RECIPE REDUX: PORK CARNITAS

We love Tampa. We really do. But after living in Austin, Texas, where Mexican cuisine reigns supreme, we find ourselves missing the hundred-year old family recipes and authentic restaurants that dot the city. Sure, Tampa has its share of amazingly delicious Mexican joints (if you know where to look), but we find that this Carnitas recipe takes us right back to those authentic meals in Austin.

Carnitas de Puerco

3 lbs pork butt, trimmed of excess fat
1 large onion, quartered
3 large bay leaves
2 tablespoons ground ancho chiles
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped, plus a couple of teaspoons of the adobo sauce
4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2-3 quarts chicken stock
canola oil, or even better, lard
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the pork butt well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil (or lard) in a large pot over medium heat on the stove top. Brown the pork butt well on all sides in the oil. Remove the pork butt from the pan, discard excess oil, and add the garlic and onions. Sautee the garlic and onion for 3-4 minutes, until softened, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Place the pork back in the pan, and then add the chiles, cumin, coriander, and bay leaves. Add enough chicken stock to cover the pork (the quantity will vary by size and shape of the pork and your pot). Bring the stock to a simmer and place in a 200 degree oven, for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until the pork starts to fall apart when prodded with a spoon. Remove the pork from the pot, and shred or chop the meat into 3 inch chunks. In another pan, heat some more oil or lard, and working in batches, fry the shredded pork until crisp but still tender and juicy.

Serve with tortillas, some fresh lime, onions, cilantro, homemade guacamole, and maybe some thinly sliced radishes.