Pork Carnitas In Adobo Sauce.
I often find myself dreaming of Mexico, it’s been a while now since our last trip and the absence of certain things start becoming more apparent .
It’s funny but when you live away you appreciate every little thing a bit more, like waking up to a blue sky, the smell of charred poblano peppers being prepped in my Mum’s kitchen, those warm tortillas freshly made and brought back home from the tortilleria, you miss the familiarity of the streets where you grew up, the colourful colonial style buildings, the street vendors making their livelihoods and places where you used to hang around with friends when you were younger, even the smell of certain things bring back so many memories.
I say all this because what I cook its very closely connected to how I feel and my memories of the place where I grew up, but these days I have found a way to put all those feelings to good use and they motivate every recipe that I create.
When I was little my Mum used to make a dish of shredded beef meat that was slowly stewed until it was tender and easy to shred and she used to add a rich pasilla sauce, this reminded me of all those meat dishes of slowly cooked meat covered in a sauce made with dried Mexican chilies which are known as “carne adobada” , the adobo is made with a variety of dried chillies, onion and garlic which form a rich paste , this combined with the meat and It’s juices creates a beautiful bright red or sometimes a bit darker thick sauce packed with flavour, I can almost taste it just thinking about about it.
The essence of the adobo is found in this recipe, where I combine the goodness of pork “carnitas” translated into English as “small cuts of meat,” covered in a homemade adobo sauce with ancho chili, pasilla, black garlic and fresh orange juice mainly.
I start by cooking the carnitas slowly with a bit of their fat that creates beautiful moist and tender carnitas, but the main thing is that last crisp up of the tasty adobo coating at a higher temperature, in order to make the most perfect carnitas crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Just imagine a taco made of these carnitas covered in all the flavour of the adobo, simply garnished with a bit of finely chopped red onion, fresh cilantro and that very important lime juice , let me just tell you that that first bite is pure delight.
1.8 kg Pork shoulder , ( deboned).
3 ancho chilies.
2 pasilla chilies.
1 tsp rapeseed oil.
1tbsp tamari sauce.
5 black garlic cloves.
2 oranges (juice and zest of only 1 orange).
1 tbsp of olive oil.
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar.
1/3 cup of brown soft sugar.
2 tsp black peppercorns.
1 bunch of coriander.
2 bay leafs.
Red onion, (finely chopped).
Preheat oven at 160 C
Begin by prepping your meat make sure to get a nice piece of pork shoulder from the butchers , you can ask your butcher to cut the piece for you into chunks to make the carnitas or do this yourself, make sure to keep some of the fat as is used for the cooking.
Tip: If you get a piece of pork with the rind on please don’t discard it and simply roast it with a bit of maldon salt at 200C on a separate baking tray until golden and crunchy, you will get delicious pork “chicharron” or “scratchings” to serve alongside your carnitas.
Reserve you meat in the fridge while your prepare the adobo.
For the adobo start by lightly frying your dried chillies without stems in a bit of oil, be careful not to burn your chilies but this step brings all their flavour out.
Once your chillies are lightly fried place them on your blender and add the tamari sauce, black garlic cloves, oranges (juice and zest), olive oil, vinegar, brown sugar, whole black peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Blend really smooth until you get a dark red colour sauce “adobo”.
Grab a big baking dish and place all the pork chunks, I season the meat with a bit of maldon salt and then pour the adobo on top, add bay leafs and half of the coriander roughly chopped scattered around. Finally place some of the fat pieces on top and leave them big enough to make sure they are easy to remove once your carnitas are cooked, cover your baking dish with plenty of tin foil tightly wrapped, and bake at 160C for two hours.
After two hours get your carnitas out of the oven, remove the foil and fat pieces. Turn your oven on a higher temperature at 200 C, once is hot enough place the carnitas back in the oven for another 30 minutes or less depending on your oven to crisp up the outside of your meat.
Once they are lovely and crisp serve on a pretty platter with finely chopped coriander on top , warm tortillas on the side, finely chopped red onion and the very important limes, enjoy!