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!