Feature

Recipe of the week: Carnitas braised in wheat beer

Beer can be substituted cup-for-cup for stock or water whenever you’re making a sauce or soup.

Substituting beer for water when you’re cooking often makes sense, said Mark Bittman in The New York Times. “Beer’s flavors are arguably more varied and complex than any ready-made liquid besides wine,” and you can swap it cup-for-cup for stock or water whenever you’re making a sauce or soup. Certain beers complement particular ingredients better than others do. For the carnitas below, try Allagash White or a similar Belgian-style wheat beer. The hint of sourness “lends the meat a nice complexity.”

Carnitas braised in wheat beer
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, quartered
5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 ancho or other mild dried chile
salt and black pepper
2 12-oz bottles Belgian-style wheat beer
neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, if needed
lime wedges for serving

Put pork, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chile, and some salt and pepper in a Dutch oven or a large pot with a lid. Add beer, and water if needed, to cover. Turn heat to high, bring to boil and skim off any foam that forms on the surface. Partly cover and adjust heat to simmer. Cook until meat is quite tender, about 1 hour, then cool.

Discard bay leaves and spices and chile. Break or chop meat into bite-size pieces, return to pot, and cook uncovered until liquid has evaporated. Continue cooking in remaining fat until crisped and browned; add a little oil if it sticks or becomes dry. Serve with lime wedges, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Serves 4 to 6.

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