Carnitas tacos with pico de gallo, guacamole, cotija & crema.

A perfectly created carnitas taco is one my favorite things in the world; it transcends all other pork preparations…..blah, blah, blah, you’ve heard it all before. Don’t all recipes start out like that? With a liberal smear of B.S.? Even my own recipes have at least a small dose of B.S.

B.S. aside, with pork there is little to say except that I LOVE PORK! What can I say?1? I’m unapologetic about my love for ribs, bacon, ham, prosiutto, speck, freakin’ pork rinds even! I cook pork because I like to eat pork! And Mexican twice-cooked pork shoulder is damn good. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and flavorful as all hell.

What follows is my best recipe for carnitas. I got some tips for this recipe from a good cook I used to know from the Yucatan. I don’t think it’s representative of carnitas recipes, but perhaps that’s what makes it so damn good!

Use this recipe for assembling your own tacos, tortas, burritos, tostadas, etc. It’s super-versatile. It takes a little time, but it’s totally worth it.

Fruit juice & spices.

You’ll need:

1 very large, heavy-bottomed pot
5 pounds of pork shoulder (butt, it’s called
somewhat erroneously)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pork chunks in the pot!

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 bottle of beer (I used Sierra Nevada this time, just ’cause I was drinking it.)
juice of two oranges
juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
4 cups chicken broth

Do this:

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Cut pork shoulder into 2-3 inch big chunks. Season the chunks generously with salt and pepper. Heat your pot over high flame. Add the oil until it’s smoking! Add your pork chunks and brown nicely all over.

Add your onions, garlic, sugar and all your dried spices. Pour beer over the pork. Let it steam for a minute to burn off a bit of the alcohol. Add juices and chicken broth. Bring up to a gentle boil.

Cover pot and put it into the oven. Cook for four hours.

Remove from the oven and allow the pork to cool for a while, perhaps an hour. Drain liquid from pork and discard. The carnitas are now ready to be cooked…AGAIN!

Add all your ingredients and add half a beer!

Cut cooked pork chunks into smaller pieces, about an inch or so in width. Heat a large skillet or heavy-bottomed saute pan over high. A good non-stick skillet is preferable, as the pork has a tendency to stick a bit. Now add a couple of tablespoons of veggie oil and heat until it’s just smoking.

Carefully add carnitas chunks to oil and brown all over until very crispy! Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Your carnitas are now ready for whatever. Like I said, I’m a taco guy myself.

Crispy carnitas ready to fill your taco!

2 thoughts on “Carnitas!

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