Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Desechos del Cerdo Carnitas

Most of the BBQ folks I know trim their pork spare ribs St. Louis style. I like the square presentation that gives, shown here on a pair I trimmed on Labor Day weekend.

The only down side is that you end up with the trimmings, I'd guess about a pound per rib. They are great smoked and chopped up into BBQ beans but after a while you just want something different.

So I was inspired a few weeks ago when Clint over at Smoke In Da Eye BBQ made carnitas with his rib trimmings instead of the traditional pork shoulder. I'd never made carnitas before so I perused my small library of cookbooks and the interweb thingy to get a few ideas. Here's what I came up with for my scraps of pig, adapted from this carnitas recipe posted by Emily Szopa.

Desechos del Cerdo Carnitas

3 lbs Rib trimmings scraps from St. Louis trimming of spare ribs
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 ea bay leaf
1 ea yellow onion peeled and quartered
4 ea garlic cloves peeled and smashed
12 ounce Beer divided

Place the rib tip trimmings, garlic, onion and bay leaf in a #12 cast iron dutch oven. Top with salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, and coriander. Add 1/2 of the beer.
Cover and place over direct heat on a 350f degree grill and braise the meat for 1 hour.

Add second half of beer, stir, cover and continue cooking for another 30-60 minutes, until the meat is fork tender.

NOTE: As with most of my meal preps, this could be done stove top as well. I just like cooking on my Big Green Egg outside as much as I can!

Remove the meat to a cutting board and shred, separating the fat, cartilage and bones from the meat. Add the shredded meat back to the cast iron and toss in the rendered fat. Return to grill for another 10 minutes then serve on white corn tortillas with toppings (black olives, tomatoes, black beans, diced onion, cheeses, lettuce, etc).

The meat had a definite south western, tex mex flavor to it and the family loved these. We'll definitely make these again!


  1. Looks great! I always viewed trimmings as just the cook's snack while waiting for the ribs to get done. This looks like an excellent way to use them in other dishes.

  2. mmm....looks great! maybe even with a little grilled corn added in there (as one of the etc. LOL) YUMMY

  3. Desechos del cerdo carnitas in Spanish...a fragrant and delightful dish to try soon :)



  4. Another gorgeous treat I am not quite ready (broken jaw wise) to eat. But I have, however, made a promise about ribs on the grill to Dash Of Stash ( If you have any grill tips for ribs please let me know. I know in advance he'll whip my unusualy skinny ass, but that does not mean I won't huff and puff and come up to the plate as best I can! GREG

  5. YUM! I love any Mexican food and these carnita tacos are making me so hungry. I like that you added cinnamon to the pork, I am sure it gave a nice flavor.

  6. Looks delicious and great use of the rib trimmings. I love it when you do the research and post the recipe, so all I have to do is cook it. Thanks.

  7. Great idea for rib trimmings. You can only make so many baked beans before you get sick of them.

  8. Chris, I saw your comment about Dutch oven cooking on sjgourmet's site. I had to come and visit your lovely blog. Your pictures are just beautiful and yours will be a site I will visit again!

  9. The rib trimmings at our house never last long enough to go into beans. They get eaten as chef's snacks, alongside the ribs for those folks that aren't as interested in gnawing on the bones, as burrito makings, and chopped in salads.

    One of these days I'm gonna have to set some aside for beans. Assuming that they don't get used as carnitas first... :)

  10. Beautifully done Chris, now slide over one of those carnitas to me!

  11. Chris, this is a terrific recipe. I have a couple racks of ribs for this week, and will be trying this. Excellent as usual.

  12. Nice job Chris, next time I do St Louis ribs, I am doing carnitas with the trimmings.

  13. What a fabulous way to use up the trimmings!

  14. Those carnitas look so tasty and good!


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