As I mentioned the other day, I'm on a beer kick, specifically cooking with beer. I have made a pot of cheese fondue with Guiness, Mark Bittman's wheat bread, Bittman's cheese and cauliflower soup, and now Bittman's carnitas braised in wheat beer.
Husband says nobody likes pork, but I know that's not true, and I know that pork braised in beer can only be good, don't you think? Or I should say, don't you know that, too? Pork shoulder is the cut of meat you use to make a good southern barbecue, and you cook it all day long so it's tender and flavorful and shreddable. So, when Bittman said to use pork shoulder for carnitas, I said OK.
You don't cook the meat whole—you cut it into bite-sized pieces, which lets you cook it for just one hour instead of eight or nine, but here's what I learned about cutting pork shoulder into little pieces—1) cutting a hunk of meat up like that is enough to make a person a vegetarian. 2) I need sharper knives.
I finally finished the unpleasant task of pork cutting and went from there with the recipe. While the meat simmered in wheat beer, I made a batch of pico de gallo—a mix of diced Roma tomatoes, diced red onion, cilantro, a splash of lime, some olive oil and salt and pepper. And I sauteed some sweet corn in a skillet until it was almost charred. The house smelled terrific, and I couldn't wait for dinner. Heat some flour tortillas in the oven, assemble the ingredients in them like little pockets, and yum! Husband thought the cheese soup from the day before made for a "pleasant" meal but didn't care for this dish. I loved it.
I didn't take a picture of the stuff, which didn't quite look like Bittman's version you can see here, but here is the recipe. Enjoy.
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, quartered
5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 ancho or other mild dried chili
Salt and black pepper
2 12-ounce bottles Allagash white, or another beer in the Belgian witbier (wheat beer) style, like Hoegaarden
1. Put the pork, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon,
chili and some salt and pepper in a large pot with a lid or a Dutch
oven. Add the beer and water if needed to cover. Turn the heat to high,
bring to a boil and skim any foam that comes to the surface. Partly
cover and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cook until
the meat is quite tender, about 1 hour, then cool.
2. Remove the bay leaves, spices and chili with a slotted spoon and
discard. Break or roughly chop the meat into bite-size pieces, return to
the pan and cook uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated.
Continue to cook the meat in the remaining fat until it’s crisped and
browned; add a little oil if it sticks or becomes dry. Serve hot, warm
or at room temperature with the lime wedges, or cover and refrigerate
for up to 2 days.