A lot of the time, our ideas for what-to-make-for-dinner come from walking around the grocery store for inspiration. I’m not one for pre-planning, and when I do plan out dinners for a week, I get bored easily and change them up as I go along. I had no idea what to make for dinner one night last week, so the BF and I went into our local grocery store, just poking around and seeing what was on sale. And then… we saw it. A 4lb pork butt roast, on sale for only $10! (It’s expiration date was only a day away, which explains the “Managers Special” we got.)
What could we make with pork butt? What is pork butt anyway? Pork butt isn’t from the butt of the pig, it’s from the shoulder, and has a fat cap (basically a thick blanket of fat on the top of the roast) and a lot of connective tissue within the meat itself. This all means that any process of cooking this thing, needs to be low and slow, and include a lot of liquid to help it along.
Our eyes widened as we realized that with this roast, we could make CARNITAS! Oh joy of joys!! Oh how I love carnitas so! But I had never made it before, and to be quite honest, the first time I ever had carnitas in my life was when I was 18 years old (Well yknow, Italian/Polish family in upstate NY and child of two stubborn parents, there wasn’t a lot of variety in the way of “ethnic cuisine.”). The initial idea of making carnitas felt intimidating.. I didn’t know if I had the right spices, or liquids, or cooking vessels. Whew… I took a breath and started looking up recipes online.
Being stubborn myself, and generally a wild child, I didn’t want to follow an exact recipe for this because I wanted to make my own, but I needed to know the basics. So here are the basics: You need a lot of liquid, and spices. There. You’re welcome. Below is my own recipe for carnitas, and it turned out bold, tender, moist, and filled with a symphony of flavors. There, sound good enough yet?
We had achieved success. (Oh, and try clicking on the picture. It’s maaaaagic!)
For storage, after it was completely cooled, I put some in plastic containers and froze it for later.
The rest? We ate for lunch and dinner the next two days! Before serving, pop some butter (or lard) in a pan, let it get nice and hot, and throw some of the carnitas in, to get the edges all browned and crispy.
Pork butt roasts (and most roasts) are generally affordable, by pound, and a great idea because you’ll be getting more than one meal out of them, and/or you’ll be able to serve a large crowd. Plus it makes your house smell amazing, and people who aren’t in-the-know, are impressed by your skills.
Now that I’ve got carnitas down, I want to try and tackle the tamale monster that’s been plaguing me for so long… plus, I have friends waiting for me to make them tamales. But that’s another post now, isn’t it?