Monday, September 12, 2011

Pork Carnitas and Sweet Corn Tomalito

I made carnitas last weekend during the make-room-for-beef-in-my-freezer frenzy. This huge chunk of pork shoulder was taking up way too much room, so it had to be eaten.

I got a little over enthusiastic in the frenzy and ended up with a bit too much defrosted meat. Is it normal to be cooking steak frites and carnitas simultaneously? No. Is that what I did on Sunday evening? Yes. 

Thank goodness carnitas saves excellently. If you make more carnitas than you intend to eat that day, do not broil all the meat.  Save some of the un-broiled meat and the reduced braising liquid.  Then the next day (or the next or the next) warm up the liquid a little, toss some meat in it, and broil.  It's just as good as, and maybe better than, same-day carnitas.

I ended up eating carnitas all week.  I can't say I minded. 

A while ago a coworker and I were discussing Chevy's, and we both agreed that the sweet corn stuff they have is delicious. I wanted something to go with the carnitas tacos, and corn is really good right now, so I decided to make some. Apparently "Chevy's sweet corn stuff" is not the proper name for it; it is called sweet corn tomalito. 

3-4 pounds of boneless (or 4-5lbs of bone-in) pork shoulder
About 1/2 cup lard (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin (freshly toasted and ground if you can--it does make a difference)
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup orange juice

1. Cut pork into 1-2" cubes, trimming large sections of fat off (we need fat for the flavor, so just cut off any really large pieces).

2. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat with just enough lard to cover the bottom (about 1/2 cup).

3. Pre-heat oven to 300ºF 

4. Combine the salt, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder to make a spice rub.  Toss pork pieces with the spice rub. You can increase the amount of spice rub you make if you have more pork than called for in this recipe.

5. Brown the cubed pork well in the dutch oven, going in batches so there is only one layer of meat at a time.

7. When all the meat is browned, deglaze the pan's bottom with the orange juice, stirring to break up the brown bits. Put all of the meat back to the pan and almost fully cover the meat with water.

8. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven.

9. Stir the pot after one and two hours, the pork should be very tender towards the third hour. After about three hours, or until the pork is very tender, remove the dutch oven from the oven.

10. Remove all the pork from the dutch oven with a slotted spoon and put on a platter. Boil the braising liquid on the stove top to reduce.

11. After letting the pork cool for a few minutes, using your hands separate and discard any fat or gristle pieces that did not melt during braising. Tear the meat into smaller pieces.

12. Turn your broiler on to high and place a rack towards the top

13. Toss the now shredded pork with some of the reduced braising liquid (that should have boiled down significantly by now) and spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.

14. Broil the pork for approximately five minutes per side until the outside begins to carmelize.

15. Serve.

I made tacos with the carnitas, but you can use it any way you would like. For tacos, you will need these additional ingredients:

Corn tortillas
Green salsa
Sour cream

This is a super long post, but I will carry on. Sweet corn tomalito recipe below.

1/4 cup masa harina
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons milk

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the margarine, masa flour, and sugar until light and fluffy. In a food processor or blender, blend one cup of the corn kernels with the water and cornmeal just until smooth. Stir into the masa mixture. Mix in the remaining corn, baking powder, salt, and milk until the batter is smooth. Pour into a double boiler.  

2. Place the tomalito over a large saucepan of simmering water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. (I don't have a double broiler, so I instead lined the steamer thing for my large stock pot with cornhusks and steamed the tomalito that way. Here's a picture.)

3. Steam for 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm. Check water occasionally, and refill if necessary. Stir pudding before serving to give it a consistent texture. 

4. Serve in small scoops.

This is one of the best meals I have made in a while, and I have been making some good meals.

Bon appetit.


  1. J is going to LOVE this. I'm going to make it at some point.

    Also, I had a hard time reading the rest of the post after you mentioned Chevy's. Mmmmm Chevy's. So now that I got that out of my system, I will go back and read the rest.

    (J will love the corn stuff too.)

  2. You are so on top of reading my blog; I love it.

    J can thank me later :)

    I haven't been to Chevy's in so long. There aren't any in Portland, but there is one about 20 minutes away. I tried to talk a friend into going a couple weekends ago, and he said no. I was sad. I may have to make the trek by myself.

  3. It has lost some of its allure, sadly. J and I used to go there occasionally in STL (once with Patton!) but we went to another one somewhere else and it was not super.

    Now I get my giant calorie-laden pseudo-Mexican fix from Chipotle.

  4. Mmmm, that tomalito sounds amazing and I've never even been to Chevy's!

  5. The tomalito IS amazing, and it's vegetarian for you. Well, to be accurate, it is vegan since it is made with nasty nasty margarine. I don't think I have ever purchased margarine in my whole life. I almost made it with lard, and I might in fact try it again with lard. I do not joke when I say I think it might be healthier made that way.

  6. Good day! It was such a huge pleasure to visit this blog and to read this post. Will you be so nice and answer my question. Have you ever practiced guest blogging?