Here is my unrevised article that I hope will make it into the school paper. Should be interesting to see how much of the first paragraph gets edited out.
How can I about food and simultaneously interest the students of Lower Merion? I thought when I first sat down to write this piece. After having my awesome article that was supposed to accompany my cookie recipe last issue scrapped, I had to think of something else. See that was my launching pad, my unpretentious attempt to win the attention of the students so that I could go on to describe more involved cooking. Alas, my accompanying article was blown into oblivion, and all that remained was a lonesome recipe without explanation. But my original question remains, and I think I may have found an answer. What if I told you that you could quite easily make Chipotle’s carnitas, the braised pork that they stuff into the burritos, at home?
Carnitas is my favorite meat at Chipotle. It’s tender, succulent, salty, even slightly crispy, and it has a depth of flavor that neither the steak nor chicken can match. The meat however is not predisposed to be so tasty. To get such satisfying results, carnitas requires slow, moist cooking, yet demands little effort on the part of the cook.
Carnitas comes from pork shoulder, a fatty cut of meat that is relatively tough, due to large amounts of connective tissue. In cooking, you must use some type of liquid so that the connective tissue can be dissolved and the meat pulled apart. My choice moistening agents are coke and orange juice, however even just plain water works fine. The basic process is really simple—the pork is cooked in the liquid with some spices until it is falling apart—and since the Merionite probably won’t let me take up another half page with a recipe, I’ll just describe it right now.
Ok so start out with a whole pork shoulder that you can buy from any supermarket, and cut it into manageable pieces (roughly the size of a tennis ball). Salt the pieces thoroughly, then heat a ½ inch layer of oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Sear the meat in the oil, browning it thoroughly on all sides (turn on the fan too, it might get smokey in there). Remove the meat and pour in a can of coke, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. At this point, preheat the oven to 325. Return the pork to the Dutch oven and cover 2/3 of it with coke and orange juice. If you have them, throw in a few cloves of garlic, a cinnamon stick, plenty of chili powder, some ground cumin, some thyme, and a bay leaf. Place the pork in the oven for 3-4 hours, until it is so tender that it is falling apart. Remove the pork from the liquid, and when it’s cool enough to touch, heat a film of oil in a pan over medium-high heat . Shred the pork, then throw it in the pan and just let it cook, don’t touch it, for about three minutes, so that it can get nice and crispy on the bottom. Remove the pork and stuff it in a taco, or burrito, or just a sandwich, you name it! Try it now, thank me later.