We're back with another Puerto Rican classic--carne frita. These yummy fried chunks of pork are the perfect meat to pair with your favorite Puerto Rican starches, be it Rice and Beans or Mofongo. You're going to love it!
Normally carne frita is just deep fried, but sometimes I find that can result in tough meat. So instead, I'm going to show you a technique I learned from Yoamrie's grandpa, where we boil the meat first, to tenderize it, and then fry it to get it perfectly crisp. You'll love it!
2 lbs pork butt
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 tbs adobo
1 tsp salt
8 cups of water
You can make this recipe with a lot of different cuts of pork but my favorite is pork butt. Pork butt tends to have a lot of collagen and intramuscular fat. This can make your pork tough if you aren’t careful, but when cooked properly it helps keep your pork moist and tender, even when you are deep frying it.
Once you’ve got your pork, the first thing you want to do is tenderize it. Here I’m using a jacquard knife, which is basically a utensil with a bunch of needles that you use to repeatedly pierce the meat. If you don’t have one of these, just use a fork to stab the meat repeatedly, working side to side and turning the meat over. By repeatedly puncturing the meat, you are breaking up the muscle fibers so they won’t tighten up so much when you are cooking them. Additionally, by punching holes in the meat you are enabling the seasoning to penetrate deeper into the meat, making it more flavorful.
Once your meat is tenderized let’s cut it into chunks. I generally like to keep my chunks about one and a half inches by once and a half inches -- but feel free to cut your pieces bigger or smaller as you like. As you are cutting your meat, consider cutting off some of the bigger pieces of fat. I think some fat on your carne frita is ideal, but you also don’t want a huge chunk of it, as that might not be appetizing to your guests.
Once your pork is ready let’s prepare the seasonings. First go ahead and mince your fresh oregano. Again, I’m a big fan of fresh herbs here, but you can also use dried oregano if you want, just use about one third as much. Next go ahead and mince your garlic.
Now with all your seasonings ready, let’s combine it with our meat. Once added, stir it all together so your meat is evenly seasoned. Then cover your meat and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 30 mins to improve the flavor. However, if you are in a rush you can skip this step.
After your meat has marinated, pull it out of the refrigerator and add it to the pot you are going to boil it in, along with eight cups of water. Here I’m using an Instapot because I find it so easy to use. If you don’t have an Instapot you can also just boil your meat on the stove. If you boil it on the stove, just test your meat from time to time and stop cooking it once it’s tender.
If you are using an instapot, I like to use the “Meat/Stew” setting and set it for 25 minutes. I also set the valve on the top of the pot to the “Sealing” setting, in order to speed up the cooking.
Once your 25 minutes of cooking time are up, go ahead and release the pressure valve and let your pot rest for about 20 minutes. This rest time does two things. First, it allows the pressure to release. And second, it allows your meat to cool down a little and reabsorb some of the liquid it lost while cooking.
Once your meat is rested, use a strainer to remove all of your carne frita and lay it out on a tray lined with paper towel.
If your carne frita is still steaming at this time, let it cool down a little bit more, so it’s cool enough to handle. Once cool, use another paper towel to dry off your meat. Because you are going to fry this next, you don’t want there to be a bunch of water on the outside of the meat. If there is, the water will cause your frying oil to really boil up, possibly leading to the oil spilling. Additionally, it will lower the temperature of your oil, making your carne frita greasy.
Now on to the frying. In a deep pot, add enough oil to completely cover your carne frita and heat it up to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Because the meat has already been completely cooked, we want to cook it at a high temperature for a short period, in order to get it nice and crispy, without overcooking the inside.
Once your oil hits 400 degrees, add your carne frita in batches and fry them until they are golden brown, around 3-4 minutes. Again, they are going to cook quickly, so just check them from time to time.
Once your carne frita is golden brown remove it from the oil and you’re ready to eat. Just whip up your favorite sauce and you’re good to go. Enjoy!
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.