It’s my better half’s birthday and I want to make him delectable carnitas this Sunday (6/22). But since I don’t eat meat, I really don’t know how to cook it. Carnitas somehow seemed easy since I can just stick it in a dutch oven and simmer for a couple hours… until I discovered the key to the best is to stew it in freshly rendered lard. Aack! This is starting to feel like advanced meat cooking…
Am I crazy? I am not necessarily averse to meat handling (well, at least for special occasions! I am admittedly a little squeamish normally), but the biggest problem is how clueless I am about meat cooking (I am pretty darn good for all non-meat cooking, or, uh, most, IMHO). I am up for a challenge though!
1. Should I just forget about simmering in freshly rendered lard, and go the healthier route of simmered in water (with orange rind and spices)?
2. How much pork shoulder do I need? Do I need to direct the butcher to do anything with the pork shoulder (e.g., trim it or cut it up or something)? Remember, I am clueless. I figure I should do the minimum sized recipe, since it is just his one dinner and his leftovers (maybe enough for 3+ servings). Am I supposed to rinse and dry pork before cooking? Even if it’s happy feel good pork?
3. If I do go the lardo route, where the heck do I get a nice hunk of pork fat to render? I would prefer to use some sort of local/organic/feel good pork shoulder and fat too, but maybe that is ridiculous for fat rendering. And how much fat is enough to simmer the shoulder in? How do I dispose of the fat (just pour into a can and put in the trash)?
4. I was hoping to find the Rick Bayless recipe, but could only find one that feeds 20 people: (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...). Other recipe suggestions? Is Bayless the way to go?
5. How the heck do I know when it’s done without tasting it?! (Poses a problem for seasoning too…). Is there some sort of time per pound formula that I can hope works out for me? Or do I just wait until it looks a certain way? How should it look?
6. Any other tips? I could go on and on with questions.
Here is my tentative menu, unless the advice is to scrap-it-stupid, and do something easier!
-Carnitas (recipe tbd)
-Rancho Gordo pinto beans (maybe attempting some of them lard-refried)
-Homemade tortillas (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/391014)
-Homemade guacamole and salsa
-Queso fresco (suggestions for other nice Mexican cheese for this?)
-Veg fajitas (I need to eat something!)
-dessert of either/both roasted banana ice cream (http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/jour...) with chocolate shavings/syrup and/or burnt caramel ice cream (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives... or http://www.chowhound.com/topics/335869)
Thanks for any and all advice!