Sometimes I get a grandiose idea and I get all fired up and I spend hours and hours focusing on my goal until the plan reaches fruition. And then there’s all those other days, when the grandiose idea fizzles like a flat soda.
Welcome to Flat Soda Day.
My idea was inspired by a craving for gorditas. Gorditas, which translates to “little chubbies”, are puffy corn tortillas stuffed with meats and sauces, or whatever else you might want to put in them. When made properly, gorditas are wonderfully crispy, warm, corn flavored pockets full of savory bliss. Like so many Mexican dishes, they instantly make me feel at home when I eat them, regardless of where I eat them.
Step number one for gorditas: prepare carnitas. Carnitas, which translates to “little meats”, is typically made with pork shoulder and is slowly roasted and then shredded. I tend to think of carnitas as the little brother of barbacoa. Carnitas are more gentle in flavor than bold, beefy barbacoa but, carnitas are probably more versatile.
In fact, carnitas are so versatile that I completely abandoned the notion of making gorditas and I decided to use them in burritos. That’s ok. I had some carnitas left over and made gorditas a few days later.
I usually roast a pork shoulder when making carnitas. The fat ratio in a pork shoulder is precisely what is needed for good carnitas. This time, I had a pork loin, which is very lean. I also had a few small pieces of leftover beef ribeye in the refrigerator. The fat content of the ribeye was just what the lean pork needed. I added a little lard, to further bump the fat content up, and then I roasted the meat for about 6 hours at low temperature.
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 lbs pork loin
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 ½ Tbs lard
¾ lb beef ribeye (cooked to medium rare)
Combine the cumin, oregano, paprika and oil in a small bowl. Mix together.
Coat the pork loin with the spices and oil.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Add the pork loin to the Dutch oven. Cover and cook at 250° for 6 hours. Remove from oven. Shred the meat with two forks.
Heat a cast iron skillet. Add shredded meat to the skillet and sear for a few minutes, or until the meat begins to char. Turn the meat and sear for another minute. Remove meat.
Serve in any number of dishes. Burritos, enchiladas, gorditas, flautas, chalupas, tacos…