I made these tacos as an homage to my friend Lyonel's abuelita. When we were growing up, she fed us the most delicious tamales, while Lyonel's dad was an expert at carne asada. Every once in a while there were tender, yet crispy, carnitas. I really miss the food and people of my childhood. It really seems like the friends you had when you were young are unlike any you will ever have. At least there's food that serves as a time machine to transport one back to more golden times.
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1” chunks, trimmed of excess fat
2-3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
16 ounces vegetable or chicken stock (see notes)
1 cup red wine
1 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced
2 Anaheim chiles
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut the pork shoulder into 1" cubes, discarding excess fat.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. In three batches, sear the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until browned. If necessary, pour of excess fat between batches and add additional oil.
3. Once all the pork is browned pour off any excess fat. Deglaze the skillet with the red wine and scrape to release the fond.
4. Add the pork back into the pan, then add stock and enough water so that the pork pieces are 2/3rds submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and onion, then stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic.
7. Cover the skillet in aluminum foil and braise the pork in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until the pork is falling apart.
8. Meanwhile, roast the Anaheim chiles over an open flame. Wash in cold water and scrub away the skin. Remove the seeds, thinly slice, then reserve.
9. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on the stovetop, pouring off any excess liquid of need be. Add the chiles, turn heat to medium high and brown the pork until crispy.
10. Serve on warmed tortillas, topping with salsa.
I think that using stock and wine to braise the pork is critical to adding additional flavor. Many people braise carnitas in water, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Why avoid flavor?
Regarding stock, please don't use stock with a high salt content. I think vegetable stock is the best for this recipe, but others will do in a pinch.