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Carnitas, or “little meats”, are the new trend in Tex-Mex – similar to tacos, but without the crumbled ground beef and taco shells, carnets are made with braised pork (or other types of meat) and your choice of toppings. It’s easy to buy a chunk of pork shoulder and braise it over the course of an afternoon, then pull it apart and serve it straight from the pot, family-style, with corn or flour tortillas, grated cheese, salsa, avocado, chopped tomato and lettuce and sour cream.It’s a great way to feed a crowd – or a party.

Pork Carnitas

Pork:
2-4 lb. pork shoulder
salt and pepper
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 bottle ale, or about 2 cups stock, apple cider, or other liquid
a few sprigs fresh thyme, 1 Tbsp. canned chiles in adobo, or 1/4 cup chili powder

For serving:
small corn or flour tortillas
grated aged cheddar or crumbled feta (optional)
finely chopped onion
chopped tomatoes
sliced avocado
sour cream
salsa

Cut the pork into large chunks, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set a heavy skillet or braiser set over medium-high heat, adding a drizzle of oil. Brown the meat on all sides, turning the pieces with tongs, then transfer to a heavy lidded baking dish (or leave it in the braiser). Add the beer or other liquid – it should come about halfway up the meat – and sprinkle with thyme or chili powder or stir in the chiles en adobo. Cover tightly and roast at 325?F for 2 1/2-3 hours, until the meat is very tender. Remove from the oven and shred with forks.

Turn the oven up to 375F and return the pan to the oven, uncovered; cook for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the meat is turning golden.

To serve, set out bowls of pork and accompaniments; to assemble, spread tortillas with bean mixture, top with pork and toppings of your choice.

Serves 6-12

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