The Dallas Dish of the Year: Pig's Head Carnitas at CBD Provisions

The dish you saw more than any other this year.
The dish you saw more than any other this year.
Catherine Downes

There could be only one. Many new delicious plates graced the Dallas dining scene this past year, but none of them were talked about as much at the pig's head carnitas served at CBD Provisions. No dish was posted with more exclamation points and stressed but joyous emoji faces, and no dish was captured and filtered through the eyes of Instagram more often. The pig's face was just short of becoming a Dallas food-themed meme -- everybody wanted a picture with it. Everyone wanted to show that picture off.

The chatter was obviously amplified because the dish in question was so obviously the face of animal. Its eyes are closed and in a restful state, and an ear stands up at attention. Depending on your pig's orthodontist, a tooth may protrude from its mouth. And all of this sits on a wooden board without emotion, until forks are taken in hand and the plate ceases to be a spectacle and instead becomes an amazing lunch.

Of course, there's much more to this plate than the shock value. Behind that face only a sow could love is tender fatty pork even a vegetarian would consider. The cheek meat is loaded with collagen, that lends a soft, slippery texture that's addictive. Meat from various parts of the head lend various textures but the skin across the entire head is consistently, exceptionally crisp.

Grab one of the tortillas served alongside and heap it with more meat than you think is prudent. And then spoon on one of the two salsas that also share the plate. There are radishes that add crunch, juxtaposing all of those soft textures, and when it all comes together you suddenly realize you're eating one hell of a taco.

In case you were wondering, the heads are cooked sous vide to bring them up to temperature, and then they're roasted at a low temperature, slowly, lovingly, all the while basted in the fat that renders from the head. That fat is what crisps up the skin that's been scored into hash marks, and protects the flesh beneath from drying out. The results couldn't get more attention on the Internet if a dancing banana and a carefully placed champagne coup was enlisted to help out.

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