Thursday, August 23, 2007

Are there no decent Carnitas in this town?

OK, so, I've been in Seattle for over 4 years now. I have yet to have anything that I would call "decent" in the carnitas arena. And it's not just that it's not good -- they actually aren't so horrible, at some of the places -- it's just that they're not right! It's not the right thing. It's the right base, but not the right thing.

My definition of carnitas:
  1. slow cook some pork shoulder, with seasonings. (This part, at least some of them have figured out.)
  2. fry it (in its own juices, on a hot flat surface)! make the outsides crispy, darn it!
wikipedia gets it almost right:

Prior to serving, the pork is placed in fairly shallow pans to maximize surface area, then roasted at high (375 to 425 °F) heat for a few minutes to produce the famous alternating texture of succulent softness and caramelized crispness.

Emphasis my own. The only part that's maybe wrong is the roasting thing. Yeah, it's a dry heat. But not from anything like an oven; it comes from one of those big flat hot griddle things. With the big iron weight set down on it, too, unless they're just using the spatulas, to squeeeeze it into the perfection of cooking. After which it's slapped directly onto an otherwise-ready-to-go burrito that's quickly wrapped up (and not like they do it in Seattle, either -- they get that wrong here, too, everywhere I've been -- kinda close, but not quite right), and handed over for some serious yummy goodness.

If anyone knows of a place in Seattle that even so much as attempts this, please let me know. I miss my Taqueria La Bamba!. Anyone want to give me a big pile of money so I can hire those guys to help me start up a store up here? :-) I need my fix, and frankly, I need it more often than I go back down to the bay area.

On the up side, the Blue Water that's near me (and none of the others that I've been to as yet) do at least use that kind of griddle to very good effect for my regular order there: a steak & calamari burrito. I just wish they'd do up the Carnitas, as well. I keep asking the guy at the register when they're going to do it, but... alas, it hasn't happened yet. (Even though they do do (the feeble kind -- from steam-warmer-thing to burrito directly -- of) carnitas at at least one of their other locations, so it's not like they couldn't get the meat.)

Argh! I want carnitas! Help!


Laura said...

Do we dare try to make our own?

lindes said...

Sure, I'd be game. I did get some info at one point about a place that could maybe sell us the pork (already cooked (the first stage) and seasoned? I'm not sure), and we could go from there... and/or just start from scratch.

Still, I want to be able to go somewhere and get this stuff, too.