It’s no secret I like pork. It’s perhaps even more common knowledge that I like pork belly. But did you know that in the world o’ pig I’ve also got a soft spot for carnitas? Something about the juxtaposition of tender and juicy against crisp, nutty, brown. It’s pork simmered in pork fried in pork. That’s like a Hello Kitty pen-pencil wrapped in a Lisa Frank folder wrapped in a Trapper Keeper, ya dig? It just doesn’t get better.
But wait. Maybe it does get better. Maybe the Trapper Keeper is actually a Caboodle. Full of scrunchies and adjustable neon friendship bracelets and scads of pogs. Maybe there’s even a cat’s eye marble. Or a steely, holy shiiiiiih!
…the pencil is actually pork belly.
I wonder: how often do you come here just to find yourself thinking, What the eff is she talking about? Just get on with the futhermukking food already, weirdo! Do I even want to know how often? Is it, like, all the time? (Side note: Yay! You come here all the time!? Thanks!)
Cutting to the chase now: this is pork belly, carnitas style — and it’s a little bit excellent times a million.
Note: Pork belly in my typical preparation is best enjoyed wrapped in a warm tortilla or lusciously draped over hot white rice, so why not modify a rice to complement this rendition? There’s nothing quite like it to sop up the glistening, juicy gems of pork you see here. Preparing the pork, while not labor intensive, does take a bit of a simmer sesh. Make it even easier on yourself and split steps 1 & 2 over two days. Just don’t freak when the reserved cooking liquid jellies up on you in the fridge. It thins right back out when it hits the hot pan.
- 1 T light cooking oil (plus extra for crisping pork)
- 2 lbs pork belly cut into 1″ cubes
- 1-2 Mexican beers, such as Tecate (up to 24 total ounces, see instructions)
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 oz tin mild green chilies
- 2 tsp sea salt (plus extra for salting pork/serving)
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- lime wedges & cilantro for serving
STEP 1: Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat. Season pork liberally with salt and pepper. Add belly in a single layer, skin side down, and sear until browned, about 7 minutes. Do not overcrowd pan. (Work in batches if needed.) When pork skin is browned, add onions, chilies, 2 tsp salt, oregano, bay and enough beer to cover pork. (Add water if additional liquid is needed.) Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Remove lid and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes or until liquid has reduced by about a quarter to a third. Remove pork from cooking broth with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain cooking liquid and skim off excess fat (or use a handy-dandy gravy separator!).
If you’re going to do Step 2 at a later time, allow both the pork and the broth to cool and then refrigerate in separate containers.
STEP 2: (First, if you’re making Spanish Rice to go with this dish, now’s a good time to get it going.) Heat a generous glug of oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add drained pork to skillet, arranging cubes skin-side down when possible. Sear until crisp, several minutes, then toss pork around pan and continue to brown to your desired doneness. (I like it pretty crisped.) Just prior to serving, pour a cup or so of reserved cooking liquid over pork and heat through. (If it’s all jelled up from the fridge, no worries. It’ll liquefy as soon as it hits the pan.) Serve browned belly with lime wedges, extra salt and cilantro. And, of course, Spanish Rice and/or all your favorite accoutrements.
BONUS RECIPE, Ta-da! Foolproof Spanish Rice
By Emily Stoffel
Cook time: about 25 mins | Serves 4
Note: I’m horrid at making rice on the stovetop — BUT! if that’s your thing, not to fear. Just cook the rice as you normally would, adding all the ingredients listed below, and go shy on the water. If you’re going the rice cooker route, make sure you add the ingredients before you fill your pot with water to the 2-cup mark.
- 2 cups white rice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 T Best Salsa Ever (or your favorite smooth-textured salsa)
- 1/2 T chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic flavored oil (or 1 tsp olive oil plus one finely minced garlic clove)
Rinse rice per package instructions. Combine all ingredients in rice cooker pot (or stovetop pot, see note). Add water to the “2 cup” mark and cook as usual.