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Tacos con carnitas

April 15, 2009

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Serves 8

At the recent Cochon555 event, Farmstead Inc. co-owner and chef Matthew Jennings's pork tacos were more involved than this streamlined version. His dish was one of several that won him the coveted award Prince of Porc.

PORK

1 small Spanish onion (skin intact), quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 Roma tomato, halved
1 jalapeno pepper, halved (seeds intact)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
5 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves removed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 pounds pork butt
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees.

2. In large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, tomato, jalapeno, and vegetable oil. Toss well and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the mixture for 15 minutes or until the onions and jalapenos are softened. Set aside to cool.

3. In a blender, combine the vegetables, lemon or lime juice, cilantro leaves, chili powder, and cumin. Puree the mixture. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper.

4. Thoroughly massage the pork butt with the vegetable sauce. Place it in gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Pour remaining sauce over the pork. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning the bag twice.

5. Set the oven at 300 degrees.

6. In a flameproof casserole, combine the pork and marinade. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook the pork for 4 hours or until it shreds easily with fork. Remove meat from the pan and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl.

7. Using 2 forks or your hands, finely shred the pork. Transfer it to a bowl. Slowly add enough of the sauce to the pork to make a thick stew-like consistency.

8. Stir in the brown sugar. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

FOR SERVING

32 corn tortillas
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups crumbled queso fresco
2 limes, each cut into 8 wedges
1. Arrange the tortillas on the counter. Add pork to each one.

2. In a small bowl toss the onion and cilantro. Add some of the onion mixture and queso fresco to each tortilla. Serve garnished with lime.

Adapted from Matthew Jennings