Boom Shacka Lacka!
These are a flavor explosion!!!!!
AND they can be made in an InstaPot (or crockpot).
ANNNNDDD They are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I am a pork carnitas connoisseur. Seriously, people should pay me to eat pork carnitas. I adore them and if they are on a menu – I will be eating them.
Pork Carnitas is simply Mexican Pulled Pork.
They are full of flavor, unbelievable moist and fall apart tender. Sometimes they are shredded like American pulled pork. Sometimes the pork is served in little wedges that are like perfect, miniature pork roasts. The outside is crisp and full of flavor, and when you dive in they are soft and moist and tender. They are almost always served with guacamole and pico de gallo. Accompanying them you will usually find their best friends: rice and refried beans.
Pork carnitas is always served with tortillas.
It’s funny because I’ve NEVER eaten them in the wraps. They always come with some little flour tortillas or corn tortillas but, I just hand them back and ask for more beans.
I like my carnitas with plenty of pico de gallo, heaping spoonfuls of guacamole and freshly squeezed lime juice. For a side, I’ll have the beans, no rice, thank you.
My mouth is watering just talking about it.
One of the reasons I am so quick to order the carnitas off a menu is because it is something I’ve never really ventured into making at home.
I have been experimenting with homemade pork carnitas I recently hit a Carnita-jackpot thanks to my newest love – The InstaPot.
There are a few tips that will turn your average pork butt (it’s actually a shoulder, y’all) into spicy, flavorful, crispy pork carnitas.
Here are the secrets:
- Cut the shoulder into 3-4 inch cubes BEFORE roasting – this provides more surface area to coat with flavor
- For crispy carnitas, the pork will be cooked twice (mental eye-roll). Who wants to cook dinner twice? Not me. I’ll be showing you Plan A (the easy one) and Plan B (the more authentic one).
- I hope you aren’t afraid of fat – because these dudes contain more than their share. Fat=flavor so I’m not surprised.
- Not too many liquids. Using too much liquid will end up creating a pork soup instead of moist wedges of delicious pork. Fewer liquids will create a REALLY flavorful juice that we can douse our pork with.
- To speed things up – use a pressure cooker (like an Instapot).
First, cut an enormous hunk of pork into 8-10 pieces.
Next, we need to make the seasoning for the pork cubes. This isn’t going to contain a bunch of extra spices that aren’t necessary. I want to keep this as simple (and flavorful) as possible.
Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl.
Pork Carnitas Dry Rub:
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 4 tsp cumin
- 4 tsp oregano
- 1/2- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Don’t worry if this doesn’t sound like enough flavors – the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, onion, and red peppers are going to send this over the top.
We are going to get personal with the pork now.
Put on a glove (if you don’t want to get season salt under all of your nails) and give the pork hunks a good massage. You want to rub the rub into the meat.
“Rub the rub.”
Words make me smile.
You will have some seasoning leftover. Just use what you need to rub the surface of all the meat and store the leftover dry rub to use on some blackened steaks later this week. 🙂
Drop the fully massaged, fully seasoned wedges of pork into the crockpot or pressure cooker.
Now, let’s chop!
Cut a large onion into big pieces and drop them into the pot around the pork. Peel and dice the garlic and add it as well. Mince the red chili peppers and sprinkle them in.
The fresh oregano goes on top. Isn’t this gorgeous?
Next, add the liquids. Add the juice from 4 oranges (about 3/4 cup), two limes (3 TBSP), and 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Just pour them over the veggies and meat.
Now it’s time to cook. In a crock pot, this will take 8 hours on low.
In a pressure cooker, it will take 1 hour on HIGH pressure (additional time will be needed for the pressure to release).
After the pork is cooked, use a ladle to remove the fat from the surface.
I let the fat solidify and then fed it to my chickens. This fat could also be stored in the refrigerator and used for future cooking.
One the fat has been skimmed, remove the chunks of meat from the pot and onto a baking sheet.
Look at all the flavor in there! You can see the specks of red pepper and the caramelized onions and the tender meat and the marbling –
You can go your own way here. You can eat this as it is (perfect and wonderful) or you can crisp up the meat and make everyone weak in the knees.
Plan A (the easy way)
If you want you can slap this onto plates next to some rice & beans & be happy.
Plan B (crisp up the pork before serving)
If you want to be authentic – you have another step ahead of you – the crisping of the pork. I believe most restaurants drop the whole chunks into a flash fryer (yeah, baby). I don’t have a flash fryer, fry daddy or want one.
So I am going to use a different method to crisp up my carnitas.
The pork can be left in little roasts & crisped up in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop in some oil.
OR you can broil it.
I am going to use a super easy method to crisp the pork!
First, use 2 forks to pull the pork until it is shredded. Next, lay it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Last, drizzle some of the cooking juices and shove the sheet into the oven on broil.
Now, I must warn you, don’t walk away. Don’t have a glass of wine. Don’t go separate the cows. Or you will burn your carnitas. Stay put and wait for the tips of the pork to begin to get brown and crispy (in places). This will only take 3-5 minutes.
Serve the carnitas with lime wedges, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, rice, beans, guacamole, and some fresh pico! Some folks like tortillas too, but I’ll leave that up to you.
- Homemade guacamole here
- Homemade pico de gallo here
- Homemade brown rice here
- Homemade tortillas here