Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas…my choice anytime I crave Mexican food. Never made them…had to try. Browned…Braised…Broiled. The flavor develops at the beginning from browning the meat. The spices, vegetables and citrus take it to another level during the braising process. The quick crisp at the end…heaven! I was only available to get a bone-in pork shoulder butt that was just under seven pounds. I had about five pounds of meat after trimming the fat and cutting off the bone. This recipe makes a lot…as it should! Below are some recipe ideas using carnitas.
Cut the fat cap and any silvery membrane off of the pork shoulder. Cut into chucks and season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom (oven-safe) pot. I used this enameled cast iron pot from Lodge…click here! Brown the meat in batches. Try not to overcrowd the pot…you want a sear, not a cook. Reserve on plate or bowl.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Once all the pork chunks have been browned. Add the garlic, onion and bay leaves to the pot. Allow to cook for a minute or so. Add in about two cups of the chicken stock, the juice from the lime and orange, and about half the rind from each. You can also just dump the spent lime and orange in the pot. Season with the chili powder, cumin and oregano. For a bit of spice, I added a whole fresh jalapeño. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen up any browned bits. Add the meat back to the pot. Check the liquid level. You want the liquid to cover meat like in the photo below. You will need to add at least another cup of stock, or all of it. Bring to a boil.
Cover with lid and place in oven for at least three hours, or until the meat is nice and tender. About halfway through the braising process, taste the sauce. I did have to add a touch more salt. Remove from oven and discard the bay leaves and the orange and lime halves.
With a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot and spread out evenly on a pan. Using two forks, shred the meat just a bit. I like to see a few larger chunks. Spoon on a touch of the liquid. Place pan under broiler for about three to four minutes. As the meat is broiling, place the pot on the stove and start reducing the liquid. After four minutes, ladle on a bit more of the liquid on top of the meat. Place back under the broiler for another four to five minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
I decided to use my carnitas for simple tacos garnished with red onion, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. You can use in wraps, as a bowl with rice, on a pizza…the possibilities are endless. You may just want to eat directly off of the pan…it’s that good! I did serve my tacos with a side of my Mexican Rice and Mexican Corn Salad (a take on my Mexican Street Corn recipe). ENJOY!