How To Make An Insanely Delicious Feast Of Mexican Carnitas

    Step one: Buy so much lard.

    by , ,
    Photographs by Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed; design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Or, How To Make A Mexican Feast At Home In Gringolandia

    In Mexico, you eat carnitas when your daughter turns 15 or your father dies; when you graduate from college or you retire from the civil service. You eat carnitas, like I did, every Friday after school, at the same filthy-delicious taco stand owned by a silent taquero named Güero. And you eat carnitas the night before you set out for the north.

    I wrote an essay to go with this recipe about why I started making carnitas at home. But this recipe requires more than an explanation of my complicated emotional relationship with braised pork; it requires step-by-step photographs.

    Below you will find directions on how to make carnitas without access to Güero's giant copper vat or a whole pig or a tortilla-making machine or a well-stocked chile stand or decent avocados or juicy limes or any of the things that make life in Mexico wonderful. This recipe will tell you how to make something that approaches carnitas but will never really be the real thing, because the real thing only really exists in the memory of people who have left the old country.

    To be clear, this takes a full 24 hours: You have to soak the beans the night before you plan to eat, and the pork needs to simmer for 6-8 hours. During that time, you can get drunk, make two salsas, beans, and spicy green rice. And then you will feast. Also, most of it is appropriately (ie extremely) spicy, especially the green salsa, the pickled onions, the green rice, and the beans.

    Read the full essay here.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 1: GO GROCERY SHOPPING FOR INGREDIENTS. Here is a printable PDF of the entire grocery list.

    For the ingredients with an asterisk (*) like chiles and herbs, you may need to go to a Mexican grocery store. For the lard, call a butcher.

    For the carnitas, you will need:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    8 pound pork shoulder, de-boned

    2 pounds pork belly

    1 piece star anise

    2 tablespoons mustard seeds

    1 cinnamon stick

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    2 dried bay leaves

    2 sprigs dried epazote leaves* (or a big pinch, if they’re crumbled) (epazote is a Mexican herb, almost like an anise-y tarragon)

    2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano*

    kosher salt

    1 orange

    1 white onion

    1 head of garlic

    1 bottle of Mexican coke (or any cola made with real sugar)

    2 cups lard (you can get lard from a butcher but call ahead)

    freshly ground pepper

    For the smoky red salsa, you will need:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    5 medium tomatoes

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    5 dried chipotle chiles*

    ½ white onion

    10 garlic cloves

    5 dried guajillo chiles*

    For the tart green salsa, you will need:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    1/4 bunch cilantro

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    6 garlic cloves

    4 jalapeño peppers

    4 limes

    4 fresh serrano peppers*

    8 tomatillos*

    1 ripe avocado

    ½ white onion

    For the beans, you will need:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    1 tablespoon lard

    5 medium tomatoes

    1 pound dry pinto beans

    1 pound raw chorizo sausage

    2 dried bay leaves

    4 jalapeño peppers

    6 garlic cloves

    1 white onion

    (not pictured, but you will need: 3 cups chicken stock)

    For the rice, you will need:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    cups uncooked white rice

    12 fresh poblano chiles*

    1 tablespoon lard

    1 sprig dried epazote leaf

    2 bay leaves

    4 cups chicken stock

    ½ white onion

    4 garlic cloves

    For the spicy pickled onion and other garnishes:

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (clockwise from left)

    2 ripe avocados

    3 pounds small corn tortillas

    2 habanero chiles*

    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

    1/2 pound of chicharron (that’s fried pork skin, gringo)*

    1 red onion

    1 white onion

    3/4 bunch cilantro

    2 cups apple cider vinegar OR distilled white vinegar

    5-6 limes

    STEP 2: SOAK THE BEANS THE NIGHT BEFORE.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    The night before you make carnitas, put all your dry pinto beans in a large bowl or tupperware container, and cover them by about 2 inches with water.

    STEP 3: START MAKING THE MEAT.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Start by cutting your pork shoulder into rough 2-inch cubes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    (Leave all the fat on.)

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Do the same with the pork belly, but keep the two cuts separate.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Chop the white onion into rough 1/2-inch cubes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Heat a large (at least 3 gallon) stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then toast the ground cumin, mustard seeds, star anise, and cimmamon stick in the pot.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    As soon as you start to smell cumin, add two cups of lard.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Yes. Two cups.

    Let the lard melt completely and heat a little bit.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    If your lard was in the fridge it will be solid, so you need to give it a minute.

    Add the chopped white onion all at once, and stir it around.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cook the onion just until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add the cubed pork shoulder. (Don't add the pork belly yet.)

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Season liberally with salt and pepper.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    At least a tablespoon of salt, guys. At least.

    Meanwhile, cut the orange into slices about 1/2-inch thick, and peel the garlic.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Stir everything around so that the pork shoulder is coated in lard and starting to cook on the outside, about 5 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add the pork belly, bay leaves, epazote leaves and garlic cloves, then pour in the whole bottle of Mexican coke.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add enough water to cover everything.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Lay the orange slices on top.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat to get things started.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and half-cover the pot with a lid.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    The liquid needs to evaporate, but not too quickly.

    STEP 4: WHILE THE CARNITAS SIMMER, PREPARE THE SALSAS (STARTING WITH THE RED SALSA).

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    First, cut the stems off the dried guajillo chiles, then slice each one in half, lengthwise.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Scrape the seeds out, right into the trash.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    WAY too spicy.

    Do the same with the dried chipotle chiles.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, then add the dried chiles.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    There should be no oil in the pan, just the dried chiles.

    Toast, stirring occasionally, until the chiles are blackened on all sides, about 3 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Fill a medium pot about 2/3 of the way with water, and bring the water to a simmer. Submerge the blackened chiles in the water, then turn off the heat and let the chiles sit for 15 minutes, until they're mostly rehydrated.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500°F and put the tomatoes, half a white onion and the garlic cloves into the hot cast iron skillet.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Roast the vegetables for 15-20 minutes at 500°F.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    The tomatoes should be shriveled, the onion starting to soften, and the garlic brown but not burnt.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Transfer the cooked vegetables to a blender.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Remove the partially re-hydrated blackened chiles from the water, and add them to the blender.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of the water that the chiles were rehydrating in.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Blend! If there's not enough liquid to keep things moving, add a little bit more of the chile liquid.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Blend until the mixture is smooth and there are no large chunks. Transfer to a plastic container or a bowl, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 5: PREPARE THE GREEN SALSA

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Remove the husks from the tomatillos.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cut the stems off of the serrano chiles and the jalapeño peppers.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Fill a medium sauce pot about 2/3 of the way with water, bring it to a boil, and add the tomatillos, jalapeños, serrano chiles, half a white onion, and garlic cloves.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro by removing the dirty roots, then roughly chopping the leaves and green stems.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Blanch the vegetables until the tomatillos are soft and bright green, about 10 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Use a small strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the blanched vegetables to a blender.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add the chopped cilantro.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Halve the four limes, then juice them straight into the blender.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Dice a ripe avocado into rough 1/4-inch cubes. Don't add them to the blender yet.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and season with plenty of salt.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Blend just until there are no large chunks, then turn the blender off, and add the avocado. DO NOT BLEND THE AVOCADO. (Sorry our photo is misleading.) Transfer to a bowl or plastic container, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 6: CHECK ON THE CARNITAS.

    After the carnitas have been simmering for 2 hours, remove the orange slices and throw them away.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    If you leave the orange slices in for too long, they'll make everything bitter.

    Your meat should be starting to get delicious. Stir it once, just to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, then take the cover off and let it keep simmering.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 7: WHILE THE CARNITAS CONTINUE TO SIMMER, PREPARE THE SPICY PICKLED ONIONS.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Chop the red onion into a small dice, no bigger than 1/4-inch.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Thinly slice the habanero chiles, then mince them. You can leave the seeds in.

    Put the chopped onions and minced habaneros in a medium bowl or plastic container, then cover them with about 2 cups of apple cider vinegar OR distilled white vinegar, and some salt. Stir, and let the mixture sit out at room temperature until you eat.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 8: PREPARE THE BEANS

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Drain the beans that you've soaked overnight, then place them in a medium (at least 4 quart) pot or Dutch oven with half a white onion and bay leaves.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add 3 cups chicken stock and 3 cups water.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, cover the pot 3/4 of the way, and let the mixture simmer for 2 hours, until almost all the liquid is gone.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Meanwhile, prepare the sofrito. Use your hands to squeeze the chorizo out of the sausage casings, and break it into large pieces.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Chop the remaning half a white onion and 5 tomatoes into rough 1/2-inch cubes, and mince the garlic.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Scrape the seeds out of the jalapeños, and chop them into rough 1/4-inch cubes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chorizo and about a tablespoon of lard.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    When the chorizo is cooked on the outside and starting to brown (about 2 minutes), add the chopped onion, and stir everything together.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    When the onions start to soften, about 3 minutes, add the tomatoes, jalapeño and garlic, stir, and reduce the heat.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cook the sofrito for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are broken down and the onions are really soft. Then, add it to the cooked beans.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Stir it all together, and keep it in the pot until your carnitas are ready.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    If you need to, you can reheat it over low heat, stirring occasionally.

    STEP 9: PREPARE THE RICE.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Put the uncooked rice in a bowl or plastic container, and cover it by at least 2 inches with cold water. Let is soak for 20 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, and add the whole poblano chiles.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Let the chiles sit in the pan for 3 minutes, until they're blackened on the underside. Turn the chiles and repeat until they're blackened on all sides.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    This should take about 12 minutes, total.

    Put the hot, blackened chiles into a ziplock bag, seal the bag, and let the chiles sweat for at least 15 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    When the chiles are soft and cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board, and cut the stems off of each one.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cut the chiles open, lengthwise, and scrape the seeds out into the trash.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Peel the waxy outer layer of skin off of the chiles. It's OK if you can't get it all.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cut half a white onion into quarters.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    To make the cooking liquid for the rice, put the peeled poblano chiles, quartered half an onion, 4 garlic cloves, 4 cups chicken stock, and a tablespoon of salt in a blender.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Puree until it's smooth.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    By now, the rice has been soaking for long enough. Drain the rice in a colander or small strainer.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Heat a tablespoon of lard in a medium (at least 4-quart) pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the rice all at once.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Toast the rice, stirring occasionally, until it's golden.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Add the cooking liquid, bay leaves and epazote leaves.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes. Then, turn the heat off but LEAVE THE COVER ON. Let the rice steam for 15 more minutes.

    After 15 minutes, fluff the rice. It might be softer than you're used to, but that means you did it right. Transfer to a bowl to serve.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 10: BACK TO THE CARNITAS!

    After 6-8 hours,* when the liquid is almost entirely evaporated and the meat is falling apart, use a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl.

    *That's after you simmered them for 2 hours with the orange slices, so 8-10 hours total.

    Season the meat with a little bit more salt and pepper.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Preheat your broiler to high, and spread half of the carnitas out on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Put them in the broiler for 8-10 minutes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    They should get deeply browned and crispy on top, This will give the carnitas really great texture.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    STEP 11: PREPARE YOUR GARNISHES.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    To make the magical chicharron dust, put the chicharrones in a plastic bag and roll over them with a hard glass bottle.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Crush them until there is a mixture of coarse crumbs and powder.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Quarter the limes.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Remove about 3-inches of stem from the bottom of the cilantro, then coarsely chop the leaves and remaining stems.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Dice the two avocados.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Coarsely chop one white onion.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Finally, heat a large griddle or baking sheet over high heat on two burners of your stove. Add the tortillas in a single layer, and heat for about 2 minutes, until they're starting to blister on the underside.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Flip them, and do the same on the other side. You'll need to work in batches, so keep the warmed tortillas in a bowl or basket lined with a cloth napkin until you're ready to serve.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    FINALLY: Assemble your feast! Put a scoop of carnitas in a tortilla, then top with your garnishes of choice.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Just make sure you don't overstuff your taco.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    And gringo, this isn't a burrito. Rice and beans go on the side.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

    Exile's Carnitas

    Recipe by Nicolás Medina Mora

    Print this recipe.

    Serves 20

    For the pork:

    8 pound pork shoulder, de-boned

    2 pounds pork belly

    1 cinnamon stick

    1 piece star anise

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    2 tablespoons mustard seeds

    2 cups lard*

    1 white onion, coarsely chopped in rough ½-inch pieces

    10 garlic cloves

    1 bottle of Mexican coke (or any cola made with real sugar)

    2 sprigs dried epazote leaves (or a big pinch, if they're crumbled) (epazote is a Mexican herb, almost like an anise-y tarragon)*

    2 dried bay leaves

    2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano*

    1 orange

    For the smoky red salsa:

    5 dried guajillo chiles*

    5 dried chipotle chiles*

    5 medium, ripe tomatoes

    ½ white onion, peeled

    10 garlic cloves

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    For the tart green salsa:

    8 tomatillos

    4 fresh serrano peppers*

    4 jalapeño peppers

    ½ white onion, peeled

    6 garlic cloves

    4 limes

    1/4 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (leaves and stems)

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    1 ripe avocado

    For the spicy pickled onion:

    1 red onion

    2 habanero chiles*

    2 cups apple cider vinegar OR distilled white vinegar

    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano*

    kosher salt

    For the beans:
    1 pound dry pinto beans

    3 cups chicken stock

    1 white onion, divided

    2 dried bay leaves

    1 tablespoon lard*

    1 pound raw chorizo sausage

    5 tomatoes

    6 garlic cloves

    4 jalapeños

    1 red onion

    For the rice:

    2 cups uncooked white rice

    12 fresh poblano chiles*

    ½ white onion, peeled and cut in large chunks

    4 garlic cloves, peeled

    4 cups chicken stock

    1 tablespoon lard*

    1 bay leaf

    1 sprig dried epazote leaf*

    For the garnishes:

    1/2 pound of chicharron (that's fried pork skin, gringo)*

    1 white onion

    2 ripe avocados

    5-6 limes

    3 pounds small corn tortillas

    For the ingredients with an asterisk (*) like chiles and epazote, you may need to go to a Mexican grocery store. For the lard, call a butcher.

    Special equipment:

    1 very large (at least 3 gallon) stock pot or Dutch oven, for the pork

    2 medium (at least 4 quart) sauce pots or Dutch ovens, for the rice and beans

    blender

    PREPARATION:

    At least 12 hours before you start cooking:

    Soak the your beans: Put 1 pound of pinto beans in a large bowl or Tupperware container, and cover them with water by at least 2 inches. Let them sit out at room temperature to soak overnight, 12-24 hours.

    For the pork:

    Before you start cooking, you need to cut your meat. Start by cutting the pork shoulder into rough 2-inch cubes. The size doesn't matter so much, as long as all the pieces are pretty consistent. Leave all the fat on. Yes, all of it. Cut the pork belly into cubes the same size, but keep the cubed pork shoulder separate from the cubed pork belly.

    Heat a large (at least 3 gallon) stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the ground cumin, mustard seeds, star anise, and cinnamon stick.

    The moment the cumin becomes fragrant, add the lard. Two cups may seem like a lot, but push your lard tolerance as far as it will go.

    When the lard is completely melted and quite hot, add the chopped white onion. Fry the onion in the lard until it becomes soft and translucent, but not brown, about 3 minutes.

    Add the cubed pork shoulder all at once, and season generously with about a tablespoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. No need to work in batches or be elegant about it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the cubes of pork are coated with lard and starting to cook, about 5 minutes.

    Add the pork belly and whole garlic cloves, then stir everything together.

    Slowly add the bottle of Mexican coke, then add just enough water to cover everything. Add epazote leaves, bay leaves, and dried oregano. Give the whole thing a good stir.

    Chop the orange into thick slices and place the slices on top of the meat. Cover the pot and bring the braise to a boil over high heat. As soon as the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and half-cover the oven.

    Cook the braise for two hours, stirring it maybe once just to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. The less you touch the braise, the better. After 2 hours, remove and throw away the orange slices, otherwise they'll make everything bitter.

    Remove the lid and continue to simmer the braise, uncovered and over low heat, for as long as it takes for the broth to evaporate almost completely, the meat to become impossibly tender and the pork belly to become a glorious pig goo, about 6-8 hours more. There will still be some liquid in the pot, but it will be mostly fat. Which is delicious.

    In the meantime, start drinking and make the salsas, toppings, and side dishes (below).

    When you are ready to serve, use a slotted spoon or strainer to take your carnitas out of the pot while draining some of the excess fat. Fish out the leaves and the whole spices and throw them away.

    Preheat your broiler to high, and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

    Use a pair of tongs to toss and shred your pork, until you have little pieces of meat — carnitas. What did you think that meant, gringo?

    Take about half of the carnitas, spread them over a baking sheet, and broil them until they get crispy — 8 to 10 minutes.

    For the smoky red salsa:

    Preheat your oven to 500°F.

    Cut the top off the dried chiles, cut them in half lengthwise, and use a knife or your

    finger to scrape out the seeds. Throw the seeds away.

    In a cast iron skillet without any oil or lard, toast the dried chiles until they are lightly blackened on all sides, about 3 minutes.

    Fill a small sauce pot about ⅔ of the way with water, and bring the water to a simmer.

    When the water is simmering, turn off the heat and submerge the blackened chiles in the water. Let the chiles sit for 15 minutes, until they're soft and mostly rehydrated.

    Drain and discard all but half a cup of the water.

    While chiles are soaking, place tomatoes, white onion, and garlic cloves in the cast iron skillet. Roast in the hot oven until the vegetables start to blacken, 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

    While they are still hot, transfer the tomatoes, onion, and garlic to a blender. Add the chiles and about 2 tablespoons of the chile soaking liquid, then add the apple cider vinegar. Season with a teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

    Blend until there are no large chunks, adding a little bit more of the chile-soaking liquid if the mixture is too thick. Pour the finished salsa into a bowl or Tupperware container, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

    For the tart green salsa:

    Take the husks off the tomatillos and cut the stems from the serrano chiles and the jalapeños.

    Fill a medium (at least 3 quart) sauce pot about ⅔ of the way with water, and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the serrano chiles, jalapeños, tomatillos, white onion, and garlic. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos and the chiles turn a bright green and start to soften, 10-15 minutes,

    With a slotted spoon, take the veggies out of the water and place them in a blender.

    Cut the limes in half and squeeze the juice out of them, directly into the blender.

    Add apple cider vinegar and chopped cilantro, then season with a teaspoon of salt.

    Blend until everything is evenly combined and the salsa has no large chunks. Taste for salt, and add more if you need to.

    Pour the salsa into a bowl or Tupperware container. Peel the avocado and cut it into rough ¼-inch cubes, then mix the cubes into the salsa. Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

    For the spicy pickled onion:

    Chop the onion into rough ¼-inch pieces. Cut the stems off of the habaneros, then finely mince the flesh, leaving the seeds in.

    Transfer the mixture to a bowl or plastic container, and cover with distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Add dried oregano and a pinch of salt, then stir together just to combine.

    Leave the mixture out at room temperature for at least an hour before serving, so that the onions pickle slightly.

    For the beans:

    Drain the beans from the water in which they soaked overnight, and put the beans in a medium (at least 4 quart) pot or Dutch oven.

    Add bay leaves and half the white onion (peeled but not chopped) cover and bring to a boil. Add chicken stock and 3 cups cold water. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid ajar for as long as it takes for the beans to become tender, about 2 hours.

    Meanwhile, remove the chorizo from the sausage casings and crumble it into bite-sized pieces. Chop the remaining half of the white onion, tomatoes, and jalapeños into rough, ¼-inch cubes. Mince the garlic cloves.

    Heat lard in a large skillet over medium-high heat, the add the chorizo and fry until it's almost cooked through and starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped onion, and fry until it starts to get translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, jalapeño, and garlic, stir everything together, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the tomatoes are broken down and the onions are very soft, about 30 minutes. (This is called a sofrito, gringo).

    When the beans are nearly done, taste for salt and add more if needed. Remove the

    onion half and the bay leaves, then turn the heat up to high just to boil away the excess liquid, no more than 3 minutes.

    When you are ready to serve, heat the sofrito until it starts to sputter, then pour it over the beans. Give it a good mix, then serve.

    For the green rice:

    In a large bowl or container, cover the rice with cold water by at least 2 inches. Soak the rice for at least 20 minutes, then drain it into a strainer or colander and rinse until the water runs clear. Shake the rice in the colander to get rid of excess water.

    Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat, then add the poblano chiles. Let them sit in the skillet until the underside has started to blacken, about 3 minutes. You should hear popping noises. Turn the chiles and repeat until they are blackened on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Place the hot, blackened chiles in a ziplock bag, seal the bag and let them "sweat" for about 15 minutes,, until they are deflated and cool enough to handle.

    When the chiles are cool, slice off the stem and about half an inch from the top of each chile, then throw away the tops. Slice the chiles lengthwise so that they lay flat on a cutting board, then scrape out the seeds. Try to peel off as much of the gooey skin as you can. It's no big deal if you can't get all the skin off.

    Put the chiles in a blender along with the white onion, garlic, chicken stock, and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Blend until the mixture is a thin liquid with no large chunks.

    This is the cooking liquid for your rice. Set the liquid aside while you fry your rice.

    Heat lard in a medium (at least 4 quart) pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Dump in the rice and toast it, stirring constantly so that it doesn't burn. You want it to become the color of hay, like the hair of gringos from the Midwest.

    Once the rice is golden, add the blended liquid. Stir, add bay leaves and epazote leaves. Cover and cook over high heat until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, still covered, for 20 minutes.

    After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice steam for 15 more minutes. Do not take the cover off. If you like a slightly crispy crust at the bottom (which I do), leave the pot on the burner, even if it's off. If you don't, move it off the stove and let it cool.

    To serve, fish out the epazote and the bay leaf, then fluff the rice with a fork or spoon.

    For the garnishes:

    To heat your tortillas: Heat a large griddle or a couple of large skillets over high heat. Add a single layer or tortillas and cook until the tortillas are starting to blister on the underside, 1-2 minutes. Flip the tortillas and repeat on the other side. When the tortillas are heated, transfer them to a large basket or bowl lined with a towel or cloth napkin, to keep them warm. Repeat until all the tortillas are warmed.

    To prepare the chicharron dust: Put the chicharron in a large ziplock bag and roll over the bag with a bottle or rolling pin until the chicharron are crushed to a coarse dust. You will dust your carnitas with this glorious star powder. It has all the healing properties of unicorn horn.

    Coarsely chop the rest of the cilantro, leaves, and stems, and place in a bowl for people to sprinkle upon their tacos.

    Slice the avocado in impossibly thin slices.

    Cut the limes into quarters.

    Coarsely chop the white onion into rough 1/4-inch pieces.

    To serve:

    Serve carnitas with warm tortillas and all the garnishes. Rice and beans go on the side. DO NOT ADD CHEESE, SOUR CREAM, CHOPPED TOMATO, OR, GOD FORBID, LETTUCE. Why? Because if you were foolish enough to eat lettuce at el Guero's, you'd be setting yourself up for a weekend in the toilet. And we're going for the real thing here, right? Health concerns affect a cuisine, bro.

    A note on building tacos:
    Proper tortillas have two sides to them — one that is more resilient, and one that will peel away easily if you rub the tips of your fingers against it. The latter is the inside of the tortilla — it will absorb the pork juices much better, granting your taco more structural integrity. Lastly, you don't want to overstuff your taco. It's a recipe for disaster.

    Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed