Monday, June 27, 2011

carnitas tacos

yes, the next several months will probably be full of pork recipes now that we have a freezer full of local + farm fresh piggy. if you aren't a fan of pork (get to the doctor asafp. i mean, hello?!?! bacon? chorizo? pork butt?) then i do promise to sneak in a few non porcine recipes.

girl scouts honor.

tonight i made carnitas for dinner. carnitas are dead easy to make, the only catch is that you just need to put on your patient pants and wait 3 hours while it slowly bubbles away, filling the house with a mouth watering aroma. onion, garlic, a few spices and some orange zest thrown into a dutch oven with the pork shoulder and some chicken stock are all it takes to make miracles happen in your mouth.

p.s. i was so excited to sit down and get the tacos into my belly that i didnt take a pic of them. oopsy. so, there is no photo to tempt your eyes, but take my word, they are wicked awesome.


3-4 lbs pork shoulder or butt, cut into 5 inch chunks
1 onion, quartered
1T each cumin, coriander, oregano, chile powder and salt
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, crushed
peel + juice of 1 orange
about 2-3 quarts (or just enough to cover the meat) water, chicken stock or combo
2T canola oil or rendered bacon fat

put all ingredients (except oil) in a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot. pour in enough liquid just to cover the meat. cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low/med-low and simmer for 3 hours.

take meat from the pot and use 2 forks to shred it into bite sized chunks.

optional- place meat in a layer on baking sheet and toss with canola oil or melted bacon fat and bake at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until crisp in spots.

heat up some corn tortillas and pile meat, shredded monterey jack cheese, chopped onions, cilantro and salsa on them and chow down.

carnitas is also super good in a taco salad- lettuce, tomatoes, pinto or black beans, sharp cheddar, avocado and your favorite salsa with crushed tortilla chips on the top. yum! add a little sour cream or ranch if you are feelin' it.

here is an interesting article (complete with a scientific explanation of why the lard technique makes for a juicier final product) comparing the final products when you cook the carnitas in lard vs stock and a tasty way for a home cook to replicate the lard-cooked traditional (and super tasty) version without dousing the pork in a bucket of lard.

crockpot version
use the same amount of spices + salt but use less liquid since there is less evaporation when they cook in a crock pot versus in a dutch oven. i dont own a crock pot, but i read a few crock pot versions of this recipe and they used (on average) about 1 1/2 cups liquid in a 6 quart crock pot and then cooked it on the low setting for 8-10 hours. (thanks, c-lo for the tips!)


  1. do you think I can crock pot this?

  2. yes! crock the ish out of those carnitas!

    ive seen many crock pot recipes for this, the crock pot is perfect for this or even barbacoa beef. let me know if you make it and how it turns out, please!