Mucho Gusto

Nico’s Carnitas

This is the thirteenth installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!

Make if you have: Pork Butt, Time, Tortillas

I served this at a super bowl party and it slapped. It’s easy, delicious, and teaches you the fundamentals of braising without much work.

3 lbs Pork Butt (bone in or not doesn’t matter – the bone adds nutrients but is a hassle so, up to you)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika

2 onions

5 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

4 slices of orange peel (optional)

Salt and pepper

Tortillas, onions and cilantro for serving.

Start by taking a big, hefty pork butt (also called pork shoulder or Boston butt, shout out Boston), and if you’re trying to figure out how much to buy, get about a half pound per person. Play butcher and cut your pork into 1-inch cubes. Put those chunks into a pot. 

Roughly chop two onions, and throw that into the pot as well. Optionally at this point, take some orange peel (half- to a full-orange’s worth, depending on your taste), and throw that in the pot too. Oh, smash about 4 garlic cloves and throw those in there too. Sprinkle about a tablespoon’s worth of ground cumin and paprika into the pot, and add maybe a teaspoon of cayenne if you like it spicy. And never forget a hefty pinch of salt and maybe 6 good twists of black pepper, but don’t overdo it now, you can always add salt in later.

Fill the pot with water to the point where the water is just barely covering everything, and bring it up to a boil. A lot of scum is going to rise to the top, and while it’s perfectly safe, we like a clear braise, so feel free to scoop that off and toss it down the sink. Once it’s up to a boil, turn down your heat and simmer that for about 2-3 hours, no lid.

When almost all of the water has evaporated and the pork is cooked through and super soft, take out your pork with tongs and put it on a baking sheet or a casserole dish. Take two forks and shred apart all that meat, and drizzle it with a healthy amount, but definitely not all, of your delicious braising liquid. That stuff is liquid gold, it has all the nutrients and fat that was rendered out in your cooking time, and it’ll crisp up your pork nicely.

Broil that in an oven until it’s crispy on top, and then serve it on a warm tortilla, heated over an open flame obviously. For toppings, only finely chopped white onion and cilantro are allowed. And Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, and remember, it commemorates the Battle of Puebla which was fought against the French forces when they came to imperialize in 1862—not Mexican independence. That’s September 16. Viva Mexico!

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