Wednesday, June 15, 2011

a reason to sleep on the floor

I woke up on the floor this morning, under the dining room table. Don't worry, I was quite comfortable. The reason? I was making carnitas.

Start with an impossibly large pork shoulder (ten lbs. should do) and an even more impossibly large cast iron lidded vessel. (I stole mine from a rich person, between my legs and down some stairs. Try that!) Salt the "pork"out of it. It is best to start at room temp, but the huge shoulder I had was standing on it's last arm, so-to-speak, since it had been in my refrigerator thawing [read: forgotten about] for well over a week. Start at 1am. For the first hour, bake it with the fattiest side down at a nice high temperature like 450. After the hour is over you will begin to smell pork. If you don't smell pork, turn on the oven and start over, silly! If you were successful, turn your shoulder over and turn down the oven. Keep that oinker covered! Bake at 300 for 5 or 6 hours, or until someone wakes you up, or you start having back spasms from sleeping on the floor. The most important thing, beyond proper salting, is to sleep on the floor next to the oven. This is how I imagine everyone from my natal food legacy did it and so should I, and so should you. If something smells burn-y or the room fills with smoke or the house catches on fire, you have overslept. Run for your life. Otherwise, you have made carnitas. To check, poke a fork at your pork shoulder, which should shred easily. When you take your first poke and realize that you have "pulled" your pork, keep going. Don't slice or dice or cut. Pull!

Get some friends together and eat your carnitas with hands and mouths and teeth. Or, for bonus points, fill a warm corn tortilla with queso, crema, carnitas and pico de gallo, squeeze a lime over, and you will have a lovely carnitas taco. Carnitas are also perfect next to eggs (like bacon), on a sandwich (like bacon) or in pasta dishes (like bacon). If you intend to enjoy this great and versatile food with barbecue sauce, omit the step where you sleep on the floor.

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