Pork shoulder and Boston butt are fabulous cuts for this favorite dish. First braised with flavors including orange juice, lime juice, and cumin, and then crisped up in a pan, carnitas delivers satisfaction in every mouthful. We serve it with corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, and garnishes such as cilantro, lime juice, and queso blanco.
- 4.5 pound bone-in pork shoulder
- Juice of 2 oranges, approximately 3/4 cup
- Juice of 2 limes, approximately 1/3 cup
- 3/4 cup stock or water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 2 medium onions
- 2 bay leaves
- Cut the pork shoulder into about 4 large chunks. Put all ingredients (including the bone from the shoulder) in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 3 hours.
- Remove the meat from pot and set aside. Strain the liquid into a large measuring cup, reserving the garlic and onion pieces. Skim the fat that rises to the top of the liquid and set aside.
- Pull the meat into pieces, discarding bones and excess fat. Chop the reserved onion and garlic. Return the meat to the pot along with the cooking liquid and chopped onion and garlic.
- Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add enough of the reserved fat to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Put enough of the pulled pork in the pan to cover the bottom. Be aware that the fat and liquid will tend to splatter. Press the pork down with a spatula. Brown for approximately 4 minutes. Turn the pork over, add more cooking liquid, and continue to brown. When the pork is nicely browned and a bit crusty (but not dry), remove from the pan and set aside, covered to keep warm. Repeat this process until all of the pork has been browned and all of the cooking liquid has been used.
- Return all the meat to the original pot to warm thoroughly before serving.
- Serve the carnitas with tortillas, cilantro, lime, queso blanco, and cabbage slaw.
The reduction and incorporation of all of the cooking liquid is an important factor in fully developing the flavor of this recipe. As you add liquid, the browning process will temporarily be interrupted. Stirring will assist in the reduction. After the liquid has reduced fully, desist stirring and the browning process will continue. How many times you repeat step 4 depends on the size of your pan and the amount of pork left after discarding the bones and excess fat. Add a roughly equal amount of liquid to each batch of browning pork so that you neither run out too soon or end up with an excess at the end.