Carnitas make for one of the best taco fillings: slow braised pork, shredded and then crisped up before serving, is perfect unadorned in a warm corn tortilla. But what if you're looking to take it up a notch? In Pati's Mexican Table, Pati Jinich presents a different version of braised and shredded pork, this time fancied up with orange juice and a fragrant, tangy ancho chile sauce. With a generous pour of apple cider vinegar, the finished dish tastes almost like Mexican pulled pork—and I wouldn't consider that a bad thing.
Why I picked this recipe: Carnitas are one of my favorite taco and burrito fillings, so it was a no-brainer to try this chile and citrus-laced take on shredded pork.
What worked: Ancho chiles and oranges are a match made in heaven; tender pork shoulder makes it all the better.
What didn't: I needed more like an hour of simmering time on the pork to turn it tender, so I added about 1/3 cup more water and juice to the pot to keep things going. Don't clean out the pot once you've cooked the pork; the rendered fat and juices left behind will help flavor the sauce.
Suggested tweaks: Jinich offers the suggestion to prepare the sauce with braised chicken instead of pork, should you prefer poultry. Be sure to use bone-in, skin-on pieces (preferably dark meat) to keep things moist, tender, and flavorful.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.