Monday, May 14, 2018

Carnitas Braised in White Wine #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

Today is our third  May post for our Kitchen Matrix Project, named after Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook. You can read about the year-long project: here. This month, I chose the recipes and went with a Latin theme. So, last week, we worked with masa. The first week of the month, we made salsa. This week, we're making carnitas. And so get the idea.

The #KitchenMatrixCookingProject Carnitas Plates

Carnitas Braised in White Wine
slightly adapted from Mark Bittman

This recipe in Bittman's book is an oddity in that there is only one recipe; if you don't have a copy of the cookbook, you can read it online: here. There are no variations, no matrix on other possibilities. So, I made my own adaptations based on what I had on hand and on a previous experience with making carnitas. Actually, I have made carnitas quite a bit. In fact, I even won a cooking contest at a local brewery making carnitas with one of their brews. You can read about my Legend of Laguna Carnitas Over Pan-Fried Polenta Cakes. But one of the comments that one judge made stuck with me: if it's not made with lard, it's not really carnitas. And while I'm usually fine making inauthentic carnitas, that is to say without lard, I decided that I wanted to add a little bit of lard to this recipe.


  • 2  pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 T oil
  • 1  large onion, quartered
  • 5  garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 1 T freshly ground salt
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 1 pasilla negro dried chile or other mild chile
  • 1  T cumin seeds
  • 1  T coriander seeds
  • 2 C white wine (Bittman uses white beer, but I used white wine)
  • 2 C water
  • 2 to 3 T pork lard, optional

For Serving
  • Pico de gallo or other salsa
  • small tortillas

In a small mixing bowl, blend together ground cumin, salt, and pepper. On a cutting board or platter, rub the ground cumin mixture onto all sides of the pork. Set aside.

In a large lidded pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 T oil. Brown the pork on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove pork. Add in onions and garlic. Stir to coat with oil and rendered fat. Place the pork on top of the onions and add in remaining carnitas ingredients.

Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the meat braise for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. The meat should be tender enough to shred with a fork.

Remove the bay leaves and dried chile. Remove the meat the a cutting board and tear or chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to brown and crisp. If it dries out too much, add a splash of oil or a tad more lard.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with salsa and warmed tortillas.


  1. Where did you get that lard? I'm coveting it! Love your take on the recipe!

  2. When I raised hogs I was able to get lard from the processor but I never did...He probably loved me and the fact that he got to keep and/or sell my lard.

    1. I'll bet. I bought leaf lard from the guys raising Kurobuta pork recently. Can't wait to try it for a pie crust.

  3. What a great idea: carnitas. With or without Lard. I just read a mystery novel with many wonderful descriptions of Southwest foods -- many of them essentially recipes. I'd love some of that right now!

    My book review includes a lot of quotes about that food -- here:

    best... mae at


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