Friday, July 25, 2008

Crockpot Carnitas Pool Party

Our Wall-e comes with pork.

Out of all our wedding gifts, one of the ones I was most excited about was the crockpot. Ray and Fran got it for us. Ever since our resident BBQ experts, Pat and Heather Roach, moved back to Austin, I’ve been jonesing for good backyard BBQ. Pat taught me how he slow smokes his ribs and brisket and tri-tip—I thought I was a good student—but I’ve been unable to come anywhere near Pat’s creations. I think I nailed it once, had a couple average pieces, and a couple of complete failures. I was assured that using a crockpot would yield similar results with less mess and less cleanup. I’m not done smokin’, but after this first attempt with the crockpot, I’m sold on it.

The model Ray got us was the Hamilton Beach six-quart slow cooker, which I believe was rated by Bon Appetit as the best they tested. Tania immediately wrote an email thanking them for the gift.

“We don't want any fucking thanks,” Ray replied. “We want to make sure you put a seasoned pork shoulder roast in there... covered to the rim in sauerkraut... set that shit on low for 8 hours. That's what we want!! and don't forget the fresh ground black pepper on top!! And for Christ sakes resist the urge to open the lid. It's a sin to open the fucking lid until it's done!! mouth is watering.”

The girls are really into their floaty noodles. They started this bizarre merry-go-round thing where they bounced around in a circle blowing water out their asses while simultaneously laughing their asses off.

Blow it out your ass!

1 4-lb pork shoulder (boston butt)
1/4 cup chicken stock
4 or 5 onion hockey pucks
1 large jalapeno
1/4 lemon
handful of cilantro
salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

We used the six-quart bowl in the Hamilton beach crockpot. Our pork shoulder weighed about 4.25 lbs and it just fit. (It was only six bucks, I can’t believe how something so awesome could come from something so cheap.) I put the onion pucks on the bottom, as well as the cilantro and the jalapeno, and just plopped the seasoned shoulder on top. Squeezed the lemon over it and dropped that in. Then I poured the chicken stock in. While there wasn’t much variation between the other recipes I looked at online (except in the seasonings…basically you throw whatever the hell you want on it), the one major difference I noted between all was on the subject of liquid. Some people threw a beer in, some stock, but others insisted on no liquid at all. The latter’s philosophy being, I believe, that the pork will render enough fat liquid to keep the meat moist. In the end, Tania thought a little chicken stock would be a good idea. But we didn’t use much: about a half inch deep.

It was midnight when I put the lid on and turned the knob to “low.” Then went to bed. I awoke a couple times in the night to check on my li’l bebbie just sitting there bubbling away in its juices. It had indeed gained more liquid which had crept up the side of the meat. I was worried we fucked up with the broth. I wanted to lift the lid so bad, but all I could hear was ray’s voice, “It's a sin to open the fucking lid until it's DONE!…done…done……dooooone…” I left it alone and went back to bed. At 8 am, I awoke to the timer beeping. I got up and looked at it through the lid. “Ah bebbie, how you doing?” I couldn’t decide whether to go for the full ten hours, or check it then. I decided to check it.

Sharan gives Pearl an eau-gasm.

I opened the lid and was consumed by pig steam. Ahhhh, it smelled good. I took a fork and gently poked it. It jiggled and my fork sunk into the meat with no resistance. I lifted a forkful easily off the top and took a bite. I was astounded. Not only was it done, but it was perfectly moist and juicy and had perfect flavor. WOO HOO! CARNITAS!

We took the pot of pork to Sharan’s house that afternoon for her pool party. The nearest outlet we could find was in the lobby for the elevator. So that’s where we plugged her in. I think that might be one of the best photos I’ve ever taken: “Crockpot Filled With Pork in Apartment Elevator Lobby.” I’m surprised no one stole them. I hissed at the maintenance guy who vacuumed a little too close to the carnitas. He looked like some burnout from the 80s hair bear metal scene. He was like 50, but he was still rocking the dyed black coif. I bet he was the bass player in Cinderella or something.

Our gracious and classy host, Sharan… shooting her load all over her face.

Anyway, when the meat warmed up, we served it with little homemade tortillas (dude, we found the best Mexican grocery store on York Blvd.), onion and cilantro, queso fresca, and some hot sauces. I’m not saying they were the best carnitas ever, but as Gabe said, “You nailed it.” And Gabe is Mexican.

Gabe (brown), Scott (white).

Although some wetback once called him a whiteback, so I’m not sure how reliable his critique is. But I think everyone agreed with Gabe because within a couple hours, the bowl was empty. It looked like it had been licked clean.

Hail the crockpot! And thank you Ray and Fran.

My wife, Tania, blows her own load all by herself.


Anonymous said...

But shit dude, why not 'Carnie-tas?'

Twig said...

crock pots are great because its like a food troff that you can pick at all grandma used to fill it up on thanksgiving and christmas with these meatballs which sound weird, but they are incredibly tasty...a bag o meatballs a jar of grape jelly and a bottle of heinz chili sauce mix it up for bout an hour and get yourself some toothpicks and eat all day...i bet you could get all fancy with gourmet chili sauce and home made meatballs but why polish a turd..