So pretty and gelatinous
October 18, 2010 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I've been on a carnitas kick. My initial goal was to put them in tamales but I've been using the carnitas in tacos, on top of white rice, on gorditas from Trader Joe's, and even adding it to mofongo (instead of pernil).

The first time I cooked it in lard, oregano, orange juice etc. Didn't figure there would be any other use for the lard so I discarded it once done. The second time I cooked it in water, sofrito, orange juice, and other seasonings. Afterwards I strained the remaining liquid and popped it into the fridge after it cooled. When I checked on it the next day, there was a cap of fat on top and the most gelatinousy somethingness underneath it. I found it to be oddly exciting but I have no clue what to do with it.

1. How else can I serve my carnitas? I like making it and want to add it to my regular meal rotation.

2. What can I do with the beautiful gooey leftovers?

3. How do I store this?

4. For how long?

posted by mokeydraws to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The gelatin is just that, gelatin (melted collagen). I've used liquids like that before in cooking rice, beans, vegetables, soup, or however else you'd use stock. Or even just splashing a little in to lubricate some dry food or leftovers, especially with the gelatinous goodness.

You can store in your fridge for a few days or a week, but it's freezable for two months too.
posted by artifarce at 12:46 PM on October 18, 2010

Well, it seems like what you've basically got there is rendered connective tissue and fat, eg gelatin . If you want to go super-traditional, you could make some kind of aspic, I suppose, but otherwise I think you're basically dealing with a reduced stock base that you could use like bouillon to add flavor and richness to soups and stews - paella, jumbelya also. The only thing is, given thwarting spices you used to make the carnitas, I think it would only work with complementary cuisines - it probably taste all wrong if you dropped a spoonful into say, coq au vin. I bet if you froze it it'd last forever, not sure how it would fare in the fridge....
posted by Diablevert at 1:00 PM on October 18, 2010

The gelatin you've made is pork stock. It's great, and can be used for giving lots of other savory dishes a "saucier" quality. Also, you can use the separated fat to cook eggs, beans, onions, etc.

My favorite way to eat carnitas wis with mashed sweet potatoes(camotes). Cook the potatoes by peeling them, cutting them into cubes, and then boiling them in a flavorful broth (the pork stock would come in handy here). This broth can also include various types of roasted peppers, chipotle in adobo, beer, onions, garlic, carrots, whatever you feel. But it must include salt. When most of the water has boiled off, use a potato masher (or an immersion blender) to smooth it all out. Then, mix the carnitas and the camotes, top with some lime juice fresh onions, and cilantro.

Or put this in a burrito with some beans and avocado. It's messy, but it's delicious.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:01 PM on October 18, 2010

" the strong spices," not "thwarting" . Stupid phone
posted by Diablevert at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2010

Yep, jon-evil has it- you have pork stock. Use it in anything you want to add those flavors to- use it instead of chicken stock or water in rice. Add it to anything you want to make a sauce for.
posted by TheBones at 1:18 PM on October 18, 2010

You could probably use the carnitas to make a slightly untraditional banh mi. Or, of course, a cubano, since you're already used to substituting for pernil.
posted by cabingirl at 2:01 PM on October 18, 2010

Use the fat anywhere you would otherwise use oil or butter. Frying eggs, sauteing vegetables, even savory drop biscuits. A whole lot of modern recipes call for vegetable oil as saturated fat has a bad rep. I won't go into the science/politics of that, as I'm rather unqualified, but I can say that animal fat is tasty.

If you're also taking your meat off the bone, you should totally make a bean, split pea, or lentil soup the next day. Start some onion, celery and green peppers in the fat. Some garlic is probably a good idea too. Add a pound of beans and your bone. Cover with your broth and enough water to make up an inch above the surface of the beans.

Also try achiote as a seasoning for your carnitas. Cochinita Pibil is prepared differently than carnitas, but it's a similar idea and with achiote flavored marinade/sauce. Likewise you can put it in tacos, over rice, or just all by its self and it is delish.
posted by fontophilic at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2010

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