A couple of days ago I wrote about slow-roasted pork shoulder. Pork’s great but often done down as being a little like turkey – too dry, too bland, too chewy. I think that pork, done right, ranks above chicken and possibly even beef in the meat leagues.
Pork, in fact, brings us the single best leftovers meal I know of. Carnitas is a Mexican dish, literally meaning “little meats”. In Mexican food culture, carnitas is just pork roasted so slowly that the collagen breaks down entirely so that the meat can be shredded by hand. This usually takes about 18 hours so isn’t really practical for those of us who have friends and want to keep them. I prefer to take the 5 hour pork linked above and adapt it from that.
Mexican food is delicious – all fresh, simple, powerful flavours, and I wanted to retain those characteristics but I’ve had bad experiences of Mexican restaurants where they feed you a snack for £8 so I wanted my carnitas bulky as well as flavoursome. I went for refried beans even though they look like sick in a can, but literally any kind of bean or pulse will do the job.
The first time I ate this I actually made it with my dad’s pork, not mine, and though it was delicious I do think that the lime and coriander I use when I roast pork enhances the Mexican flavours of the carnitas. I guess it’s probably possible to cook carnitas in a calm, measured way but I like to get everything searingly hot and then flap about like a Tasered goose.
Leftover pork carnitas wrap
- Left over slow-roasted pork
- One whole birds-eye or stronger chilli
- Smoked paprika
- A pinch each of cinnamon and cumin.
- Red pepper
- Grated cheddar or similar
- Red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- Juice from one lemon
Right-o, start out by making the red onion a little less abrasive and, vitally, smelly. Soak the slices of red onion in lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave in their bowl until you’re ready to use them.
Next up, shred the pork with two forks (and if necessary a steak knife. Just makes sure the pieces are thin strands of meat). Lick your fingers and give yourself a little cook’s treat of the most succulent bits before seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Chop the chilli very finely. Get a good glug of oil heated over a medium-high heat and start the meat really sizzling in the pan. Keep stirring all the time whilst adding the very finely chopped chilli, a teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a teaspoon each of powdered cinnamon and cumin.
At this point I usually start dribbling so keep a tea towel nearby. The smell of cumin, cinnamon, chilli, paprika and the slowly caramelising and crisping pork is pretty much irresistible. Roughly chop the lettuce and red pepper and get the tortillas out of their pack and ready to be loaded up. Once all the “little meats” are a deep, dark brown on the outside, serve straight away. Waste no time, not that you’ll want to.
This is great with a cold, light beer. A Corona or something along those lines would be perfect. Also good with a G&T.