Thanks for the all the suggestions on how to make carnitas like the crispy/carmelized on the outside, succulent and juicy yumminess I had while on tour in Texas. I decided to combine a few ideas and see what happened. I need a bit of advice on roasting pork...
Let me start by saying that my oven is sort of broken. It's gas and it comes on, but if you don't leave it propped open, it won't stay on. When the flame cuts out to maintain the temp, it refuses to re-light and makes a whiny noise and fills the room with gas. Doesn't make it easy to roast meat at 250....so glad we're moving.
I was at my grocery store and they had this HUGE pork loin on sale so I bought it and cut it into three good sized roasts. Was using loin instead of shoulder my first mistake?
I cut the first pork roast into four big chunks and brined it in light salt and garlic and cumin and peppercorn and orange juice then dried off and sprinkled the outside with a bit of salt, fresh pepper and cumin. I melted some lard in a roasting pan and put it in my oven with plans to roast on 250 for several hours. But how do I make sure the oven is 250 when I have to put a small saucepan in it to make sure it stays open and on? I think I ended up with the oven set for 350 (propped open and warming up my cold kitchen - who knows what the actual temp was) and it roasted for about four hours.
The flavor: fantastic. Carmelization: beautiful. Yummy burnt bottoms: could eat my weight in them. Inside: tasty but dry.
Dry is a theme for me with pork.
Last night I took another of the pork loin roasts and brined with salt, garlic, rosemary, peppercorn and a bay leaf. Before putting it in the brine, though, I cut big, deep slits in the meat. After the brine I dried and poked garlic cloves and rosemary down into the slits, covered with a bit of salt (very light), pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. Then roasting in the crappy oven. Again, propped open and I let it hover around 350 and roasted for about two hours. I checked the temp and it wasn't quite 160 and the outside wasn't as brown as I'd like so I cranked it up to 450 for about 15 minutes and then took it out to rest.
I wanted a little more sweet so I cooked up some rosemary and maple syrup and created a coating on the roast. Flavor: great. But again - just too dry on the inside.
So, crappy oven? Wrong cut (specifically for the carnitas)? Cooking too long or wrong or something?