You've probably heard of Mexican style carnitas, but have you heard of the flavor explosion that is Portuguese Carnitas (aka Vinha D'Alhos)?
One of the most obvious deviations from the process of making traditional carnitas, is that the preparation for Vinha D'Alhos calls for the cubed pork shoulder to take a dip for no less than four days in a spicy, vinegary, wine, olive oil, and garlic laden marinade-of-flavor-love.
After the initial marinating, the rest of the process follows a fairly similar trajectory for making Mexican style carnitas. However, I must confess, as much as I adore traditional carnitas, Vinha D'Alhos has been a game changer for me as the depth of flavor is spectacular. As if that wasn't enough, this recipe has made me the popular kid among those in the know. When I make it, I obtain a sort of rock star status, especially among my Portuguese friends who claim it's difficult to find anyone who knows the recipe. They state that if their grandmother isn't making it, they're simply forced to suffer without it.
1 cup really good quality Barrel Aged Red Wine Vinegar
1 cup good quality dry white wine
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup (optional) UP Certified EVOO
12 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup sweet or hot paprika (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 dried bay leaves torn
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
fresh ground pepper to taste
3 Pounds boneless cubed pork shoulder cut in 1" cubes, trimmed of excess fat
Place all the ingredients except the bay leaves, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and pork in a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. In a large sealable container, place the pork and add the marinade and bay leaves to it. Mix the pork with the marinade to coat well and refrigerate for 4 days.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Arrange the marinated pork cube in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast the pork in the upper part of the oven for 1 hour, flipping the pork after 1/2 hour so that all sides brown and caramelize. Lower the heat to 350 F. and cover the pan with foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the pork is fork tender.
Optional Step - with the remaining 1/4 cup of UP Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil, you can re-fry the pork. This results in a mind-boggling and absolutely spectacular crispy-crust on the exterior of the pork that is akin crisp bacon. However, the cracklings will have all the flavor of linguica. To take it this extra step, add the drained, oven roasted pork to a pan with EVOO set over medium-high heat. Brown the pork in batches until crispy. <=== This is like insanity here, so be prepared for your reality to be forever altered.
Serve with crusty bread and/or mashed potatoes slathered with all the lovely pan juice.
Alternatively, you can wrap the pork in foil and cook it over medium indirect heat on the grill. Uncover the pork after 45 minutes and allow it to brown on all sides.
Serves 6-8 generously