pork

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Remember back in February when I visited one of my favorite Missouri wineries? No worries if you don’t, here’s a flashback to that wino field trip. While I was on that trip, if you will walk down memory lane with me, I picked up this little beauty:

IMG_2159

When I tasted this guy and his spicy sweetness, I knew I needed to cook something with him. I thought about it for awhile, ultimately going back and forth between carnitas or chicken wings. Obviously I chose the carnitas, but I still think chicken wings would be really good too. Unfortunately, the mead is gone so another field trip may be in order…

Many of the existing carnitas recipes I ran across were crock-pot carnitas. I’ve made crock-pot carnitas before, and they were fine, but for this recipe I decided to use my Dutch oven. It’s a lovely 8 qt. Martha Stewart in bright orange that coordinates nicely with my vintage LeCreuset stuff, and I use it a ton.

Making carnitas can be a little time-consuming, but the finished product is well worth it. In fact, the finished product is so tasty (not to toot my own horn, but TOOT!) it may be gone in a shorter time than it took you to make them. That’s what happened at my house. I only managed to get ONE photo before they were descended upon by my teens…

Honey Orange Chipotle Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • pork shoulder roast (the one I used was about 5 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 large onion, cut into big chunks (eighths)
  • 1 1/2 tsp regular Adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • one navel orange
  • 1 bottle Windy Wine Company Chipotle Mead

Instructions:

  1. Adjust your oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300F.
  2. All your ingredients will go into the Dutch oven. I like to leave any fat on the roast & trim it off after cooking to add moisture and flavor. Even the orange peels will cook with the roast & impart their citrus notes. Pour the mead over top of all the ingredients.
  3. On the stovetop, bring Dutch oven to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered. Once a simmer is reached, cover the pot & transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 2-3 hours until the meat is falling apart.
  4. Allow to cool several hours, or ideally, overnight.
  5. Once cooled, you can remove the meat from the pot and begin to separate it, removing the fat & any bones or connective tissue (a shoulder will have 1 small bone). I like to do this with my hands, so I can feel the fat, meat, connective tissue etc easily.
  6. While you are separating the meat, remove the onions, and orange halves from the pot, leaving only cooking liquid behind. Reduce this liquid over high heat until thick and syrupy. It will take about 20 mins for the liquid to reduce.
  7. Tear the meat into bite-size pieces (think pulled pork) and spread evenly on a baking sheet covered with foil.
  8. Pour 4-5 ladles of reduced cooking liquid over the meat.
  9. Bake in a 300F oven for about 15 mins or until browned and a little crispy on the edges. Move meat around and flip during cooking as needed, usually every 3-5 mins.
  10. Serve on warm corn tortillas, with desired accoutrements such as avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions.

Headcheese Assembly

The end of last week I began to assemble my headcheese. First, I scooped the creamy white fat off the top of my stock. Surprisingly there was close to 2C of it! Below the fat, the stock was thick and gelatinous. I put it on the stove to liquefy and reduce and began chopping my meat. The meat was much easier to chop when it was cold. I put about a handful and a half of chopped meat into a foil mini loaf pan (filled it about 2/3). I had the perfect amount of meat to fill 10 mini loaf pans. It took about half an hour for the stock to reduce once it came to a boil (about 45 mins from the time I put it on the stove). I added about 2 ladles of stock to each of the loaf pans. You can fill the pans as close to the top as you feel comfortable. Once all the loaf pans were full I wrapped them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill. After 4-5 hours the headcheese had started to solidify, but I would give it 10-12 hours before you try to unmold it.

Headcheese Progress

Today I finally found a pot big enough for my hog’s head. It’s 33 qts. I coarsely chopped 2 large white onions, a pound of carrots (unpeeled, ends cut off), a head of celery (leaves left on), & peeled and smashed about 10 cloves of garlic. When I took the head his vacuum-packaging I gave him a quick rinse in the sink and shaved his scruff with a paring knife (fun). So now the head is simmering away in the pot with the veg, enough water to cover and a few dashes of Kosher salt. I don’t know if it was necessary but about halfway through the cook time (it will be about 6 hours in total), I flipped the head over, because I was concerned whether the snout was getting fully cooked (it was sticking out of the water a smidge).


Update:

IMG_2049

Here’s the fully-picked clean skull. Also, I learned that a dough hook can double as a meat hook in a pinch (because who has a meat hook laying around the house anyway?).

Currently, I have a container of chopped-up usable head-meat ready to go in my fridge. The broth has been put through a strainer & cheesecloth¬†and is way more gelatinous than I had anticipated. Hoping to get everything assembled and working in loaf pans by the end of the day…

“There’s a pig’s head in my car…”

So today I ventured out to Paradise Locker Meats to pick up a pig’s head. The plan is to try to make some headcheese. You guys should know that this a whole new thing for me. I didn’t grow up with this kind of stuff, I am a suburban girl. Having said that, charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school. I’ve made aspics & terrines, so hopefully I will be able to successfully pull this off.
For now, my new porcine friend is in the fridge, defrosting. Probably for a few days. Also, something a bit disturbing: he has a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow.