The New Mexican chilli has a subtly sweet smokiness and earthy depth, with lightly pungent flavours of onion and garlic. These red chillies vary greatly in heat, though are usually mellow.
The New Mexican chilli was originally cultivated in 1894, and is a cross between Pasilla, Colorado and Negro chillies. The simplest way to use the chillies is to simmer in water and puree them. This forms the base of chilli con carne or a sauce for enchiladas.
‘Carnitas’ just refers to the shredded crispy pork, so it isn’t a meal by itself. You can make ‘carnitas fajitas’ (see steps at end of recipe). The pork can be slow cooked a couple of days in advance and kept in the refrigerator – and save the last step of frying the meat for just before you serve it.
Ingredients Serves: 6
- Corn tortillas
- Cut the boned pork shoulder into 2-inch chunks.
- In a heavy-bottom 9” diameter lidded pan, over a medium heat, dry fry 1 sachet of New Mexican Chilli for a few minutes without burning.
- Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to flakes. In the same pan, heat sunflower oil and fry smoked bacon lardons until browned.
- Add the pork shoulder pieces, ground cumin, ground coriander, fine salt, the ground New Mexican chilli and chicken stock. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer, place on lid and cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours over a low heat until the pork is tender (or 1 hour in a pressure cooker).
- Using a slotted spoon, lift out the pork into a separate dish. Increase the heat to high, and boil vigorously, reducing the liquid until there is only ½-1cm of liquid in the base of the pan. It will be the consistency of double cream.
- Add the pork back to the pan and mix well, shredding as you stir. Continue to cook over a medium to high heat for a few minutes longer as the liquid continues to reduce. If you do not want to use the meat straight away, leave to cool and keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.
- To serve, heat sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Lift in the shredded pork and leave to brown without stirring. After 5 minutes, move the meat around, flip some of the browned meat over, and leave to sit again for a few minutes. You want to brown and crisp up parts of the meat.
- Continue this for 20-30 minutes without letting the meat burn. The carnitas are now ready to spoon into tacos, fajitas, over tortilla chips, or just to serve with rice and beans.
To turn the carnitas into ‘carnitas fajitas’, whilst the meat fries in the last step, pre-heat your grill. Cut 3 green peppers and 3 onions into eighths, and toss with a little sunflower oil.
Grill under a high heat until charred, but retaining a little bite. Allowing 2 flour tortillas per person, spoon in the carnitas, roast vegetables, some guacamole, chopped fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice.