Homemade Hard Taco Night with Carnitas and Pinto Beans
2 – 2.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder or butt
1 navel orange
4 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, diced, divided (about 2 cups)
2 cups chicken stock
1 bunch cilantro
some fresh tomatoes
2 ripe avocados
1 small jalapeno (optional)
12 10″ corn tortillas
oil for frying
sea salt, cracked black pepper, ground cumin
shredded monterey jack cheese
Into a hot pan sizzling with a glug or two of EVOO I sear my pork, using tongs to turn each piece over until each side of each cube is nicely browned.
I add my onion, garlic, and a healthy handful of chopped cilantro (about a cup) to my sizzling pork pieces, and toss well. I cook this until the onion softens… about 4 minutes.
Then I add my orange juice and the juice from 12 a lime, which I stir in well. I bring them just to a boil before I add my chicken stock, which covers about 3/4 of my meat. I set the heat to medium, and bring this to a slow simmer to braise for the next three hours.
I fried taco shells by adding a few inches of vegetable oil to a deep fry pan and set it to high heat. When sizzling, using tongs, I floated 1/2 of a 10″ corn tortilla on the surface of the blistering oil – about 5 seconds did the trick, or until it set.
Moving quickly but carefully, I flipped the tortilla over, rolling it in the oil, releasing the tongs from one edge and immediately catching the other edge in their grip.
Holding the other edge under the hot oil, I fried it until crunchy, then dipped the center fold into the pot to crisp it up last. Be careful to pour all the oil out when lifting your shells from the fryer. I sprinkled them with sea salt while hot
I put my small deep pan, with a few glugs of EVOO, over the heat for about 10 minutes before adding 1/2 a cup of my diced onion and some minced garlic. I cook this until just softened and fragrant. Then I add about a teaspoon of black pepper, a healthy sprinkling of cumin, and a dash of sea salt. Finally, I add my can of pinto beans, liquid and all. I cover and bring to a simmer, heating all the beans through.
I peel, mash and add fresh cilantro, a dash of minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, sea salt, cracked black pepper, 1/2 of the rest of my diced red onion, and ground cumin to my avocados to make gaucamole.
In another bowl, I’ve mixed my diced tomatoes, some diced red onion, minced garlic, fresh cilantro, the juice of 1/2 a lime, a glug of EVOO, and a dash of white vinegar together (along with some diced jalapeno, if you want heat), to make a quick fresh delicious pico de gallo.
My carnitas are perfect: their edges are caramelized and crunchy, their interiors tender and falling apart at the tiniest touch of a fork. I scoop about 4 tablespoons of that uber-rich pork/citrus/chicken/EVOOfat up and dump it into my beans for flavor.
After about 15 minutes, and some squishing of beans with my fork, they are thick and syrupy and ready for another shot of pepper and some fresh cilantro. If you like things hot, some jalapeno could be added to this mix, or a dash or two of hot pepper oil.
Finally, as the sun sets in the west, my tacos are ready to be eaten. We each make our own: mine has an underlayer of soft shredded cheese, a heaping helping of tender, citrus-spiced pork, some pico, some guacamole, some sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro on top, along with some cheese and cream on my beans, too.
Each delightful bite is a mouthful of fresh, heady flavors, bright with herbs and orange/lime, deep with cumin and pepper spice. The cooling avocado and tangy tomatoes compliment the richness of the stewed meat, and the crispy, salty corn shells hold their shape, perfectly encasing each fantastic nibble.
Slow stewed, citrus punched, shredded pork shoulder – a variation on Lolita’s carnitas – packed into fresh fried corn taco shells with guacamole, pico de gallo, and jack cheese, served with pinto beans on the side.
August 29, 2011