Saturday, July 16, 2011


Living in Los Angeles for the past 10 plus years and going to college at USC my friends and I are taco connoisseurs.  We’ve done taco trucks, gone to taco drive thrus where the pick up window is on the passenger side (CHANNOS!), had tacos from street vendors and even done 3-4 taco tours around the greater Los Angeles area.  (I think it’s time do another taco tour soon)  It’s fair to say, that we have had our fair share of good and bad tacos.  We’ve even tried birria (goat), tounge, potato and of course all of the fusion tacos that have hit LA in the past two years.  No matter how many tacos I have tried, I most often come back to and judge any taco establishment by their Carnitas taco. 


My friend J and her hubby recently had a cutie patootie named Mila (you might have remembered her baby shower).  After all the friends and family had cleared out, I had wanted to bring a meal over to their house.  Something that would make them a lot of food and would be easy to heat up.  I sent J a list of options and she choose the Carnitas!  I was excited since I had seen this recipe on Just One Cookbook and the Culinary Chronicles and had bookmarked it to make soon.  I was super excited since I had never made carnitas before and was curious to see how it was done.  Let me tell you super easy (though time consuming) and super delish! 

Braised Carnitas
adapted from Culinary Chronicles and Just One Cookbook

3-4 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 5 inch pieces
3 Tbsp. Sea Salt
2 Tbsp. oil
2 bottles Fat Tire Beer
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. Chile powder
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 tsp. Cumin
2 Bay Leaves

1.  Cut the pork shoulder into 5 inch pieces.  Rinse the pork pieces and pat dry with a paper towel and season pieces well with salt.


2.  Heat up the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cook the pieces of pork in a single layer, making sure not to over lap the pieces.  Cook the pork until they are well browned on each side.  Be sure to brown each side of the pork, this may take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.  *The browning is the best part, don’t skimp on this part since it creates the best flavor. Bits of fat and meat will stick to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry we’ll take those bits into the braising liquid.*


3.  Once pork is browned remove the pieces from the pot and blot of most of the excess oil using a paper towel.  Absorb most of the oil, leaving just 1 Tbsp. remaining in the pot.  Lower the heat to medium and add in the diced onions and cook until they are translucent.  Add in the garlic cooking for a minute, then slowly add in the beer.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. 



4.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add the spices and the pork back into the pot and place into the oven with the lid off.  Turn the pork about every 30 minutes, and cook for 3 to 3/12 hours.  The liquid will be mostly evaporated and the pork will be so tender it will almost fall apart.  Remove the pork pieces from the pan and let them cool. 


5.  Shred the pork into bite size pieces and serve!


This carnitas was so yummy!  JK and her hubby loved it.  We picked up some additional rice and beans to go along with the carnitas tacos and chips that I had brought over to the house.  This would be a great recipe to make when you have friends coming over.  While this recipe is time consuming, it’s relatively easy and for the most part you just have to flip the meat every 30 minutes.