Today is Remembrance Day but I won’t be thinking of World War I or II, or of service personnel lost and still serving. I will be thinking of my Dad who died nine years ago. He wasn’t really into food, mainly because he’d lost his sense of smell and therefore couldn’t taste much. But he still loved anything with a buzz: Thai curries and Mexican food were his favourites because heat and spice defeated his neurons. We used to go to a pub in Cambridgeshire that served the most enormous burritos and, whereas in most instances he had a small appetite, he would happily devour two of them whilst we looked on in awe. Six months after he died, on what would have been his 60th birthday, we met there to raise a glass to him and reminisce. When I discovered this recipe last week it made me smile to imagine making it for him, knowing he would have loved the combination of braised meat served with guacamole and tortillas. This recipe, this post and this day are for him. Yup, that just made me cry.
Carnitas (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
For a good two portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic cloves, 2
ground cumin, a teaspoon
salt and pepper
pork shoulder or belly, 700g
freshly squeezed orange juice, ¼ cup/60ml (about half a navel orange-worth)
soft tortillas, 4
some good guacamole, about 100-150g
soured cream, about 100ml
pickled jalapeños, to serve (optional)
1. Cube the pork (pieces about 2.5cm big are about right), peel and crush the garlic cloves and squeeze the juice of one lime and, if necessary, the orange too.
2. Put the pork, garlic, orange and lime juices, ground cumin and a pinch of good salt into a heavy casserole dish or large saucepan.
3. Add enough water to just cover the meat, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave for an hour. Don’t touch it or stir it or anything!
4. After an hour a lot of the liquid will have evaporated and you now want to get rid of the rest. This will take about forty minutes. Turn up the heat so that you can hear a sizzle and then start turning the meat occasionally and stirring the base of the pan every so often to lift up the tasty bits that get stuck to the bottom. Keep doing this until all the water has evaporated and then, at the end, turn the meat in its own fat just enough for every bit to be brown and sticky all over.
5. Serve with warmed tortillas, soured cream, guacamole, lime quarters to squeeze over the top, pickled jalapeños and some of this yummy red cabbage number. Oh and a few margaritas goes rather well with them too. My Dad would certainly approve of those…