29 November 2013

Beer Braised Carnita Tostadas

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you survived.  I don't support American consumerism, so instead of going out shopping today, I'm...supporting the Mexican margarita economy.  You can bet I've had some carnitas this week.  If you're missing out on leftover turkey because someone else was in charge of roasting this year, let me share with you a perfect lazy day meal.  Set it and forget it, then when you come back to it, something magical has transpired.  Kyle calls carnitas "the bacon of Mexico."

I've learned how to tell just how good a recipe is by my reaction to it.  Oh, this is good, I don't mind eating this for days - pretty great, but room for improvement (Curried Lentil Soup).  These are so delicious, we need to have people over so everyone can taste how great they are - if I want to show it off then it must be pretty awesome (Blackcap Cheesecake Pie).  Oh my gosh this is so good I'm so glad we waited until AFTER people left to make these - so amazing that I'm hoarding food.  This is top-shelf-delight (Buffalo Chicken Dip).  I hoarded these carnitas.  I raved about them, and then refused to share.  Don't call me selfish until you've tried them.
I'm still not a huge fan of pork.  I've started cooking an occasional tenderloin.  I had serious reservations when I saw the pork shoulder in the grocery store, but I powered through it.  The shoulder is cut into two inch chunks, fried, and then braised in a crockpot full of beer and spices.

Ten hours later, what had once been pork is now transformed into the tenderest, juiciest, tastiest meat to ever grace a tostada.
There were barely any chunks left to shred.  The only thing better than the flavor of these carnitas is realizing that there's enough meat there to last for a week of meals.
And since I'm in Mexico this week, here's my little south-of-the-border tribute:  tostadas.  It's a little bit like an open-faced quesadilla.  You can either fry up a tortilla, or bake it up per instructions in this post.
My favorite tostada is topped with carnitas, black beans, peppers, cilantro and cheese.  Feel free to mix it up and use whatever you want. 

Carnitas (barely adapted from here)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pork shoulder, around 4 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped (about 2 cups) - optional
  • 12 oz beer
1.  Mix up the spices (salt through pepper).  Set aside.
2.  Cut the pork into roughly 2-in. by 2-in. cubes.  Heat up a frying pan with a little oil in it.  When hot, add the pork cubes.  Turn the pork until it is seared on all sides.
3.  While the pork is cooking, put the onions and mushrooms in a  crockpot.  Move the pork to the crockpot, then evenly sprinkle the spice mixture over the pork.  Pour the beer over everything.
4.  Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours.  When you're ready, separate the pork from the juices, then shred the carnitas with two forks.  Carnitas can be stored in the juices, or separate.  Some juice will be necessary for reheating.
Serve carnitas any way that sounds good - over rice, in tacos, in tostadas, over nachos, etc.  It's okay if you're already planning on making carnitas instead of a turkey next year.  I'm sure your family will thank you.

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