Almost three pounds of pork shoulder has been simmering on my stovetop for about the last three hours. The rich smells of pork fat, chili powder, onion, and garlic perfume my small loft apartment; it’s as though I have drifted away from the bustling city of Providence, Rhode Island, and into a burnt orange adobe home in rural Mexico.
I found the recipe for the pork carnitas on Allrecipes.com. While I’m not sure how authentically Mexican the meal is, the taste is the perfect balance of the melt in your mouth meat that has been slow cooking for hours, and the freshness of cilantro, corn, avocado, tomatoes and lime that add a much needed lightness to the dish. The shredded pork is juicy, drunken with its internal jucies and bath of spiced chicken stock that has gently rolled over it for hours.
The meal was easy enough to make: Cut a 3-pound pork shoulder into large chunks, and place them into a hot greased pot. Once the meat is browned on all sides, add the spice mixture of chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, chopped yellow onion, and 1 chopped garlic clove. Add about 15 mL chicken stock. When it reaches boiling point, bring down to a simmer for 2 ½ hours before transferring to a casserole dish, and placing it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the meat is browned. While the meat is browning, combine corn, half of an avocado, ¼ cup cherry tomatoes, and 1 cup black beans. Add parsley for freshness. Add browned meat to veggie mixture.
Now, all seemed to be going well, as it should with a recipe that is not overly complex. But, it was when I took the meat out of the oven, about halfway through the baking process, that things took a turn for the worse.
I was just minding my own business, using two forks in opposite pulling motions to shred the bone-tender meat, when all of a sudden, the baking dish clattered to the ground, the hot meat and juices plopping onto my just-cleaned kitchen floor.
Aghast and slightly frustrated at the audacity of the meal to leap from the countertop onto the ground, a few curses flew through the air before I swiftly bent down and grabbed the chunks of searing hot pork with my bare hands, quickly placing them back in their supposed safe haven casserole dish.
From there, it was a mere 15 minutes before I removed the shredded pork from the oven, and added it to the raw vegetables and beans, creating a rich carnita salad that I am happy to have for lunch for probably the next week.
Should you try to make this recipe yourself, the one piece of advice I can give you is to not drop it on the floor, especially a just cleaned one.
To view the recipe for pork carnitas, click here