Part four of Street Tacos.
IMHO, Carnitas is one the best things you can do with pork. Period.
You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) make it very often, everything in moderation and all, and yes it takes all afternoon in the oven. But there’s nothing to do except let it cook. There’s no actual work.
And the taste is simply fantastic. Your people will thank you.
Now, I have tried to create my own recipe for this dish. But in all honesty, the one I’m using today is from Chef John at foodwishes.com because I’ve yet to be able to improve on it. And I’ve even tried some of the more famous Mexican chefs recipes and this one still beats them all so far.
So, with my thanks and appreciation, here is his simple recipe that has never failed me.
I start with a pork shoulder (a.k.a. pork butt) from the local butcher that weighs in at about three and a half pounds. I usually end up trimming away about a half pound of excess fat, some of which I save aside for the dish and the rest I just toss.
Then cut the meat into roughly two inch cubes. The goal is to get all of the pieces about the same size. Given the natural marbling in the meat, you won’t be able to, but it’s a goal. This is so it cooks evenly so close enough is good.
Use your regular peeler on the orange, careful to get as little of the white pith as you can since it’s so bitter. Then squeeze in all of the juice. (Like I’ve said before, I use these inexpensive plastic peelers for almost everything. The blades do wear out but I suppose that’s why they come in 3-packs. I tend to order them once a year.)
Peel the garlic but don’t bother to cut it up.
Mince a couple tablespoons of the fat you set aside and then mix everything (all of the ingredients) in a big bowl until it’s all well-coated. Pour the mix into a 9 x 13 pan and even it out best you can. Try to make sure the orange peels, garlic, and bay leaves are distributed throughout the pan so the flavors get to all of the meat.
Cover the pan with heavy foil and seal it up tight. Put the pan onto a baking sheet because moisture will condense on the underside of the foil and find it’s way out.
Into the middle of a 275°F oven for three and a half hours. Low-and-slow to render out the fat from the meat. It will look something like this at that point.
Remove and discard the bay leaves, orange peels, and any undissolved garlic cloves. (Try spreading the garlic on bread, it’s incredible. No one has to know.)
Drain the meat and save at least a couple tablespoons of the broth.
Return the meat to the pan and drizzle those couple of tablespoons of the broth over it (you can discard the rest).
Then put the pan under the broiler for about five minutes to crisp up the exterior.
Remove the meat to a bowl with either a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon.
When you make the tacos, squish the cubes on the tortilla so they shred a bit.
You are going to love this one. It’s just that good.
Carnitas, slow-cooked and well-spiced, are a joy to cook, serve, and eat. One of our favorite things without a doubt. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon five spice
- 1 orange, peel and juice
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Trim the meat and cut into two inch cubes.
Mix well all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
Transfer everything to a 9x13 pan. Cover the pan with heavy foil and put it on a baking sheet.
Bake at 275°F for 3½ hours.
Remove and discard any remaining orange peels, garlic, and bay leaves. Save a couple tablespoons of the broth and drain off the rest. Return the meat to the pan and drizzle those spoons of broth over the meat.
Crisp under a high broiler for about 5 minutes.