Let me just tell you, this recipe for carnitas from Mark’s Daily Apple is my new favorite way of making pork. Not only is it slow-cooked, tender perfection, it also has the added deliciousness of caramelization and perfectly browned and crisp ends – my favorite part of carnitas. It’s hard not to eat massive amounts of it straight off the pan – for both the cook and those that witness it coming it out of the oven!
The trick to moist, tender, crisp carnitas (I know it doesn’t sound like that can all happen at the same time but trust me, it can. And it’s perfection). First you braise the meat in a wee bit of liquid to get it moist and tender. Once all the water is gone, then the caramelization of the fat takes over and gives you those delectable crispy bits. My mouth is watering as I type this.
Both John and I LOVE this dish. Like, really love it. I highly recommend it. And it makes a bunch so it’s great for a big group or even better, for a small group and lots of leftovers :)
- 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder/butt cut into five pieces. You can trim off a little bit of the fat or leave it all on. (1.4 to 1.8 kg)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (7 ml)
- 1 teaspoon cumin (5 ml)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (5 ml)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped or thinly sliced
- Water, for braising
Preheat the oven to 350 ºF (177 ºC).
Mix together the salt, cumin and chili powder and rub all over the meat.
Place the meat in a large, heavy pot with the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic and onion. Ideally, the pot is large enough so that the meat is in a single layer. Add enough water to almost, but not entirely, cover the meat.
Put the pot in the oven, uncovered, and braise for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Stir the meat just a few times while it cooks. You’ll know the pork is done when it’s really tender, slightly browned and most of the liquid is gone.
Remove the pot from the oven and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Shred the pork with two forks (or your hands if you so desire).
Return the pot (with the pork shredded) to the oven.
Roast the meat, mixing occasionally, until the meat is as dark and crispy as you like it.
I like to spread the meat out on a baking sheet with the remaining liquid to speed up the process and get more crispy bits. If you’re in a hurry, you can put it under the broiler for a few minutes, too.
Carnitas crock-pot option
This technique also works if you cook the pork in a crock-pot. When I do it in the crock-pot I don’t add any liquid (that’s right – NO LIQUID, trust me) and cook it on low for 8-10 hours. Then just dump the crock-pot contents on the sheet and roast.
Try not to eat all of the pork off the pan before you serve it!
Thanks for reading my post :)