Monday, June 4, 2012

truck month carnitas

what's it gonna take to get you into a pile of carnitas today?

Bottom line: June is Truck Month in Texas, or so the TV tells me. Constantly. Truck Month is a traditional & festive time at one's local ford, chevy or dodge dealer. The dude from blazing saddles is there. It's a magical, magical, limited-time only season.

I love the truck holidays.

Were you good this year? Yeah? Then enjoy the best payload* in class in your stocking. Unwrap a crew cab. Decorate your shrub (it'a shrub for truck month) with very low APR. Have a new car smell flavored gin cocktail. And never forget the true meaning of truck month: hurrying to get yourself a good deal on a full size pickup before the savings on model year end close outs is history.

Obviously Truck Month is important, so I wanted to ring in the Season with savings! Er, with deliciousness. I give you the national dish of Truck Month. Carnitas.
i accept the responsibility, taco gods

I bitched a while back about taquerias serving up bad carnitas. Don't ruin truck month by making me talk about it again. This is how to not make them bad. It's a pretty simple pork shoulder confit. What's a confit, you pompous douche, you ask? In olden (pre-refrigeration) times it was a preservation method whereby meat (or whatever) was cooked in rendered fat, then allowed to cool in said fat. The fat congealed, got covered in cloth & the contents were preserved inside soooo much cooled, rendered fat, like Han Solo in carbonite. Nowadays obviously, a refrigerator stands in nicely for the old (whatever they used to store it in) of fat, so what you're left with is the cooking method. Essentially: simmering something immersed in hot fat. A slow deep fry.**

Before you start bitching about your arteries, it's not as bad as it sounds. There's no breading; no fat is being absorbed by the meat. Pork shoulder is naturally fatty, but a confit of pork is no fattier than braised pork. It also keeps the meat more moist, because... fuck it, somebody else explain...

meet lois, your new bff
If you're gonna start confiting, you're gonna want to start keeping a bucket of lard in your fridge. Reusing lard adds flavor. I know what you're thinking: a bucket of lard in my fridge? C'mon guy, isn't that disgusting and weird? Relax. And don't call me guy. It's not what it sounds like. Its actually a tupperware filled with lard. Totally different. Stick it in the back of the fridge and don't think about it. Or try giving your lard a name, like Lois, to humanize it, so you stop judging it. And if Lois gets nasty and has to go away, invest in Lois 2. You have to get over the lard thing if you want to make this.

Trust me: do it.

Make these carnitas and then maybe head out to your neighborhood Toyota dealer. Bring 'em some. Let them know you appreciate what they do. While you're there, if you wanna take a look at some serious savings on Tacomas & Tundras... hey, all the better. Happy Truck Month, everyone.

truck month carnitas
pork is for lovers
(servings vary. it goes quickly)

gotsa have:

2 lb pork shoulder, cut into 2 squarish chunks
salt, pepper, cumin
zest or peel of a navel orange (that's the size you're going for but any type of orange is ok)
lard. 4lb bucket of lard (you only need half, don't be a pussy). you'll know when you see it, because it's in a damn bucket
a sweet catch phrase-- I suggest "sweet sassy molassey"

bring the lard up to about medium heat. i like to spike mine with some bacon grease too***

dust your pork chunks with salt, pepper & cumin (or whatever you like if you wanna not copy me). press it in there to help get a crust.

drop the pork chunks and orange peel into the lard and reduce the heat to low to med-low. you want a lazy lazy simmer.

(catch phrase)

burn in heaven carnitas
let it go about 2 hours (maybe 2.5), turning every hour if the pork pieces are not quite covered (cover them as much as possible). they should have some give, but not be jiggly yet. when you get that par-jiggle, crank the heat to med-hi, until you get a nice brown crust (20 minutes or so). the pork should now have a little wiggle to it (catch phrase).

take the pork out & let it drain and rest (it's had a long day) for a bit, at least 15 minutes. should be up near 180-190 internally.

time's up? (catch phrase)**** whack it to pieces with a big knife.

If you've done it right, you'll have this rich, juicy pulled pork/cripsy bits/fleshy bites hybrid. With a little orange hint. Good luck not grabbing a handful off the top and shoving it into your mouth. Suffice it to say, it's a gift from the taco gods.

Random pic of my brother's mustache:
another taco pic. add it to the pile.
And scene.

*payload? what the fuck is payload supposed to be and how are we supposed to not think it sounds porno-ey?
**you can still, like the traditional method, cool the meat inside the cooking fat. some people say this method is best, that it adds flavor. it doesn't, but suit yourself. its not gonna hurt.
***yup, vat o' lard in the fridge, bacon grease in the freezer, virginia ham next to my fax machine: the pig essentials
****you overdid it with the catch phrase. you're just... you're over selling it.

i wish every month was truck month. oh snap. it is.

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