Sunday, August 11, 2013

Recipe: 5 Spice Carnitas

Carnitas, or little meats, is one of my favorite Mexican dishes.  I had a 4 lb hunk of bone in pork shoulder in the fridge waiting for me to make Bun Thit Nuong, but I was in the mood to experiment.  And so came the birth of this 5 Spice Carnitas recipe.

4 lb pork shoulder, cut into cubes

Marinade Ingredients
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder
2 tbsp sesame oil
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp fish sauce

Braising Liquid
Chicken stock
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp Chinese 5 spice powder

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients and allow the pork shoulder cubes to marinade overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 350F.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a 5 quart dutch oven.  Brown the pork shoulder cubes.  Work in batches if you have to because if you overcrowd the meat, it will steam the meat instead of brown it.

4. Add enough chicken stock so that the pork pieces are 2/3 of the way covered.

5. Add the Chinese cooking wine, oyster sauce, 5 spice powder, and hoisin sauce.

6. Braise the pork in the oven for 3 hours.  Turn the pork a few times to ensure even cooking.

7. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pork to a platter to allow the pork to cool.  Once cooled, shred the pork.  

8.  Work in batches if you must: Transfer the shredded pork into a non stick skillet.  Add enough of the braising liquid to the skillet so that it comes halfway up to the pork.  Bring the mixture to a bubble.  This will assist in further infusing the pork with flavor.

9.  Remove the pork and add a bit of oil to the skillet.  Working in batches, return the shredded pork to the skillet and cook over medium high heat until the pork is crispy and caramelized.

Enjoy the carnitas over tortillas with your favorite sauce.  Here, I used salsa and a roasted tomatillo salsa verde.  For an Asian flair, serve the carnitas with a steamed Chinese bun, pickled vegetables, and hoisin sauce.

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