Saturday, November 19, 2011


It has been reported to me, dear readers, that I'm a bona fide curmudgeon.  I am thereby bound to spend my life alone, a cantankerous, bad-tempered man braising his curmudgeonly pork.  A licensed therapist perused what I thought were the stately and often hilarious accounts of lentil soup and hot dogs, McDonald's Farm, A Conversation with Obama and his kids, basically all the sundry posts here at Oilchanges, and declared me a big fat curmudgeon.  How did that make me feel?  Defensive.  To the messenger of the news I retorted: "I will accept curmudgeonly but not curmudgeon."  I stand by that statement.  Have you ever been around me?  I can definitely be curmudgeonly.  Make no bones about it, this anti-food blog food blogger can demonstrate sweeping arias of curmudgeonliness at the drop of a Fruit Loop or a hat.  He can also braise the hell out of pork butt.

After about two hours of braising, the carnitas are coming along splendidly. One of the most absolutely annoying things about being a cantankerous blogger is the poor quality of indoor lighting.  I often do not publish posts about dinner because I live in dastardly New England where half of the year we are denied sun on more than half of the days.  I take one photograph of my soup under a 60 watt G.E. bulb and become monstrously grumpy, pounding my fist onto the table and stomping around the dining room.  I am only happy when there is natural sunlight on my face, and when there is no sun, watch out!  I become the Mount Everest of surliness and bad temper.  I once threw a taco at someone for winking at me.  Had it been a sunny day, however, I would have been most genial, probably offering up extensive, full-body massages and undying loyalty.  Oh well.  Being a curmudgeon sucks.  I am planning on socializing in public this evening, and I expect to jab my sharp elbow unnecessarily into many kidneys.  I'm a real shit head.  Look at this beautiful meat!

That, my dears, is going to become pork tacos tomorrow afternoon.  The genius of reupholstering is coming down to help me out with those chairs (from the previous post), and so I ran errands all afternoon, hunting down foam padding, upholstery thread, cinnamon sticks, and 4 lbs. of pork shoulder (AKA butt) with which I plan to say "thank you."  Carnitas will make your kitchen smell like Christmas, which to me, of course, smells like Hell.  

This is how you make carnitas:

1) Get yourself a big hunk of pork shoulder (about four or five pounds of it).  Cut that pork shoulder into big chunks, about 5" chunks.  Don't worry about perfection, just cut the pork into big chunks.  They will not all be the same size.  It doesn't really matter.

2) In a big oven-safe pot (iron pots are the best), pour in about 2 TBS of oil, and crank up the heat.  If you cannot brown all the chunks at once, brown them in stages.  You want to really caramelize the heck out of the pork, getting good crispy color on it.

3) Once all the pork chunks are browned, remove them and deglaze the pot by pouring about half a cup (or more) of water in it.  Scrape up all the good brown bits, then return the pork to the pot along with enough water to almost cover the pork.  

4) Add two bay leaves, three cloves of garlic (sliced thinly), one cinnamon stick, one teaspoon of chili powder, another teaspoon of a different kind of chili powder*, some cracked black pepper, and about a quarter teaspoon of ground cumin.  

5) Pop this baby into a three hundred and fifty (350) degree oven, no lid, and braise for 3.5 hours, turning the chunks of pork periodically (about every half hour), and adding more water as needed.  

Finally) shred the pork and cook it in another pan until it gets a bit crispy.  Then, stuff tacos.  

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