I enjoy traveling around the country and visiting new places and most of all trying new foods. It seems like every place I go has their own unique flavor and local dish. One of my favorite places to visit is Santa Fe, New Mexico. The people are very nice and friendly, the scenery is beautiful with wide open spaces framed by mountains and the food… well, the food is amazing. I’ve been back a couple of times and always find something new about Santa Fe that I absolutely love and always find a new meal that I cant stop thinking about. On my first trip a few years ago me and my wife stopped into a little restaurant for lunch and we tried a delicious sandwich. It was a pork carnitas torta. This sandwich was made with pork carnitas on a toasted torta roll and topped with a wonderful jalapeno aioli. The sandwich also had fresh avocado, tomato, shredded lettuce and red onion. I’m not sure which part made it taste so great but I will tell you that all of those ingredients together made it something to remember. I just happened to be thinking about that trip the other day and thought that now would be a great time to put together my recipe for the carnitas and aioli and also introduce you all to a great sandwich.
If you have never heard of carnitas then I am sorry that you have been missing out on them all this time, but am now going to help you right that wrong. Carnitas is a braised shredded pork. The pork is cooked over a course of several hours until it falls apart and shreds into small pieces. It is heavily seasoned with aromatic spices and usually cooked in oil or lard as well as its own juices. I however will not be cooking in lard this time around since I do try and find healthier ways to cook from time to time. Carnitas have a very delicious and unique flavor that I am sure you will love.
I have been working on my carnitas recipe for a while now and am pretty pleased with the flavors I have put together. My mouth is watering just thinking about it so let’s go ahead and get started.
Things you need before getting started:
Sharp knife and cutting board, dutch oven or deep pan that can be covered with a lid and put into the oven. blender or food processor, tongs or long handled fork.
3 jalapenos (seeded and chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 cup mayo
Two limes (for juice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 to 2 and 1/2 pound pork roast
1/2 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
2 limes (for juice)
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup water
1 Tomato (sliced)
Red onion (sliced)
First I am going to show you how to make the aioli (sauce) for the sandwich. You will want to make the aioli first so that it can sit in the fridge and let the flavors meld while the pork is cooking. (Note: since this is all going in the blender, you can just do a rough chop, no need to get fancy here).
Remove the seeds and membrane from the jalapeno and chop the pepper and garlic up. Put all of the ingredients listed for the aioli above into the blender and blend\puree until it is all mixed together into a nice sauce. Pour it into a container and put in the refrigerator to cool and let the flavors blend while you cook the pork. (Note: for a little extra flavor you can roast the jalapenos before hand but it is not required. It’s all up to you).
Cooking the carnitas.
(preheat the oven to 350)
First you will want to brown the roast on all sides on the stove top and season with half of the salt, pepper and cumin. After you brown the roast on all sides add the rest of the seasonings, yellow onion, garlic, lime juice and water, put the lid on the pot and place it in the oven. Let that roast for about 2 and a half hours. After roasting for two and half hours, remove the pot from the oven and set on the stove top to cool for about 30 minutes. Do not remove the lid yet as it is still cooking inside. After about 30 minutes remove the lid and use the tongs or fork to start shredding the pork. It should all fall apart pretty easily. You want to shred it all into small thin pieces. Stir everything in the pot together making sure to get the nice bits of brown fond on the sides and bottom of the pot mixed in as well. Put the lid back on the pot to keep it warm and start getting ready to make the sandwich.
While the carnitas are cooking go ahead and slice the tomato and red onion into thin slices. When it gets about time to take the pot out of the oven go ahead and remove the seed and skin from the avocado and slice it into thin slices. You don’t want to slice the avocado too soon because it can tend to start turning brown if it sits out for too long.
Make the sandwich.
Slice the tortas in half long ways like you would a bun. Now heat a pan on your stove top and lightly toast the insides of the torta. Place the bottom half on a plate and put a good amount of the pork carnitas on top of it. Now add a few slices of avocado, onion and tomato and then add a little bit of the shredded lettuce. Now top that with a generous amount of the aioli and place the other half of the torta on top.
There you have it. A nice fresh taste of the southwest that has stuck with me over the years. However, you do not have to make a sandwich with the carnitas. Another great way to eat them is to put them on a nice hot flour tortilla and add a little salsa for a really tasty taco. If you need a good salsa recipe you can find one on my site here https://castironandfire.com/2017/02/17/south-texas-hot-sauce-salsa/
They are also really good served by themselves with a side of black beans and a few slices of pickled jalapenos.
Whatever way you decide to eat them I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I did. Every time I make them it takes me back to Santa Fe all over again.
Thanks for reading,