I’ve been dying to make some carnitas ever since I received my shipment of meat from the Grass Roots Cooperative and it included a beautiful 3-lb pork roast shoulder. Truth be told, I’ve never attempted to make carnitas at home. I guess feeling like I wouldn’t be able to replicate a Mexican restaurant’s authenticity has made me hesitant to try it myself.
But quality meat (Falling Sky Farm) sometimes deserves to be cooked with a little risk-taking involved–stepping out of my comfort zone to prepare something truly special.
After scanning the web, I was able to locate this recipe.
Let me tell you, these carnitas ended up being one of the best dishes I’ve prepared in a long time.
The preparation is not at all difficult but does take time and a few different cooking preparations. First, cut the pork shoulder into large cubes. The cubes don’t necessarily need to be uniform, but something approximately 2-inches by 2-inches works well. You’ll be tempted to start trimming fat during this stage. Don’t!! That fat is the key to this dish. Next, sear the pork cubes on all sides in hot oil (takes about 5 minutes) and add the rest of the ingredients to a large pot. Bring everything to boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for almost 3 hours.
At about 2.5 hours of cooking time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the chunks of pork from the pot and place on a baking sheet. Take some of the reserved liquid and spoon over the pork chunks. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove … spoon more liquid on pork. Repeat this step 3 times (or 3o minutes). This part of the cooking process will create a crispy exterior, while allowing the interior to remain super tender.
Remove the baking sheet from oven and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes. Once the meat has cooled, begin to pull apart, separating (and discarding) and any large pieces of fat. Once finished, mix in as much of the reserved liquid as you see fit. The more, the merrier.
I served the meat on a corn tortilla with some fresh, diced onions and a little cilantro. It ends up eating like a very traditional street taco.
If you’re cooking for a larger group, feel free to use a much bigger cut of meat.