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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas | #BeerMonth

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
I'm usually pretty traditional in my cooking of carnitas (or literally, "little meat")—pork, salt, and a little bit of water is really all it takes to make the best carnitas you'll ever eat in your life. Be it the traditional stove-top method of combining water and pork lard and simmering chunks of pork in it until the water evaporates and leaves the now-tender meat to crisp up in the lard, or my preferred oven-roasted method that uses the fat rendered from the pork bits themselves to baste and crisp them up. Either way, tender meat enclosed in salty crisp and sticky bits are little morsels of heaven on earth.

But today, in honor of beer month, I decided to step out of my puritanical-carnitas box and do the braising of the pork in a good, amber lager. I also added some spice beyond salt. It's gettin' crazy up in here. Crazy delicious.

Simple, rustic food is what I tend to gravitate towards, and this version of carnitas really fits the bill. A stove top braise in a fragrant beer bath and about 90 minutes is all it takes to achieve a plate piled high with tender pork. Once it is tender, you remove the lid and let the liquid evaporate and concentrate, inviting the whole garlic cloves and strips of lime zest to melt into it.

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
The most difficult thing you'll have to do to make these a meal is warming up a stack of corn tortillas and deciding what else, if anything, you want to use in your tacos. I tend to go simple—avocado, salsa, crema, and cilantro. I don't want to mask that lovely flavor that I just infused into the carnitas. Of course, they'd also make a wonderful torta filling or pizza topping.

Carnitas and beer (month) definitely go hand in hand.

Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
These chunks of pork are braised in a flavorful beer bath until tender. Carnitas make a delicious filling or topping for tacos, tortas and beyond!
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Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Keywords: braised entree beer Mexican pork

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 4 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch thick strips/hunks
  • 2 (12 ounce) bottles Dos Equis Ambar, or another Amber Lager
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • zest of 1 lime, cut into long strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of crushed red chile flakes
  • sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
to serve (optional):
  • hot corn tortillas
  • salsa
  • avocado or guacamole
  • sour cream (or Mexican Crema)
Combine pork, beer, and 12 fluid ounces (1 1/2 cups) of water in a large pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then skim any scum that rises to the top.

Once you've skimmed all the scum from the top, add the remaining ingredients and cover pot. Allow to simmer for 1 hour, until the meat is very tender.

Remove the lid and raise the heat to a steady boil; allow to cook until liquid is completely evaporated, ~30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The garlic cloves and lime zest will melt right into the meat, so you don't need to worry about removing them.

Scoop meat out onto a paper towel-lined plate or tray; sprinkle with a small smattering of salt. Serve warm in tortillas with salsa, guacamole or avocado, crema, and anything else you choose.

-inspired by and adapted from this recipe via Alaska Brewing Co
Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
I'm excited to be taking part in #BeerMonth again this year, hosted as always, by Sophia of NY Foodgasm! I already love a good beer, but Sophia's passion for beer is truly inspiring. Please check out all of this year's Beer Month recipes below!

Speaking of Beer and Carnitas, you might also be interested in these recipes...
Carnitas (the best and the simplest)
Carnitas con Verdolagas
Carnitas Pizza with Chipotle-Avocado Crema
Oatmeal Brown Ale Rolls
Sweet 'n Tangy Beer-Glazed Chicken