Sunday, March 24, 2013

carnitas and tortilla

I am back in New England and back among the living today.  I flew home from Los Angeles on Tuesday, recuperated on Wednesday, graded papers at a hellish pace on Thursday and Friday, and then, on Friday night, I set about destroying my entire Saturday in some sort rebellion against the questionable decisions I made over the fifteen years that led me to that point, a point which was swollen with fears about permanent imbecility, romantic inadequacy, professional ineptitude, and the unshakeable feeling that my life had no purpose.  I was stressed out, pissed off, and I wanted revenge.  But you cannot revenge time.  Around 6 PM I did manage to braise some pork.    



We are fortunate that days are only twenty-four hours long.  Sure, there are those blissful days that, would we could, we would double or triple in length, but imagine how brutal it would be if each day were forty-eight, or even worse, seventy-two hours long.  The hard days would be hell.  If we had a surplus of time, it's quite possible that the good times would lose value and become okay times, whereas the bad times would quite possibly just become really bad.  



If you have never cleaned a pork shoulder on a bad hangover before and you are weak of stomach, my suggestion would be to wait.  Trimming the fat from a 5 lb. hunk of meat is best done in the morning when you are feeling pert and fresh.  In fact, there is something absolutely stunning about handling a hunk of cold, pink muscle when you are still adjusting to the fact that you have passed through sleep and entered another day of existence.  There is a small handful of minutes each morning that abut wakefulness and during which our thoughts about the world are still dragging themselves out of bed.  It is startling and even titillating to grasp a cold log of pork while you are still in that nether world.  If nothing else, you will know that you are alive and the pork is not.  For those of us who want to be aware of what it means to eat meat, I recommend butchering in the morning.  



It is not difficult to make carnitas, but it does take time.  I use this recipe.  It's a good recipe.  When it tells you to get your pan screaming hot, you should listen.  Get your hunks of pork really crispy before you add the water and deglaze the pan.  You might also want to get some paper towels, or for the environmentally conscious cook, a rag.  When browning the pork there will be a fine spray of fat.  It will be as if you standing near Niagara Falls, but instead of mists of water, there will be mists of pig fat.  Speaking of pig fat, be sure to save the excess fat you trim.  You can render it in the oven and use it later.  It will melt and then, when it cools, it will turn into opaque, white lard.  


     
When you periodically check your braising carnitas, you should be sure to scrape the crusty brown stuff that will form on the sides of your pan.  Do this with a wooden spoon. That crusty brown stuff is full of flavor.  



While my carnitas were finishing, I made eight tortillas.  It was almost 10 PM.  I ate three of them and went to bed.  I woke up around midnight, ate another one, and went back to bed again.  

1 comment:

neil hampton said...

I craved Enchiladas, but during my second bout of ordering them from a nearby restaurant, I noticed they were just stuck into a microwave. Microwaved cheese enchiladas, rich and beans, chips and a drink. Seven dollars. One of Jono's friends described McDonalds as being made from cockroaches. I've found that all my fast food loves are not the same anymore in 2013 and I think food quality has gone down, which is too bad. My roomate and I have been boiling crab legs serving them with rice, and eating a lot of burgers. I am on the verge of having to live in some hotel again, and might end up without a kitchen and back to restaurants, which I for the most part don't like it seems.... maybe restaurants used to be better a long time ago....