One Pot Carnitas

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Introduction: One Pot Carnitas

About: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to my classroom (when appropriate) where I teach 6-12th grade English, Social Studies, and STE…

I love a good carnitas burrito, but I started running into more and more flavorless and wicked greasy carnitas burritos that just were not working for me. So I started researching how to make my own carnitas and it turns out, it's pretty easy. All you need is pork, orange juice, and some seasonings. I've made this recipe several times, each time making minor adjustments (usually trying or omitting a seasoning, I have NOT been brave enough to try orange soda or coke yet). I tend to buy a 4-6lb piece of meat so that my husband and I can eat it for lunch/dinner throughout the week and not have to worry about the dinner dilemma. Carnitas is very customizable so one night we might do tacos, the next rice bowls, burritos, etc.

Carnitas is usually made with pork butt (also called pork shoulder) because it can be cooked low and slow and still turn out super juicy and flavorful. This cut has a higher fat content and while cooking, the fat melts into the meat making it juicer. At the end of your cook time you should have a super tender and easily shreddable piece of meat (the meat should literally fall apart with you check it with a fork---this is a good way of knowing it's ready).

Pork butt is usually cheaper, but when I went to the store it was actually twice the price of the center cut pork roast that was on sale----so I made an executive decision and bought the cheaper cut, knowing that this cut of meat is leaner and not what is typically used. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that following my usual cooking steps resulting in the same tender and juicy meat.

Supplies

Carnitas

4-6lb pork butt or pork shoulder (skinless, with fat cap on)

1 onion3-4 cloves diced garlic

1 jalapeno (more if you like, it doesn't make the carnitas spicy)

1-1/4 cup orange juice (the meat will not taste like orange)

1 tbs Sea Salt and pepper

1-2 tbs Olive Oil

1/2 tsp cumin (optional, I haven't noticed a huge difference with or without)

1/2 tsp oregano (optional, I haven't noticed a huge difference with or without)

1-2 cups of water

For Tacos/Burritos

Soft tortillas or hard shellsSour cream1 diced tomato

1/2 cup shredded lettuce (I use spinach)

1 avocado

1 lime

Shredded cheese

Pickled red onions

For Fajitas

1-2 bell peppers, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1/2 lemon or lime

1/4 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp hot sauce

For Rice Bowls

1 diced tomato

1/2 cup shredded lettuce

Spanish or yellow rice

Diced avocado

Step 1: Prep

Slice and dice the onion, garlic gloves and jalapeno and set then set aside.

Step 2: Seasoning

Rub the pork all over with salt and pepper. In a small bowl add the olive oil, cumin, oregano and mix together. Use a brush to get the seasoning all over the pork and then put in the roasting dish. Cover with the onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Also, this is when you want to add the orange juice and 1-2 cups of water to bring the liquid up around the top of the meat (doesn't need to be covering).

Step 3: Roast

Wrap the roasting dish tightly with tin foil, the tin foil helps with preventing the pork from drying out.

Cook at 300-225 degrees for 2-2.5 hours and then remove the tin foil and cook for an additional 60-90 minutes.

You want the pork to have an internal temperature of 145 degrees, that's when it is safe to eat.

Step 4: Shred

You'll know the meat is done because it will literally fall apart if you poke at it with a fork. Remove the meat from the roasting pan (reserve the juices in a separate container for later) and continue the shredding the pork. I found the center cut roast to shred just as easily as porkbutt.

Step 5: Tacos, Burritos, Fajitas, Rice Bowls

Tacos and burritos basically have the same toppings, except I'll make Spanish or yellow rice to go in the burritos and we usually use hard shells for tacos.

If I know we're going to do fajitas one night, I'll slice a couple bell peppers and an onion and put them in a plastic bag to marinate with lemon/lime, olive oil, and hot sauce for a couple hours. When I'm ready to cook, I'll put the peppers and onion into a preheated skillet on high heat and cook for a couple minutes. I also like to add an extra splash of citrus after the veggies are done.

Rice bowls, again, I'll make Spanish or yellow rice and will add chopped avocado, tomato, and sometimes Trader Joe's Chili Lime seasoning on top. I don't usually put cheese or sour cream in the rice bowls.

Pickled red onions I'll put on everything.

Step 6: Crispy Leftovers

The pork and the juice should be kept in separate containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. OR you can freeze both, separately, for up to 2-3 months. If you freeze, I'd put the juice into multiple containers or plastic bags that way you don't have to use all of it at once. Do not re-freeze.

For subsequent meals, reheat the carnitas in a frying pan with a little reserved juice. This not only warms the meat, but also gives it a nice crisp.

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    9 Comments

    0
    bbqandbeer
    bbqandbeer

    Tip 10 months ago

    Do yourself a solid, use a real orange. Squeeze the juice into the pot and toss the rest of the orange in there too. Also, add an orange soda, its wicked good!

    0
    brownart
    brownart

    1 year ago

    I have to try your recipe. The crispy leftovers sold me!
    Thanks for posting.

    0
    Not_Tasha
    Not_Tasha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks!

    0
    shalnachywyt
    shalnachywyt

    1 year ago

    I've made something similar. Whenever I slow cook meat in a crock pot I always add some wine which acts as a tenderizer even for leaner meats. The alcohol boils away and you're left with incredible flavor.

    0
    mikesmithfl
    mikesmithfl

    1 year ago

    I've tried for a long time to cook a good carnitas but never got around to looking for a recipe before. Your pictures caught my attention BIG time! I never knew about the citrus ingredients.

    Thanks!

    0
    DGCInfoKitty
    DGCInfoKitty

    1 year ago

    I have a vegan no-fried food dad. Is there a meatless version for him???

    0
    mikesmithfl
    mikesmithfl

    Reply 1 year ago

    That might be tricky - carnitas literally means 'little meat'.
    So, you might be able to use some of the new 'alternate' to meat products... ?

    I found some with google - using mushrooms or hearts of palm or jackfruit. I've never tried it myself, though.