5 Days 5 Lunches: Slow Cooked Carnitas

Carnitas

5 Days 5 Lunches is back with a Mexican inspired dish this week. Friends and Farms gave us Pork Butt this week in our basket. I needed no other incentive to make carnitas. It’s one of my favorite things to eat/make. I first learned about carnitas, from sad to say…Chipotle! Globalization people! Teaching Iranian American kids about pork! So anyways I had pulled pork before growing up from barbecue shacks. But I had never experienced it in a burrito or taco. Suffice it to say, I was over the moon with how good it tasted to me.

This is part of my ongoing series that I do once a week to help you get through the work week with a healthy meal. I like to suggest a recipe that you can cook on a Sunday and pack it for your lunch all week. This is a great way to save money and to eat well.

In Persian cuisine there is a similar dish that is one of my favorites. It is a slow cooked lamb/beef dish called Ahb Goosht (literally  it means meat water, I know we are wordsmiths we Farsi speakers). But my dad would always make this and he would use lamb shoulder and slow cook it for hours. Once it was cooked, we would eat it with various flat breads. Still one of my favorite winter dishes.

So back to carnitas, it’s a pork shoulder, typically slow cooked for hours and hours. I wanted to attempt it on the grill using my low and slow method. I thought that the smokey flavors of the grill would really bring an added element to the dish. I finished it on the stove though, for two reasons. One, as you will soon find out, maintaining an optimal temperature on a charcoal grill is not that easy after hour six. And two, finishing it on the stove actually allows you to enhance the flavor even more.

I am serving it this week with some slow cooked black beans, grilled corn, roasted onions & bell peppers, fresh tomato & corn salsa, and (not pictured because I’m adding it freshly every day) sliced avocado.

It’s not pictured because the avocado won’t keep if I cut it on Sunday, so I will be cutting it each morning and adding it to the lunch then. You can use your imaginations!

An important note for the black beans. I do not use canned beans. Why? Because of the BPA in the liner of canned goods. BPA leads to all sorts of health complications later on down the road. Convenience is not worth it to me. But I won’t judge you if it is to you. I buy mine from a local producer and I soak them over night to make sure they cook relatively quickly.

Recipe

For the Carnita

5lb Pork Shoulder

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1/4 Cup Lime Juice

2 Tbsp.  Garlic Powder

1 Tsp.  Chilli Powder

1 Tbsp. Parsley Flakes

2 Tbsp. Cumin

1 Tbsp. Salt

1/2 Tbsp. Pepper

2 Tbsp. Lime Juice

2 Tbsp. Water

For the Veggies

3 Ears of Corn (husks on, remove after grilling)

2 Bell Peppers

2 Onions  (Sliced)

First, marinate your pork. Do this by mixing together all the other carnitas ingredients (except the broth and 1/4 cup lime juice) and then adding the pork. I would recommend marinating overnight if you can. I didn’t have the time to do so, so I did it for a few hours.

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Fire the up the grill. Set it up for two heating zones like I’ve shown in the past.

Cook your corn, tomatoes, garlic, and onions first. I like grilling the onions and garlic using a baking sheet, it allows them to pick up some nice flavors without getting everywhere. Remove them from the grill, and aside for your salsa.

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Now that your grill is nice and hot, place your pork shoulder on the grill, and slow cook for 8 hours. I used wet mesquite wood chips along with my coal. You are probably going to have to add more coal or wood to your grill at the 4 hour mark. The grill heat will start to fizzle out. 14698210981_ffdd07349d_b

Around hour six of cooking the shoulder, your fire should be completely gone. Transfer it to a large pot, and add the chicken broth and lime juice to the pork. Now simmer the pork for another 2 hours. This will allow the pork to cook completely through and on top of that you will be able to enhance the juiciness of the pork even more.

 

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Dice up the bell pepper and cook it with some oil on a frying pan with the grilled onions. Don’t overcook the peppers, you don’t want them to be soggy. Just cook them long enough for the color to really pop and then remove them from the heat.

Cut down on the ears of corn so you can remove the kernels.

Once your pork is all ready, pull it apart and plate!

For the Black Beans

4 or 5 Cups  Dry Black Beans

6 Cups  Chicken Broth (Mine is homemade, you can use store bought also)

4 Cups Water

1/4 Cup Lime Juice

2 Tbsp.  Garlic Powder

2 Cloves  Garlic (Roasted)

2 Tbsp.  Cumin

2 Tbsp.  Salt

1 Tbsp.  Cilantro

Soak your black beans. This I would definitely recommend soaking overnight. Make sure the bowl you pour them into with the water is big enough so the beans can expand.

Once your beans are fully soaked, pour out the purple water and pour them in a large pot. Make sure the pot is big, the beans will take longer to cook if the pot is too small. Now add your chicken broth and water. Put the lid on the pot, and cook it on a low heat. Stir intermittently. Once the beans have started to soften, add your cumin, lime juice, garlic cloves & powder, salt, and cilantro. Keep cooking it on a low heat for a few hours, I’d say they should be done around 3 to 4 hours. Taste your dish to see if it has enough of the seasoning you are looking for.

For the Salsa

1 Grilled Tomato

6 Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

1/4 Cup Diced Onion

1/8 Cup Cilantro

1/8 Cup Lime Juice

1 Tbsp. Salt

1 Tsp.  Chilli Powder

1 Tbsp.  Cumin

2 Cloves  Garlic (Roasted)

1 Ear of Grilled Corn (husks on, remove after grilling)

As your pork is cooking, you can tend to the beans and start your salsa. Put your tomatoes, corn, onions, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, chilli powder, and cumin into a food processor. You should have a nice smooth salsa. Since this is for a lunch for 5 days I don’t want a chunky salsa. But you surely can have one if that is your preference. Just don’t process it as much.

 

 

 

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