Slow food is some of the best food and along those lines, good things come to those who wait. This is exactly the situation with these flavorful, melt in your mouth pork belly carnitas from Food 52. These carnitas require some pre-planning but I’m sure you’ll agree that the time and effort is so worth it.
These carnitas are one of my favorite lazy weekend cooking projects. The day before I plan on serving them I marinate them in a tangy combination of pineapple juice and spices. The next day the slow cooking begins. The meat cooks in its own juices then its own rendered fat ensuring that the results are fork tender and oh so delicious.
PORK BELLY CARNITAS
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 1/2pounds pork belly, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
- In a container or large freezer bag, combine the apple or pineapple juice, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, and oregano.
- Add the pork belly and refrigerate while it marinates for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Remove the pork belly from the fridge an hour before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Tip the marinade into a large Dutch oven and spread the pork belly pieces in a single layer in the pan. Pour over your stock. Add salt if you’re using unsalted stock. Cook for 2 hours with a lid on.
- After 2 hours, remove the lid and cook the pork belly for another hour. This will cook off the remaining liquid and finish rendering the pork fat.
- Remove the pork belly from the oven. Transfer the pork pieces to a large, flat-bottomed skillet. Spoon off as much of the fat as you can from the Dutch oven and add it to the skillet with the pork belly pieces. Avoid any solids from the bottom of the pan, as these will burn!
- Over medium heat, continue to cook the pork belly in its own rendered fat. The pan should be bubbling but not spitting. Flip the pork belly pieces so that they brown evenly on all sides. This should take about 30 minutes.
- When all sides are brown and a little crispy, remove the pork belly from the pan and drain on some paper towels.
- Shred the meat with two forks and serve on top of soft tortillas with your favorite toppings.