Hatch it all! The favorite New Mexico Chiles are back in season, and here in Austin hatch season is in full swing.
Hatch everything, I mean everything. Even the things you don’t want to Hatch they will be Hatched.
This green spicy capsicum grown in the Hatch Valley along The Rio Grande, New Mexico is irresistible. The fruity and one-note spicy chile get’s you every time. It is the kind of heat that builds up little by little and suddenly you just feel like screaming FUEGO!
This sneaky and delicious chile is the August town fever here in Austin, Texas.
With this contagious spicy Hatch fever, I thought about a new spin on a classic dish from Michoacan, “Carnitas”, Hatch Carnitas is my recipe.
Me being from Jalisco, the neighbor Michoacan state, the “carnitas” are prepared slightly different than original authentic Michoacanas. Why? Well isn’t it always like that? Different versions upon ingredients and regional. You see the authentic Carnitas are made in a huge copper pot, and if this pot comes from the coppersmithing town Santa Clara del Cobre even better! The whole pig is broken down into pieces and fry in its own fat within this large single pot. And if the pig comes from La Piedad Cabadas where the best pork is raised in Mexico, even better. Typically they are cooked outside on a wood fire, where the copper pot its triveted and set with pork lard and a huge wood paddle is used to stir the bubbling unctuous meat. Sounds like fun right?…Well not so much, when you live in the city. Honestly, you have to leave this huge production to the experts of Quiroga, Michoacan was the Carnitas were borne. If you have the chance to travel try them. They are a manjar of gods and the real deal.
Slowly but surely this Carnitas recipe traveled to the neighbor states and people adjusted the recipe to a smaller scale, fitted to a more homestyle recipe. The Copper pot gives the authentic color and flavor to the carnitas. With this in mind these recipes have been adjusted by adding different ingredients like orange juice, condensed milk, herbs and spices that mimic a little the authentic flavors. All these alternate recipes are great, in their own style.
What I attempted with this recipe is to recreate the “Carnitas” texture and succulent juiciness without using too much fat. I used a neutral oil instead of lard. Grapeseed oil lets the flavor of the sweet pork meat shine. I used pork shoulder that I trimmed a bit to leave a leaner cut of meat, without compromising the flavor, after all, you have to remember the Carnitas origin and live some flavor. I also adapted the recipe to the flavors of the Hatch peppers. I used fired roasted hatch peppers that added a medium spicy fruity flavor, that gave the meat a great color and a sticky crusty spicy coat in combination with the sweetness from the pineapple juice. These two ingredients balanced the sweet and acidity flavor that in combination with the pork fat its the bomb. Milk and herbs as supporting cast of flavor and tenderness while it braises.
I don’t own a copper pot, but my beloved enamel cast iron red pot it’s my best accomplice. I know you are wondering why not use the slow cooker? Well, I like to be able to control the heat at any time. When you Braise on the stove like this carnitas, I cook them with a lid on for an hour and a half and then uncovered at a bit faster pace for 45 minutes or so, to obtain the best results; crusty glazed exterior and succulent moist inside. I have used the slow cooker in other attempts and the results taste more like pulled pork to me. I’m also including a Simple quick pickled vegetable that is KEY to serve along the Carnitas. This element brings them alive, an acid-spicy-sweet -crunchy and fresh component that just round up every bite. Make them its so easy and it’s a must, I could not imagine Carnitas without this pickled vegetable concoction its a classic… Slowly but surely these braised Hatch Carnitas will drive you to the moon and back, It is a great version to make at home.
Enjoy the Hatch fever!
For the Hatch Carnitas Recipe, you will need…
Hatch Carnitas Home Made Style
Serves 6 Michoacanos, 8 New Mexicans or 12 hungry Gueritos
4- 5 lbs Pork shoulder*or pork country style ribs
¼ cup grape seed oil/or any neutral oil.
Salt and pepper
10-12 roasted Mild Hatch peppers skinned and de-seeded and pureed.**
½ Navel orange
1-1/2 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup fresh milk
1/2 white onion
4 garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon Mexican dry oregano
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt.
1 cup water
Tortillas, Limes, and a Simple Quick pickled Onions , Carrots and Hatch. Recipe ahead…
You also will need:
3.5 Qt Dutch Cast iron Enamel Pot or a 5 Qt. enamel cast iron Braiser
I know you are wondering why not use the slow cooker? Well I like to be able to control the heat at any time. When you Braise on the stove like this carnitas, I cook them with a lid on for an hour and fifteen minutes and then uncovered at a bit faster pace for 45 minutes or so, to obtain the best results. Crusty and succulent. I have used the slow cooker in other attempts and the results taste more like pulled pork to me.
*If using Por shoulder, remove some of the thickest part of fat, if you wish a leaner carnitas. I appointed to 4-5 lbs. Considering that this cut of pork always includes a mayor chunk of fat that need s to be removed other wise its to greasy.
** I used fresh roasted Hatch chiles, you can use canned if no other choice
1. Salt and pepper the pork meat, cut into large chunks. On a 3.5 Qt Dutch Cast iron Enamel Pot heat up the oil, and sear the pieces of pork all sides if possible, you might have to sear them in two batches. Avoid crowding the pan, to best results.
2. Once they are seared, fit all the pieces like a puzzle well snuggled. Add the onions, garlic cloves, herbs salt, pineapple juice, milk, and squeeze the orange juice and add the orange pieces into the pot. Cover, bring to a fast simmer, then turn down the heat to a slow simmer, at his point add the Hatch pepper puree.
3. Cover and slow simmer for 1 – ½ hrs.
4. Uncover them and carefully stir, you might add a bit more pineapple juice or water if they look too dry. Keep cooking them for another 30- 45 minutes uncovered. until the liquids start drying out.
5. At this point check for donness. Remove from fire and with a brush or spoon spoon some of the bottom juices brushing the top of the meat. Set aside and let it rest with lid half way for 20 minutes. Mean time, prepare the tortillas, lime wedges, drinks, set up the table and be prepared to assemble the tacos!
Simple Quick Pickled Onions Carrots and Hatch
4 Mild roasted hatch peppers cut into fine strips
3 Carrots cut into fine strips I used my julianne peeler*
1 small medium Red Onion cut into fine wedges
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
2 pinches oregano
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
In a small pot bring water and vinegar to a boil , add sugar and salt until dissolve. Set aside. Let it cool a bit until luke warm. Add the Hatch peppers, carrots, onions and a dash of oregano. Set a side let them marinate for at least 2 hours.
This can be prepared in advance, the day before or before you start to cook your Hatch Carnitas, by the time the Carnitas are done this concoction will be pickled and ready to use in your tacos!.