Tender and Crispy Carnitas

We love carnitas!  If we’re at a restaurant and it’s on the menu, we’ll order it.  Our favorite is from Lares in Santa Monica but it’s always such a trek getting out there.  I don’t know what it was about today that gave me this surge of ambition but I thought I’d tackle this great Mexican pork.  I have to say, I was nervous.  I didn’t follow a single recipe.  My estimates below are a little rough but should be close to what I used.  They were just heavenly!  Even my little picky eater gorged on these.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of pork shoulder – cut into 2-3 inch cubes, removing any big chunks of fat
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 can of beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, one for juicing and the other cut into wedges
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and loosely chopped
Garnishes:
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Lime wedges

Preparation Instructions

Drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil over the pork cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I refrigerated the pork over night but you can do this just a few hours before cooking.  Remove pork from fridge and let sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat up a pan using the rest of the olive oil and brown cubes of pork on all sides.  Be sure not to crowd the pan or it will have more of a steaming effect.  Once that’s done, lay out all the pieces in a baking pan and add orange wedges.  Using the same frying pan on medium heat, add the beef stock, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, squeezed oranged juice, and garlic.  Mix well and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes, then pour all over the chunks of meat submerging them 3/4 of the way.  Cover with foil and bake for an hour, then uncover and bake for another hour.

Most people cook the entire shoulder in one piece but I cut them into smaller cubes so you can get crispiness with every bite!

Once the carnitas have simmered to oblivion, remove them with tongs and lay them on a cookie sheet.  Pop them back in the oven on 450 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove, let them sit and settle in their new form of goodness for 20 minutes.  Shred with two forks and enjoy over some grilled tortillas with onions, cilantro, lime, and hot sauce.  Mmmmm.