Hi All, just wanted to follow up, thank you for your input and let you know that everything turned out great. I wound up using a mashup of your suggestions. I started out by smoking the dry brined pork butt at 250 for about 4 hours. It was at 152 degrees IT and I needed my kamado for ribs, so I made a flavorful braising liquid using the ingredients from CaptainMike 's recipe, put it in a half hotel pan and tossed it on my Weber. Once it was probe tender, I pulled the pork I poured the remaining liquid (it had cooked down considerably) over it and served it. The next day I took what was left over & pan fried it. It was even better the second time around! Next time I will make it a day ahead of time. I have to say I enjoyed this better than any Southern style pulled pork & plan to experiment with some variations moving forward.
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