Source: Schneider, Sara. "The Great Taco Hunt," Sunset magazine. March 2000. pp 108-116.
La Taqueria Carnitas
(photo on cover)
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 4 1/2 hours
NOTES: At La Taqueria in San Francisco, owner Miguel Jara cooks pork in cauldrons of bubbling lard until tender, then roasts it to make crowd-pleasing carnitas. At home, braise the pork, then roast until tender-crisp. For best results, select meat with the most fat marbling; fat is rendered during roasting, making the carnitas moist and crisp. Garnish tacos with cotija cheese, Cafe Azul tomatillo-avocado salsa (page 116), and diced tomatoes. If cooking meat up to 3 days ahead, chill airtight; freeze to store longer.
MAKES: 8 to 9 cups
1 boned, tied pork shoulder or butt (4 to 5 lb.)
2 onions (1 lb. total), peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery (including leaves), rinsed and cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
about 1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1. Rinse pork and put in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Add onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoons salt and enough water to cover meat -- 2½ to 3½ quarts.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, 2 to 2½ hours. With slotted spoons, transfer pork to a 9- by 13-inch pan; reserve cooking juices. Discard string, and use 2 forks to pull meat into large chunks. Pour milk over meat.
3. Bake pork in a 325-degree oven until drippings are browned, about 1 hour, stirring and scraping pan occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, pour reserved juices through a strainer into a bowl; discard residue. Skim and discard fat. Return juices to pan. Boil over high hear until reduced to 2 cups, about 45 minutes.
5. When pork drippings are browned, add 1 cup of the reduced juices; scrape drippings free and stir meat, breaking into smaller pieces. Bake until juices have evaporated and drippings are browned, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Repeat step, using remaining juices, and cook until meat edges are crisp and browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt.
Per ½ cup: 255 cal., 67% (171 cal.) from fat; 17 g protein; 19 g fat (6.9 g sat.); 3 g carb (0.5 g fiber); 191 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.
Café Azul Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa
PREP TIME: About 30 minutes
NOTES: According to chef Claire Archibald, Portlanders travel across town for this sprightly green salsa.
MAKES: About 2½ cups
1/3 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved
¼ pound fresh jalapeño chilies, rinsed, stemmed, seeded and halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 firm-ripe avocado (about ½ lb.), peeled and diced
½ cup minced onion
1½ to 2 tablespoons lime juice
1. In a blender or food processor, whirl tomatillos, chilies, garlic and cilantro until coarsely puréed. Pour into a bowl
2. Stir in olive oil, avocado and onion. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
Per tablespoon: 13 cal., 69% (9 cal.) from fat; 0.2 g protein; 1 g fat (0.1 g sat.); 0.8 g carb (0.2 g fiber); 0.8 mg sodium, 0 mg chol.