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Pork Belly Carnitas with Tomatillo Salsa

  • ACTIVE: 40 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS Plus overnight brining
  • SERVINGS: 8
  • MAKE-AHEAD

Pork belly, with its signature strips of fat, is an unusual and delicious choice for the carnitas here. The key to balancing the richness is serving them with this fiery tomatillo salsa, which has a surprise ingredient—fresh pineapple.

  1. 4 quarts water
  2. 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  3. 1 shallot, quartered
  4. 5 thyme sprigs
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  7. 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  8. 1 tablespoon sugar
  9. 2 pounds skin-on meaty pork belly
  10. 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  11. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  12. 1/4 cup minced pineapple
  13. 1/4 cup minced onion
  14. 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
  15. 1/2 habanero, seeded and chopped
  16. 1 cup cilantro, plus more for serving
  17. Warm flour tortillas, chopped white onion, and Petty Cash Guacamole, for serving
  1. In a pot, combine the water, garlic head, shallot, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the pork and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat the broiler. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatillos with the canola oil. Broil for 20 minutes, stirring, until the tomatillos are softened and nicely charred. Scrape the charred tomatillos into a blender. Add the pineapple, crushed garlic cloves, onion, serrano and habanero chiles, cilantro and the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar; puree until smooth. Season the tomatillo salsa with salt.
  3. Reduce the oven to 350°. Bring the pot with the pork to a boil over moderate heat. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until the pork is very tender.
  4. Transfer the pork to a work surface and cool slightly; discard the liquid. Thinly slice the pork and serve with the salsa, tortillas, chopped white onion, cilantro and guacamole.
Make Ahead The salsa verde can be refrigerated overnight.

Suggested Pairing

Try these carnitas with a Southern California beer. Alcohol drives up the heat of the salsa, so choose a lower-alcohol beer, like Green Flash's Saison Diego or Ballast Point's Longfin Lager.