Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Night Recipe: Cuckoo for Cocoa-Rubbed Carnitas!

I joked to someone on Twitter that I'm trying to space out my blogs about L'Albatros because it seems like I post about them a lot. Maybe when I go to Lolita in a bit, that'll give me something to talk about that doesn't involve my love for what Chef Bruell does with a Bearnaise sauce and some frites. I digress.

I normally train after work for at least an hour, so it's nice to be able to rely on our slow-cooker at times. You could easily do this in the oven if you want, just be sure you're home to watch it or trust your oven!

You can eyeball a lot of this stuff, and adjust spices to taste or number of servings.

Cocoa-Rubbed Carnitas

3-4 pounds of pork shoulder, or "country style" ribs
1/4 c cocoa powder
3 T. cumin
1 T. smoked sea salt (regular is fine)
1 t. black pepper
1 T. chili powder
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 sweet onion, sliced (optional)
Chicken broth/stock (enough to go up about 1" in the pan/pot). Water is okay.
1 lime cut up for garnish/finishing

Mix the spices together and rub over the shoulder roast or ribs. Place the meat in a slow cooker or dutch oven with a little olive oil and cooking liquid (water or broth). Toss in a bay leaf and three cloves of chopped garlic (Penzey's dehydrated garlic works well too. Smother the meat with onions (if you want). Put the slow cooker on low and cover. If you're doing this in the oven, cover the pot you're using and keep at a low temperature, around 250-300 degrees.

Using the oven requires a little more attention, and I don't have an exact cooking time. The last time I did this one in the oven I just cooked it for several hours until the house smelled amazing and the meat was falling apart. It's nice in a slow cooker because it requires zero maintenance.

When you're ready to serve, you can choose to remove the onions if you used them. There's also nothing wrong with keeping them in. If your roast has bones, be sure to remove them all before serving (do this while you're shredding the pork). Finish the carnitas with a quick squirt of lime juice. You can do this all at once or when you're just about to eat them. With an average sized roast, you will definitely have leftovers if you're only serving two or three people.

You can eat the carnitas in several ways. I personally had it on tortillas with Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream). You can put them on nachos, or just eat the carnitas by itself with some beans and rice on the side. If you're feeling particularly fancy, you can make some mole sauce to go with it. The recipe I used (below) makes enough mole to feed a small army, so you can half this recipe or just save it in your freezer for another festive night.


4 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 T. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped onion
3 T. chopped garlic
1 t. dried oregano (Ironically Greek works better than Mexican)
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
4 T. chili powder
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. honey

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over med.
2. Reduce the heat.
3. Add onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon.
4. Cover and cook until onion is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
5. Mix in chili powder and flour, stir for 3 minutes.
6. Gradually whisk in chicken broth.
7. Increase heat to medium-high.
8. Boil until reduced, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. Remove from heat.
10. Whisk in cocoa powder and honey; season with salt and pepper, if desired.

You can substitute your favorite dark chocolate (2 oz.) for the cocoa powder. I would not suggest milk chocolate. If you want, you can also add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite fruit preserves to give this a different taste.