Traditional Carnitas

Every time I go to Mexican restaurants here in France, I regret to find that it doesn't even comes close to the real deal. Mexican street food is really very unique in the Mexican culture and is not easily found in other countries.

Each country seems to adjust the recipes and ingredients to their own convenience and food habits.

Those who have been traveling in Mexico know what I'm talking about and probably agree with me that it's a whole different game play when it comes to the local ingredients, spices and cooking methods

Tacos carnitas is the second most popular tacos in Mexico, right behind the tacos el pastor. Carnitas, literally meaning "little meats", they are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot, which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit.

The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat. Carnitas is a specialty from the state of Michoacán. The first traces of carnitas are found 500 years ago during the time of the conquista of Hernan Cortez.

Unfortunately, this emblematic dish is linked to the fall of the Aztec empire and the fall of the medieval town of Tenochtitlan.

Hernán Cortés described this town in a letter to Charles Quint as "the most beautiful city in the world, a new Venice". Cuauhtemoc, a humiliated emperor, is deposed and tortured: his feet are dipped in boiling oil to reveal where the gold is.

He will not say anything.

It was at this time that the Spanish conquistadors introduced pork in mexica and that the conquistador and his companions would have elaborated and eaten the first tacos of carnitas.

The only way to get a little closer to the real deal is to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.

Ingredients: 500gr shoulder, 500gr loin, 500gr butt or leg, 500gr tripe, 500gr kidneys, 500gr rind, 1 tbsp coarse sea salt, 2.5kg lard.

The procedure is quite easy, it is more a question of time. You can choose any cut of pork meat you prefer but it is important to keep it in big pieces. Heat up the oil or lard to 160°C (320°F) and fry the meat until it starts to colorize on the outside (about 15 to ) 20mn

Then kill the heat and let cool down to 90°C (194°F) At this point you can decide if you want to add an orange and spices but I prefer to add only salt to preserve the flavors of the different cuts of meats.

Set the heat on the lowest point and let simmer for 3 to 4 hours (depending the quantity and quality of the meat)

Let the meat drain and rest on a rack for 10mn. Chop the meats against the grain in small bits and your ready to serve your tacos with some pressed lime, chopped onions an cilantro.

For more details and how to make tacos and salsa verde: watch the video below.

Bon Appétit” and see you soon!


© 2018 Wessel Woortman

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