I think I qualify as a homesick Texan, although clearly I’m not on par with the Homesick Texan. However, some of the items I have gone out of my way to find or reproduce here include: pickled jalapenos, sour cream, hot sauce, tortillas, and guacamole, something which would never have happened before I moved to Texas ten years ago. I find myself increasingly browsing her site, searching for recipes that will bring me the most accurate taste of home!
My first experience making carnitas was after my friend Nick over at Gourmet Heathen made them for us following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. His turned out juicy, yet crusty and caramelized. Mine, due to an omission in one step of the recipe, turned out dry and dull, and exceedingly disappointing. I was crushed, and although I was eventually able to reproduce his lovely results, never grew to like that recipe. It seemed to me that the process was far too fussy, which was part of the reason I had accidentally left out a step the first time I made them.
Enter moving to Spain and not having a real oven. I couldn’t have made the Cook’s Illustrated recipe if I wanted to, but I knew that if I were able to cobble together carnitas, it would be an extra-special treat for Matt, who loved them. After a bit of internet research, I came upon Lisa’s recipe, which seemed far too straight forward and simple. But I’ve been so pleased with the quality of the meat here so far, I thought I would give it a shot.
What brilliant results! Gently rendering the fat from the bits of pork in water before allowing it all to boil off is genius, and incredibly easy. Once the meat was tender, I was able to easily shred it up right in the pot, allowing it to crisp even further and sparing myself the tedious task of slicing each individual piece in half before laying them out to broil, as called for in the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. It was a moment’s work to put my pre-assembled condiments on the table, making this one of the easiest, but tastiest, dinners I have made yet.
Recipe courtesy of the Homesick Texan
Get yourself a half a kilo of pork butt, which may necessitate some on the fly google translate and fun pantomimes with your local butcher. Cut your pork into strips, or chunks, or what have you, just cut it up so the fat can render nicely in your liquid. Add a cup of orange juice, three cups of water and a generous dash of salt. Bring to a simmer and cover. RESIST THE URGE TO POKE THE MEAT. Let render for two hours.
Turn the heat up and let the remaining liquid boil off. The meat should be fork tender, and now is a good time to shred it up if you like. Stirring the pot a few times should break up any big chunks, but the smaller you shred it, the more crispy bits you’ll get as it continues to cook in the rendered fat.
Serve when browned, crisp, and shredded to your liking. I highly recommend Homesick Texan’s Pico de Gallo recipe, warm flour tortillas, fresh avocado and some sour cream as accompaniments to this dish.
Expat sour cream:
Mix 20cL of creme fraiche with 125g of plain yogurt and the juice from one lemon. Blend well, whipping as necessary to obtain your desired texture.