Somehow, this became the week of braised meat. In addition to the oxtails mentioned previously, I made carnitas.
I didn’t really grok carnitas until very recently, and I certainly wasn’t capable of cooking good ones until I found this recipe. It’s my all-time favorite Internet find for three reasons: It’s practically idiot-proof, it really works, and right in the middle it reminds you to call your mom.
That said, I often feel odd when I cook carnitas. I live near the Mission district in San Francisco, and there are roughly 2.3 million taquerias within a mile of my house. In fact, some of the best carnitas that I’ve ever had are at the taqueria that Anita and I consider our “local.” For an investment of five minutes and two dollars paid to a local business, I can get a carnitas taco that doesn’t have to step aside for anyone. Compare that with $15 or more, plus five hours of cooking. Given, it’s easy time that you can do other things with and it makes the house smell great, but five hours is five hours.
This is the same kind of thinking that eventually made me pull the plug on brewing my own beer. The scale was a little different: three days of work scattered across six or eight weeks of waiting, plus time spent cleaning and storing the gear. But the theory was the same, and the argument was completely insupportable when I could go down to the store and buy a six-pack from local boys who done good.
But what I suspect it comes down to is that I like to do things that I’m good at, even if they’re completely superfluous. Much to my chagrin — as it seems like something that a competent man should be able to do — I was never very good at brewing beer. But I can say with a total lack of modesty that my carnitas kick ass.