Meet The Chef: David Lebovitz
If you haven’t discovered the talented, wickedly funny and clever David Lebovitz, consider this introduction our gift to you. The author of eight books (all wonderful), David started his culinary career at the age of 16 ” washing dishes in a steakhouse at our local strip mall.” After, moving away from the dishpan, he found himself at Chez Panisse, working alongside his co-owner Executive Pastry Chef Lindsey Shere who became his mentor. From there, he worked as a pastry chef (he was named one of the Top Five Pastry Chefs in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle) and began his supernova launch which took him to Paris where he continues to create beautiful meals and write books and blogs that help us do the same.
Today we are sharing his gorgeous Carnitas recipe from his website (an adaptation from his book, The Sweet Life in Paris.
Notes From The Chef: Some cooks add a teaspoon or so of Mexican dried oregano. To change things up, I often use beer in place of a portion of the water. Other cooks use orange juice or even soda. I like my carnitas deep, dark, and crisp on the outside if serving them with rice and beans. For tacos, I shred the meat, as shown in this post.”
4 to 5 pounds (2-2,25kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
Make Your Carnitas:
1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)
2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single layer, cook them in two batches. If they are too crowded, they’ll steam rather than brown.
3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits.
4. Heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) degrees.
5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd’s submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.
8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2 inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.
9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.