Carnitas Soft Tacos with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo
3 pounds thick, meaty country style pork ribs, pork butt or pork shoulder
2 pounds lard, or enough to cover the meat
1/4 cup water
1 orange, zest removed with a vegetable peeler in wide strips
1 lime, zest removed with a vegetable peeler in wide strips
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
12 soft corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Guacamole, accompaniment, recipe follows
Emeril's Pico de Gallo, accompaniment, recipe follows
Trim most of the fat from the meat, leaving a thin layer. Cut into 4-inch pieces.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the lard over medium-low heat. When it has melted but is not yet
very hot, add the pork, water, orange zest, lime zest, garlic, and salt. Cook at a gentle simmer,
stirring occasionally so that the meat evenly cooks, for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
If the meat needs more time and all of the water has evaporated, add a bit more water and continue
to cook until the meat is tender.
Once the meat is tender, raise the heat to medium-high. (Don't panic if the lard comes to a
rolling boil - this will diminish as the water evaporates and will become small bubbles.) After the
boiling lard changes to small bubbles, cook the meat for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until light
golden brown and crispy all over. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon or tongs and drain on paper
towels. Sprinkle with the salt. When the meat has cooled slightly, pull the meat apart using 2 forks
into shreds and smaller pieces and discard the bones.
To heat the tortillas, heat a medium skillet over low heat. Place the oil in a small dish and
before placing in the pan, brush both sides of each tortilla with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil. Place the
oiled tortilla in the skillet and cook until just warm and soft, 2 to 5 seconds per side. Remove
from the heat, place on a plate and cover with a cloth to keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve, make the tacos with the meat and warm tortillas, and garnish with the guacamole and pico
2 large, firm--ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced white onions
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon minced serrano chile
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mash with the back of a fork until mostly smooth
with a few chunks. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 2 cups)
Emeril's Pico de Gallo:
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced, seeded jalapeno or serrano chiles (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature
for 1 hour for the flavors to blend.
Yield: about 3 cups