Chili Today Carnitas
Makes a generous 5 cups.
Chili Today! uses several types of chilies and black pepper, along with onion, garlic, smoky cumin, and a hint of cinnamon to achieve a complex, satisfying aroma. These carnitas are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and strike a distinctly Tex-Mex chord. They’re awfully nice in sandwiches, tacos, or burritos (dolled up however you like). We recommend serving a light, crisp cabbage slaw alongside.
2½ pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into 2” cubes
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (from 2–3 large cloves)
2 tablespoons Chili Today! Spice
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh orange juice
Black pepper, to taste
Put the pork cubes into a large, heavy pot (such as an enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Add the remaining ingredients and stir once or twice to combine. Add enough water to cover the pork by ½” (about 4½ cups).
Set the pot over medium-high heat until the liquids boil; then, turn the heat down so that the liquids are gently simmering. Cook for about 2 hours, checking on the pot from time to time (and adding a little water to keep the pork submerged, if needed). After two hours of simmering, the pork should be getting quite tender — if it isn’t, continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
When the pork pulls apart with a little prodding from a fork, scoop out about half of the liquid and set it aside. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the liquid in the pot boil off. As it does, the pork will start to brown in residual fat — when the meat has lots of browned bits, add the reserved cooking liquid to the pot to deglaze it. Reduce the liquid by about half (leaving some nice, saucy juices). Remove the pot from the heat and let the meat cool for 10–15 minutes; then, shred it using two forks. Taste the carnitas and add more salt or a bit more vinegar to balance the flavor.
To make a simple slaw to serve with the carnitas, finely shred green cabbage. Toss the cabbage with some cilantro. Dress it with a pinch of salt, a little oil, a bit of honey, and some freshly squeezed lime juice. Toss to coat the cabbage evenly. The slaw should taste fresh and citrusy.