“Nothing says family like deep fried pigskin.” So said OC Weekly food writer Dave Lieberman upon our arrival nearby South L.A.’s Metro Plywood, a destination on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am – 5 pm for Mexico State style carnitas. A family sets up a well-worn cazo and a griddle and a small tented table and works its way through every part of the pig alongside bygone train tracks and across Slauson Avenue from a rusted factory. Ricas Carnitas Estilo Estado de Mexico, the unofficial name of the establishment, was a selection from Bill Esparza, the pied piper of tacos, a man who previously spotlit this stop for LA Mag and the person who assembled the roster for LA Weekly’s inaugural Tacolandia event in Hollywood.
The aforementioned pig skin, aka chicharrones, sat in a stack in the sun, and sold by the pound, and some people took sheets to go, wrapped in garbage bags, but the main attraction for most of us was carnitas, featuring assorted pig parts cooked slow in lard.
My picks were corazon (heart) and surtido (mixed parts, in this case, skin, stomach, and shoulder). Family members sliced and chopped the meat to order, crisped it up on a smoky griddle, and served the meat on soft, hand-cranked tortillas. Tangy salsa verde and spicier salsa roja waited in tubs that previously housed sour cream, along with a pre-chopped blend of cilantro and white onion. The heart was dark, a blend of burgundy and black, and carried a rich funk. The mixed pork provided contrasting textures, including fat, sticky skin and firm shoulder chunks. The vendor proved to be one of the better carnitas practitioners in town. Bonus: on weekends from 6 pm – 11 pm, the stand switches from carnitas to quesadillas.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.