Carnitas means “little meats” in Spanish. Many people think of the dish as Mexican Pulled Pork – which works for me. But it goes just a little farther than pulled pork by cooking the meat in its own fat as the last step.
I served my little meats with a pineapple salsa – cause I happened to have a fresh pineapple on hand. Corn tortillas are preferred over flour (but for my husband, I was nice and let him have a few flour tortillas). Traditional toppings are minced onion and cilantro, a squeeze of lime, Cotija cheese (queso fresco would work too) and maybe some Mexican crema (sour cream).
Adapted from egullet.org
- About 2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 “cubes. Don’t trim the fat – you’ll need it for the frying part. You can also use boneless pork country ribs (which is the same cut – but the meat is cut into strips).
- 1 chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
- 2 tsp chile powder (you can use chili powder, or an individual kind of chile powder – I had a few dried anchos laying around that I ground up and used).
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp oregano (preferably Mexican)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup tequila
- 1 1/2 T brown sugar
- Enough chicken stock to cover meat in cooking vessel (approx 3 cups)
Combine all ingredients for marinade. Cover and let sit a few hours (or overnight) in fridge.
When ready to cook, empty contents of pork marinade mixture into Dutch oven. Add cooking liquid (lime juice, orange juice, tequila, brown sugar and enough chicken stock to cover meat – approximately 3 cups depending on size of your Dutch oven).
Allow to simmer partially covered on stove top until liquid is gone, and fat is rendering from meat. Keep an eye on it and either cover, or uncover, or partially cover Dutch oven, and turn heat up and down as required to keep the liquid evaporating nicely, but not so quickly that it’s all gone before the meat is properly cooked and tender. Cooking time should be approximately 2 1/2 hours.
When the liquid is gone, and the fat is rendering from the meat, turn up heat and fry the pork cubes in their own fat. You may need to add additional fat to the pan to ensure proper browning.
Place cooked meat onto a baking sheet. Place sheet under broiler on high for 6-10 minutes or until meat is brown and crispy. Be sure to stir from time to time to prevent burning.
Serve with your favorite accompaniments: tortillas, salsa, onions and cilantro, sour cream, queso fresco, whatever you’ve got!
- Pineapple – diced
- Red onion – diced
- Cilantro – chopped
- Jalepeno pepper – diced (or if you are lazy, red pepper flakes – that’s what I tend to use)
- Fresh lime juice
- Salt to taste
Um, combine? Sorry to be vague – I have really no idea how I make salsa. I just chop up some ingredients in the proportion that looks good to me and stick it in a bowl. So basically, it’s mostly pineapple with a little bit of onion and cilantro. Could add some garlic if you so desire. Add some pepper flakes (I always have those on hand. A fresh pepper is preferred, but…I won’t tell). Finish with juice of one lime and a little salt.