A few weeks ago it was a Saturday morning and I was supposed to be heading out on my final long run before the marathon. The day before, I’d heard back from my doctor that my MRI showed an area of stress and swelling in my tibia and his strong recommendation was that I not run and rest for six weeks. (Although I later decided to run, at this point I’d resolved myself to not running and was basically a basket case of emotions). I’m a big believer in allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel, but I also know myself well enough that I’ll feel better if I’m doing something else I enjoy and not dwelling on whatever is upsetting me.
Enter: carnitas. We bought the Food52 Genius Recipes cookbook a few weeks ago, and the carnitas recipe has been at the top of my list of recipes to try out ever since. This recipe really couldn’t be simpler: a few simple ingredients (you’ll need just pork, salt, and water) + a few hours of your time, some unattended. From there, the options are endless – the meat can be used in tacos or burritos, put on top of nachos, rolled into enchiladas, on a sandwich, and the list goes on.
We decided to use our carnitas in small street tacos, and went the extra mile to make a few homemade corn tortillas. They require some patience, but they do get easier the more often you make them, and they are always worth it. (Of course, your favorite store-bought corn or flour tortillas would work just fine here, too). Besides the meat and tortillas, you won’t need much else: we topped ours with diced white onion, chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, and queso fresco, and they were perfect.
A genius recipe, indeed.
Diana Kennedy’s Carnitas (from Food52)
-2 teaspoons salt
-cold water, to cover
2. Lower the flame enough to bring down to a simmer. Let the meat continue simmering until all the liquid has evaporated -- about 1 hour and a half, depending on the shape of your pot. By this time the meat should be cooked through but not falling apart.
3. Lower the flame a little more and continue cooking the meat until all the fat has rendered out of it. Keep turning the meat until it is lightly browned all over -- about 1 hour and 10 minutes.