Thursday, 21 February 2008

Carnitas

1 pork shoulder (or butt) - about
   4 to 7 pounds. 
1 onion - roughly chopped
8 whole peeled cloves garlic
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 12 ounce bottle cola
3 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Depending on weight of meat,
   about 10 - 20 corn tortillas



  • Remove meat from around bone. Cut into large chunks - anywhere from 3 to 6 inch pieces. Thick and meaty pork country style ribs (not the thinner short ribs) are a "no chopping needed" substitution, along with pork stew meat. 
  • In a large pot or slow cooker add meat. You can add or discard skin. 
  • Roughly chop one whole onion. 
  • Add onion and garlic to pot. 
  • Pour in 3 cups of water, orange & lemon juice, and a bottle or can of coke. 
  • Sprinkle on a tablespoon of dried oregano, plus 2 whole bay leaves. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • On your stovetop, bring the cooking pot to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer (low/medium heat) and cook covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for about another hour until meat separates easily with a fork.  If using a slow cooker, cook on high for several hours (4 - 5) until meat separates easily with a fork.  
  • Cook the Carnitas uncovered for one more hour so the broth reduces and intensifies and the meat becomes more flavorful.
  • The meat will contract and shrink as the broth cooks down by half, so you shouldn't have to add more liquid. Just make sure to rotate the meat and bone a few times during simmering so all sides evenly cook through.
  • When Carnitas are tender & the broth has reduced turn off the heat and allow the meat to just sit in the broth for 5-10 minutes.
  • Traditionally Carnitas are fine chopped and piled into tortillas. Just take pork pieces and chop them into small 1/4 inch pieces. You could also do the "pulled pork" method of using 2 forks to pull the tender chunks apart into strands. 
  • You can drizzle on some of the "pot liquor" or broth if you are storing the Carnitas to serve later. Or if you are keeping them warm in the oven, make sure to drizzle on plenty and cover, so Carnitas don't dry out. (Save the chopping until the last minute.) And save a couple cups of pot liquor. It's great drizzled over Mexican Rice or as the base for soup.
  • Place on soft or hard tacos, add chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce and salsa.