Carnitas with chile and sweet potatoes
Carnitas are shredded pieces of tender roast pork used as a filling for burritos.
Here are a couple recipes for a really tasty meal – tender, slow-cooked pork carnitas in a sauce of sweet potatoes and spicy chiles. On the side, a simple variation on my favorite roasted Brussels sprouts, cooked with spicy chorizo to coat the sprouts in utter deliciousness.
The pork has a long cook time, but reheats beautifully. So, either prepare the pork a day ahead of time or plan it for a day you’ll be around to babysit the oven.
Carnitas with Chile and Sweet Potatoes
1 6-7 lb. pork shoulder, trimmed of most excess exterior fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 serrano pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
1 large sweet potato (yam), cooked until tender, skin removed, lightly mashed*
4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
Ground cayenne pepper
*To prepare the sweet potato: Prick the exterior several times with a fork, then bake in a 375 degrees F. oven for about 60-75 minutes, until quite tender. Cut the potato in half and scoop out the tender interior. Use a fork to lightly mash the potato.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Generously season the pork with salt. Heat olive oil over medium/medium-high heat in a large dutch oven pan or oven-safe pot. Place the pork shoulder in the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Remove the roast from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and peppers to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sweet potato, chicken broth, and honey. Return the pork shoulder to the pan, the cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook on the middle oven rack for about 3.5 – 4 hours.
After 3.5 – 4 hours, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Once the pork is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and use a fork or your fingers to pull apart the meat, which should be incredibly tender. (I prefer the use my fingers, since it’s easier to remove and discard any bits of fat.)
Allow the sauce to rest while you’re pulling the meat. As it rests, the excess fat should rise to the surface. Use a spoon to skim and discard the excess fat. Then, using a blender, food processor, or immersion blend, purée the sauce until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes over medium heat, until about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of nicely thickened sauce remains.Stir frequently to prevent burning. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and cayenne pepper, if desired.
Toss the meat with the sauce.
To reheat the meat and develop some nice caramelized bits, heat the sauced meat under a hot broiler for a few minutes until the top begins to turn a golden brown.
Serve in warm tortillas.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo
4 cups brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
4 ounces spicy Spanish chorizo, quartered and sliced
1/4 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a baking dish. Cook for 40-45 minutes, tossing every 10-15 minutes to coat the Brussels sprouts with the delicious oil, which will render from the chorizo. Season with salt, to taste.
Related post: Sweet and Spicy Pork Over Mashed Sweet Potatoes
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