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Carnitas

Carnitas


Mexican cuisine is one of my favorites and I often find myself craving those flavours that I like so much. Last week the craving were getting stronger and I satisfied them on the weekend by making carnitas. Carnitas is pork that is traditionally braised in lard on low heat until it is falling apart tender and then the heat is increased so that the pork begins to get crispy on the outside. This combination of moist and tender pork with a slightly crispy outside is simply amazing! The only problem is that cooking the pork in lard does not sound too appetizing. As an alternative, the last time that I made carnitas I simmered the pork in salsa verde until it was falling apart tender and then I shredded it and roasted it in the oven until it was nice and crispy on the outside. I then mixed the pork back into the remaining salsa verde.

The salsa verde carnitas were really good but I recently came across a new method of making carnitas on Homesick Texan that intrigued me. This recipe called for braising the pork in water for the first few hours and then increasing the heat and cooking it until the water had evaporated leaving the rendered pork fat. The pork is then cooked in the rendered pork fat, effectively frying the outside of the pork until it is crispy. The pork is then shredded and ready to go. Although this would probably still not be the same as cooking it in lard, it sounded like a great compromise that would have a very similar results and I just had to try it.

This way of making carnitas was really simple, requiring very little effort and just a bit of patience. I added some spices to the liquid while the pork was simmering to add some aromatics and a touch of flavour. The carnitas turned out great! I left them in fairly large chunks and they were nice and crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. What a great mix of contrasting textures. I will definitely be making carnitas like this again. I served the carnitas with tortillas, refried beans, guacamole and pico de gallo. I have been enjoying the carnitas all week and they have satisfied my Mexican cuisine cravings for now.

Carnitas

(makes 6+ servings)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
3 pound pork butt (cut into 2 inch cubes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water

Directions:
1. Place everything in a large pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil uncovered until the liquid has evaporated and the fat has rendered, about 45 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure that the pork turns golden brown and crispy on all sides.
3. Shred or cut the pork to the desire sized pieces.

Note: Can be used as a filling in burritos.

Similar Recipes:
Lighter Carnitas
Salsa Verde Carnitas
Chili Verde
Tacos al Pastor
Beef Rendang
Jerked Pulled Pork Wraps with Mango and Banana Relish
Cochinita Pibil (Puerco Pibil)
Cochinita Pibil Tacos
Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

68 comments:

Stout Ideas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef Fresco said...

Mmm this looks good! We love making mexican too - it's probably my most favorite dish. I like your idea of cooking the meat in salsa verde, we'll have to give that a try!

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

That looks great Kevin!

Jen said...

Damn you, Kevin! Stop passing on your cravings.

Melissa said...

Oh my do those look yummy! Great job Kevin!!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

That looks soooo good! We love, love, love Carnitas! I make mine in the crock pot sometimes.

Spryte said...

I LOVE carnitas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

zinke said...

Kevin...this is so random..I have been searching for canitas ALL DAY! I finally found a recipe and have just finished cooking it, when I came upon your recipe! Crazy...your recipe looks fantastic!

Daziano said...

Awwww The only thing I knew about carnita was that it means little meat in Spanish! Looking delicious!

Christina Kim said...

Carnitas is my favorite burrito/taco filling, but being cooked in lard makes me think twice. Beautiful photo, and I love the simplicity of the recipe!

Not Another Omnivore said...

I never really knew what a carnita was until now. Interesting. Noted.

NAOmni

Mead Chick said...

Looks really really good! I like the idea of using water and the rendered pork fat. Do you think a bit of bacon grease would add anything, or is the rendered pork fat all that's needed?

Kerstin said...

Yum! What a great example of how just a few great ingredients can come together for an amazing dish.

Nina Timm said...

This sounds sinful Kevin....but oh so good!!!!!

Julie said...

Oh my...this is definitely one of those leave me weak in the knees kind of recipes.
I copied your Irish soda bread, BTW...I'll be posting about it in a day or so :)

Elizabeth said...

Mmmm! Love the compromise of cooking it in water, then rendering the pork fat...looks amazing!

beachloverkitchen said...

wow!! this pork must taste good and delicious especially the fats part! love it!

Sharon said...

Yea, cooking with lard doesn't really appeal to me either! I love everything about carnitas, even the name :)

Esi said...

These tacos look amazing. I love the alternative to cooking with lard.

Ann said...

Tempting presentation..quite new to me

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That looks fantastic! Mexican food tastes so great!

Cheers,

Rosa

Elinluv said...

I have never eaten a mexican dish before...now my food horizon has widen becoz you make delicious looking mexican dish! Reading your past posts, you make even a simple dish looks good :)))

Culinarywannabe said...

Mexican is one of my favorites as well, and unfortunately, is the one category of food that is not represented very well here in nyc. Going to have to give this method a try.

Debbie said...

Looks wondeful and makes me want to cook something Mexican tonight!

Laura P. said...

I love carnitas! What I love even *more* are carne asadas...may I be so bold as to request you make some carne asadas sometime? : ) These carnitas look delicous by the way.

Karen said...

Yum, carnitas! I recently tried a new recipe that was very simple and delicious. Something about that small amount of brandy was like magic: http://verbatim.blogs.com/verbatim/2009/01/fingerlickin-good.html

www.crabbycook.com said...

Thanks Kevin,

I've always struggled to get the right flavor in Carnitas. I'm looking forward to giving your recipe a try.

Donna-FFW said...

Oh My! Looks like Heaven on a Plate! Cooking the meat in the salsa.. pure genius!

Su-Lin said...

It's been so long since I've made carnitas - thanks for the nudge! Yours look fantastic!

Anonymous said...

As a fellow Texan and lover of Carnitas, one of things my recipe calls for is using chicken broth in place of the water. I cover the pork roast with chicken broth, add cumin and an onion and simmer for a couple of hours. Once done, I shred and place on a baking sheet, crisping it up in an oven for about 10 minutes with the broil setting. Yum Yum!!!!

Paula

lisaiscooking said...

Sometimes I think I could eat Mexican food for every meal. Looks great!

elly said...

I bookmarked that carnitas recipe from the Homesick Texan too. These look so delicious. I could eat Mexican 5 times a week I think!

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

Another winner... Looks incredible

Ben said...

Oh carnitas! Pardon me if I put on my Homer's drooling face. Great job!

Maria said...

I am always up for Mexican!

Pam said...

I love carnitas but haven't made them yet - they look terrific Kevin.

KT said...

Well, which was better?? If you had to try just one of your 2 recipes, would it be this one or the salsa verde one? I like the sound of both! :)

Elra said...

The only carnitas I've ever tasted was from a Mexican restaurant. I thought it was uneasy to make. Glad you post the recipe. It seems very easy.
Cheers,
elra

Cheryl said...

That is just the way it is supposed to be! I love the carmelized meat!

Jeanne said...

OMG, I am SO making this!! I love carnitas and I love the idea of braising in water and then using the rendered fat to crips them up. Bookmarked :)

Jeanne said...

OMG, I am SO making this!! I love carnitas and I love the idea of braising in water and then using the rendered fat to crips them up. Bookmarked :)

Happy cook said...

I have never had mexican cusine tille now,
can salasa count as mexican cusien :-)
My hubby was in Texas last year and he really ejoyed the mexican fare there.

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

I have a love for Mexican food too. Ship me your extras. I don't want you to get sick of eating this yummy dish!

sampada said...

I am visiting ur blog first time..sounds delicious...i love mexican food..i never tried preparing recipes at home..definitely gonna try it...i always have a rough time to find ingredients...finally i have found a great resource www.myethnicworld.com where i can pass great along as well.

Suzie said...

I love the lof that meal. I will have to try your carnotas out soon.

duodishes.com said...

We don't cook with pork enough. There are so many good recipes to try...like this one.

Paula said...

Ooooh man, I want some carnitas! I used Homesick Texan's recipe as well, and was pleased with the results. I've also done it with chicken broth and liked that even better. What I'd really like to do now, though, is reach through the screen and gobble up the food you prepared. YUM!

Gloria said...

Look so nice Kevin! Gloria

Karen said...

Perfect! I can see the delicate crispness on the meat and it sure sounds better than boiling it in lard! LOL Street vendors seslling carnitas are a common sight in Mexicali... they're so good!

Kevin said...

Mead Chick: Bacon grease would certainly add flavour but there was enough rendered pork fat for the frying.

Laura P.: Carne asadas are definitely on my to try list. I was thinking about waiting until the summer to try them.

KT: I liked the texture of these carnitas better but the ones cooked in the salsa verde had more flavour.

Sophie said...

Kevin, this looks so delicious!!! Yummie yummie , give me sommy!!

Amy said...

That looks really tasty! The crispy part would be my favorite part of it!

lisamaria_cann@hotmail.com said...

Mmmm, Love carnitas! One of my faves!!

Helene said...

I'm so hungry looking at this beautiful plate.

Pam said...

I can never find good lard around here, so this is perfect. I love this method, I can't wait to try it!

Marie said...

That sounds and looks so good Kevin. I am a sucker for anything with a Mexican twang!

~RED~ said...

I made these a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I cooked the pork in the crock pot in beer. I didn't fry it after though. it was good just the way it was, next time i will do it your way and see.. thanks!

kellypea said...

Seriously wish I had some of this right now. Honestly. One of my favorites when it comes to Mexican food.

Eat, Play, Live said...

I made this exact recipe yesterday for a casual dinner party I hosted. It was fantastic and received rave reviews!

I also made Lisa's (Homesick Texan) recipe for Borracho Beans (on her website as Pinto Beans Three Ways). My husband and I enjoyed a big bowl of leftover beans for dinner tonight and they were even better than last night.

Both of these recipes are keepers for me. :o)

Bridgett said...

Oh wow, now this looks delicious. I could eat Mexican dishes each day.

Jan said...

Looks and sounds super, Kevin.

Deborah said...

Wow - those look amazing!

Culinary Cory said...

Yum. This would be a great recipe for a slow cooker.

Marsha Calhoun said...

Such a wonderful looking recipe! I always just season a pork shoulder roast and stick it in a 250 oven for 10 hours; when it has cooked enough to pull it apart (5 hours or so), I do so, and let the various bits crisp up. That way, no frying needed, and the fat drains off. But you don't get any added flavor.

Michelle said...

YUMMM I love carnitas!

Anonymous said...

I just made this recipe tonight from the Homesick texan website..which please note: did use orange juice as well. I also adde spices same as Kevin..let me tell ya, delicious

Anonymous said...

I'm making the recipe right now...just had a question. Should I cover the pot or leave it uncovered so the water can evaporate?? I hope it turns out! Thanks!

Kevin said...

Anonymous: In step 2 you leave it covered and then in step three it is uncovered. I will clarify that in the recipe. Thanks.

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