How’s this for simple brilliance? Put a fatty pork shoulder in a pot with some water and cook it. Keep cooking it, and the water will boil off, leaving meat and the fat that has rendered in the process. Keep cooking it, and the wonderfully slow cooked, falling apart meat will proceed to fry in its own fat, leaving you with some absolutely delicious twice-cooked pork. This is the elegant concept behind carnitas, or “little meats” which I have enjoyed many a time in tacos and burritos, but never known the process behind.
All the pork shoulders at my friendly local meat counter were trimmed of fat for the typical consumer, so I had to purchase some extra lard to put in the pot with my meat. Then I cooked it, and kept cooking it, and put it in the oven to keep cooking once all the liquid was gone, much as described in this recipe at Leite’s Culinaria (which is a very cool recipe site, by the way. Check it out.) and in sundry variations on other sites across the web.
It took a nice Saturday afternoon, and produced some delicious results. This is what it looked like.
Give this a try. You won’t be disappointed. There are recipes all over the web, so I’m sure you can find a variation that works for you, but I noticed that many of them don’t take it all the way to “frying the meat in its own fat.” Rather, they just finish when the liquid is gone and it’s nicely briased. I recommend taking that extra step for maximum crispy deliciousness.