Taco Chronicles (2019–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Carnitas - full transcript

I am a star.

That is why I spend so many hours
under these lights,

so that you won't miss a detail
of my crispy, golden outside

and my soft inside.

I'm the bridge connecting both continents.

I know where I come from
and it hasn't gone to my head.

I can never resist eating a taco
whenever we come here.

You could eat these carnitas
even if you were not hungry.

Timely, every morning,

from the boiling pot
to the plaza and the market

I'm waiting for you to arrive.

It tastes like heaven.

Just upon smelling,
you feel like eating a taco.

They are very tasty,
their flavor is unrivaled.

When you take a bite,
the oil from meat's oil drips down.

And when you make a taco with
a tortilla and add the chile,

salsa and lime,

well, it's very, very delicious.

It's one of our country's
most emblematic dishes.

You can't stop eating them. That's it.

All I need is my pot, my table,
to make magic.

I can make anyone fall in love.

So, I am the carnitas taco.

Miss, fancy a taco?

These are low-fat carnitas,
they won't make you fat.


Carnitas are one of my favorite tacos,
if not my favorite one,

because of how the pork is prepared.

If we could make a parallelism
with cooking techniques,

a carnitas taco
would be a pork confit taco.

The pork is slow-cooked
in its own fat, in lard.

All of this intramuscular fat

melts in between its meat,

and when we put it in our mouth,

our palate processes it through our brain
as this delicious flavor.

Carnitas are perfect.

You take a tortilla, make a carnitas taco,

add home-made chile peppers,
pickled chiles,

with some carrots.

It tastes like heaven.

A carnitas taco tastes like heaven.

Imagine a tray with meat,

steaming-hot, straight out of the pot,

and the steam fogs up the glass,
under the lights.

A delicious combination of flavors.

For me, the perfect combination
in a carnitas taco

would be a balance in textures
of different types of meat.

Meaning, something that gives you a nice
base like lean meat or meat from the ribs,

then something that gives you a bit of
fat, that sticky-sweetness, like the skin.

If you add a bit
of crispy pork cracklings,

onion, cilantro, salsa,
a little bit of lime,

you're good to go.

The oldest document
that we have about carnitas

is almost 500 years old.

Pigs are not native to the Americas,
but Christopher Columbus brought them

and left them at La Española.

Later, Hernán Cortés brings them
from Cuba to Mexico.

As the story goes,
in 1521, Hernán Cortés,

to celebrate with his captains
the occupation of the city of Tlatelolco,

the fall of the Aztec Empire,

organized a huge banquet
in the palace in Coyoacán.

He had the pig butchered

and cooked it in its own lard,
which is what he had on hand.

This, accompanied with
the Tlaxcalans' corn bread,

was the birth of the carnitas taco.

This is what is documented about
the origin of the carnitas taco.


the origin of carnitas
as we know them today is in Michoacán.

I was born in Mexico City,

but we all know that home is
where our heart feels loved,

and my heart is where
I became famous,

where they make me shine.

The fattiness of carnitas
is what makes them tasty.

You add the meat and condiments
while holding it with your hand.

♪ "The taco that I was about to eat
I would give to you

A bottle of beer can always be shared

You won't die in fight
With your girlfriend

But you know that I am here

And I know that
You would do the same for me" ♪

Carnitas tacos...

I don't mean to brag, but
Michoacán's carnitas are the best.

Michoacán-style carnitas

are envied by the rest of Mexico.

Our technique is different, unique,

and it attracts tourism.

It is not a coincidence
that they are from Michoacán.

Michoacán has a very strong pork culture.

And they also have these

huge copper pots
where carnitas are cooked.

People fight over which pot
is best to cook me:

copper or steel.

Modern versus traditional.

The copper pots that we use

we choose because they are
advantageous for the cook,

enabling them to give
the perfect touch to the dish,

and because they give carnitas
a more intense flavor.

The copper pots
are manufactured traditionally

in Santa Clara del Cobre,
here in the state of Michoacán.

This is Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán.

municipality of Salvador Escalante.

I've been doing this for fifty years.

My father worked manufacturing pots
for seventy years,

the traditional way.

He was taught by his
grandparents and great-grandparents.

There used to be about
40 traditional foundries.

But nowadays,
with die-cast and turn,

and the use of the lathe,
workshops are no longer traditional.

They use machines for
many parts of the process.

Butchers say that the pots that we make

make carnitas taste better

and they are better cooked.

Because one of these pots,
over low heat,

will start boiling,
and it will keep on boiling,

and the meat will cook evenly.

I won't change my workshop,
what I've learnt.

We learnt from our ancestors,
how could we let it go to waste?


Using a copper pot

is an essential part of the
traditional carnitas preparation.

At Carnitas Cortés,

we feel that this is where
the value of the dish comes from,

the authentic dish that is carnitas.

My family started this business
over 30 years ago

using top-quality ingredients,

using copper pots,
using what we call "mother lards"

and sticking to the
basic traditional ingredients

that have been used for a long time
here in Michoacán.

The first step is sealing the meat

so that it will get a nice consistency.

For this first stage,
the temperature must be

between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then we take the meat to the next pot,
where it will get braised.

The cooking pot must be
at 195 degrees Fahrenheit

tops, more or less.

Once the meat is there,
it is cooked for about

two or two and a half hours.

We begin with the leaner meat,
which would be pork loin,

pork leg,

then we cook the hocks,

the belly,

then the ribs,

and then, at the end,
we cook the maw and the rinds.

I'm going to add salt.

The meat is now ready.

For us who live in Michoacán,

eating a carnitas taco means

indulging in a sinful pleasure.

And it's comforting.

That sweet flavor of carnitas,

the pork's juicy texture,

is something that we really like. Yes.

Perhaps the best thing about
a carnitas taco

is that you get to eat every part
of the pork. It's your choice.

The best thing about this animal
is the broad variety of flavors.

A piece of tongue, cheek or ear

for people who know about carnitas,

would make them fall in love.

I'm a pig in all its splendor.

My meat is cooked in my lard
for many hours,

and, at the same time, I am
a wide range of shapes and textures.

Let me grasp some air,
because I am also:

snout, cheek, lungs, ears,
tongue, heart, shoulder,

hock, belly, kidneys, uterus,
intestines, spleen, brain, eyes,

sweetbreads, liver, testicles and tail.

I am all of that.

The possibilities that pork offers
in a carnitas taco

is what makes it,
in my opinion, the king of tacos.

We work the traditional way.

It's about learning how to play with

the very essence of pork,

which, I believe,
is the world's most flavorful meat.

We try to give it a special treatment
for it to remain juicy.

This is what distinguishes
Carnitas Don Raul from everyone else.

Ours is not just a business.

For me, this is an art.

I find it offensive for a person
who has cooked a stew

to take the liberty of grabbing
and shredding the meat,

like most of the people
who do this for a living do.

Then I gave myself to the task
of finding lines,

doing cross-cuts,

to give our meat
nice consistency and texture.

If you see me work, you'll realize
that I touch the meat the least possible.

My knife does the work.

I hardly use my hands,

except to debone

and separate the meat
that has already been cut

being careful not to hurt the meat,
or the meat's identity.

This way you can't say:
"This is not pork hock," or whatever.

I can show you that it is.

It is hard, because our culture

expects a strong, qualified male
to do all of this,

but my daughter proved me wrong.

She had to step up and tell me:

"I'm going to learn from you,
you'll teach me."

Carnitas and I...

I mean, we are

a perfect combination.

The first thing that we make here:

the salsas.


lying on the tortilla,

I wait for the final step of this process:

being bathed in salsa.

Every person has a favorite,
and I respect their choice.

Just, please,
do not deny me that pleasure.

You can all the salsas within one taco:

Mexican salsa, onions with perón chile,

a few drops of green salsa,
a few drops of red salsa,

chiles in vinegar, so good.

People's favorite salsa
is a tomato-based salsa,

the red salsa.

They also like green salsa a lot.

I'm peeling garlic cloves
for the red salsa.

To make 4 gallons of salsa,
we use five heads of garlic.

Now we're adding the salt.

I don't measure the salt because we know

how much salt it needs.

Now were adding the roasted chiles.

We will check the salsa's consistency

and we'll decide
when to stop adding water.

We don't want to blend it too much,
we want it to have a certain consistency.

Now I'm blending the green tomatoes.

The same, not too much.

The red salsa is now ready.

They are about to take it down
to the restaurant.

There is a reason why
we have these accompaniments.

The carnitas taco tends to be
a bit unctuous due to its components.

The collagen in the skin
can make it somewhat fatty,

it may stick to you lips,
which is delicious.

The thing about adding lime,
some kind of brine,

some nopales, radishes,

or some pickled vegetables

is to cut the fat.

This way, you'll finish the first taco and
crave for a second and then a third one.

Getting recognition from a client,

even if this customer had only one taco,

is the best thing that can happen
to me, it makes my day.

"That was a great taco, Mr. Raúl."

♪ "Oh, Uruapan

Oh, Uruapan

You are the pride

Of Michoacán

Oh, Uruapan

Oh, Uruapan

You are the pride

I will never forget you

"As de Oros"

At Juárez Avenue

I recommend you, gentlemen

To try the carnitas

So good they are

That's it!" ♪

And please give me some fat,
some lard.

In a plastic bag. Can you sell me some?

- Lard?
- Right, lard.

- Sure thing.
- Great.

I buy our carnitas at As de Oros,

at Juárez Avenue.

They make really good carnitas.

We love their product,

that is why we consider it is
very important to include it in our menu.

We are in Uruapan, Michoacán,

at Cocina M restaurant.

This dish is called "carnitas gyozas."

It's one of the first dishes
that we created for the restaurant,

it's one of the best selling dishes,

people really appreciate it,
and we are thankful for that.

Mariana proposed this to me.

"Why don't we take your carnitas
and give them a gourmet touch?"

They added tamarind, sweet potato
and I don't know what else.

The fusion of As de Oros' carnitas
with Mariana's Cocina M was awesome.

We take the carnitas and chop them,

adding cilantro and onion.

They are seasoned with their own lard,

to give the meat
a punch of flavor and moisture.

Then we make the wrappers.

What we do is, using just a little water,

we add the filling

and then we shape them.

They are cooked in water.

One side is seared in a saucepan.

We try to respect certain things.

For example, we highlight
the sweetness of the confit of carnitas

using sweet potato purée.

The acidity provided
by a salsa or lime juice

is replaced by tamarind.

It's adding some twists
in terms of flavor and color

to a dish while respecting its identity

and the flavor of the pork
that defines carnitas.

Like a star that guides travelers,

there's a place on the map
that attracts connoisseurs.

A destination luring pilgrims
with the aroma of tradition,

a spot that generation after
generation of taco makers

have transformed into a place
of learning and secrets.

It's the Quiroga market.

Quiroga is the capital city of carnitas.

They have become really famous
making the best carnitas.

We are number one
in Quiroga, Michoacán, Mexico,

the world's carnitas capital.

My friends, don't let us down,
come visit us.

We are in Quiroga, Michoacán.

The best place for carnitas: Quiroga.

It's all about carnitas around here.

Everyone wants you to try their carnitas.

Ma'am, do you want to try them?
Come on, you can have some.

Try them, please. Try them, come on.

Come on.

People who make them at the market
are usually experts,

not only meat experts,
but they are also very kind,

they invite you, "Come try my carnitas,
these are very good,

"these are crispier."

That's when you feel like buying
from one person versus another.

There you go, try this.
I saw someone out of the corner of my eye.

Here, try this.

Come on, who else wants some?

We have ribs, tongue,

liver, for those of you
who are heavy drinkers,

you could use some of this.

This is leg, and don't forget,
this is pork belly.

The famous pork skin is over here.

Do you want one?
Just look at this, so tasty. Don't forget.

There's a nice rivalry.

Like, "my tacos are better
than those over there."

"Those are terrible.
I mean, horrible." Right?

If you come to Michoacán
looking for carnitas,

Mr. Jaime Ayala is the best
of the best around here.

Look for me a little later
and we'll see if I'm not so busy.

Okay? He'll give you our number.

Can you get me a kidney and skin taco?

- With chile peppers. How much is it?
- Fifty pesos. With chile peppers.

This man is one of the best.

He is the best at making carnitas.

It's beautiful.

He is the only one selling right now.

From now until he leaves.

When he leaves,
the others start selling. Look.

The other stands are empty.

But look at his. Look.

People prefer those carnitas

because they are really tasty.

If you want another tortilla, just ask!

This is how we work.

We serve crowds, that's right.

But we usually just come
and deliver, we don't sell.

Each one of us works differently.

We all have our own style.

That's right.

We work the way we were taught
in the old days.

Most of all, I am satisfied with my job.

But my greatest satisfaction
is feeling the people's approval.

People find us, they support us.

That's what counts the most.

We are cleaning up
and we're taking this home.

Back home we wash everything.

Once the pot is empty
and people are no longer hungry,

my job is not over yet.

Quite the opposite.

I wait for the last bite to be eaten

to go back once more
to the place where everything begins.

To Don Jaime's expert hands.

We are about to be five generations

in this trade.

And my trade is carnitas.

It's a lifelong process.

I get up at 3:00 a.m., 2:30 a.m.

to begin working.

This is pork tripe.

Small intestine.

I really like tripe.

Some people think this is an easy job.

But spending half your life

virtually sleepless...

Our hours of rest are very few.

Sometimes in life we need

to lack something, to be in need,
to suffer a bit.

This is how you value your job,
this is how you value people.

And this is also how you value life.
Isn't that right?

For whatever reason,

sometimes things don't turn out
the way you want them to.

And I am always rectifying.

I've been making carnitas
for over fifty years

and I am still learning how to do it.

I still have new experiences every day.

I want to invite


to give themselves the chance
to come to Michoacán,

to try a carnitas taco,

and to go all over

this thousand-year-old culinary tradition.

In order to have me,
you have to work really hard.

But fear not: the reward is huge.

I will compensate you.

If I'm taken care of and pampered,

if I'm treated right,
I won't let you down.

A whole state endorses me,

a whole country longs for me,
and here I am,

gladly, today, tomorrow,

and whenever you want.

Always a taco, above all.