I have a question about the recipe "Diana Kennedy's Carnitas" from Genius Recipes: how do people feel about the citrus addition to the basic recipe at http://smittenkitchen.com... ? I am conflicted.
Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52
I feel very good about the citrus! But I haven't tried the addition myself. I plan to soon.
I think it would be a great addition, but like Kristen, I have yet to try it. Diana Kennedy's are SO GOOD!
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
To me, Diana Kennedy is a goddess. If she says citrus, it's a go. I mean, what the heck, it's all a science experiment, right? Try it. If you don't like it, don't do it again.
I have made Diana Kennedy's carnitas many times and they are fabulous. Then I saw a Mark Bittman article about cooking with beer and tried his recipe -- too many ingredients did not make for better carnitas. BUT, still intrigued with the idea of adding a little more flavor to the carnitas, I added 1 bottle of beer to the water in the Diana Kennedy version: excellent!! So my advice with the citrus is - use it in moderation with the water in the Diana Kennedy version. Remember that it will concentrate down as it boils away, making the frying at the end a little messier (which happened with all those Mark Bittman ingredients). To my taste, a squeeze of fresh lime on the carnitas, along with your favorite salsa (that of course includes chile, onion and cilantro), fresh corn tortillas and avocado to taste is just heaven. The carnitas are so wonderful made the traditional way. In Mexico (and East LA) people add extra flavors afterwards when they eat them.
We add orange zest or strips of orange rind to many braises. It is a lovely addition. We have started to zest and/or cut strips of the zest of lemons, limes, and oranges, before we juice any of them. it is great to have them on hand for all sorts of dishes. They're also great in salad dressings. I am experimenting with freeze-drying them. You can buy dried orange zest, so, why not?
It never hurts to try, but after many experiments I decided that to make the crispy style of carnitas I prefer I can't put any sugary (which beer and citrus juice both contain) elements into the braising liquid. I tried to explain this in my recipe here http://www.food52.com/recipes... (I wish I'd thought to look up Diana Kennedy's recipe before), but didn't emphasize that the minimalism in the braising water is important to get the sort of crisping I like. I've been served many styles of carnitas across the North American continent: some that are mostly braised, and not truly crisped, which can take a lot of braising flavor, some that are partially crisped in larger chunks, then shredded (probably incidentally in the turning of the meat), my personal favorite, moist on the inside small chunks (literally little meats) with a definite crispy crust on all edges, and one step further, something that is practically chiccarones (not the pork rind only fluffy kind, but the kind with meat still attached that is fried crisp and hard so there is little moisture remaining).
In my hands, I can only get the moist in the center, sufficient crisping on the sides without any sugar, otherwise I get browning and burning before adequate crisping. The zest could work, though, if you want orange flavor. Of course, I always squeeze lime over the tacos, so there is at least a little citrus even in a minimalist version.
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