If you want Mexican street food at its finest in a gringo kitchen, these carnitas are not going to let you down. The pork has that perfectly crisp exterior while unleashing perfectly seasoned flavors when chewed on. Really, I may have eaten an entire bowl of just the shredded pork before I even made the pickled onions. So if you want a true Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo, start here, with this perfect pork and build up from there. I did, and I’ll show you how on Thursday.
Or, you could just shove tiny little pico de gallo topped carnitas in your mouth all day. I won’t judge. This makes a big batch…
- 1 (3 1/2 – 4 lbs) boneless pork butt, fat trimmed to 1/8″, cut into 2 chunks
- 2 cups water (more or less)
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 2 tbs lime juice
- 1 teas dried oregano
- 1 teas ground cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 orange, halved
- Toppings: Minced red onion, fresh cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, pico de gallo, sour cream, and lime wedges
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the pork in a Dutch oven with the onion, lime juice, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, 1 teas salt and 1/2 teas pepper. Add the water, it should cover just barely cover the meat.
- Squeeze the juice from the orange into the Dutch oven and throw the spent orange halves in there as well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 2 ours, until meat is easily shredded with two forks, flipping the meat once half way though cook time.
- Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and discard the onion, bay leaves, and orange. Place pot over high heat and simmer the liquid stirring occasionally until it leaves a trail when a spatula is run through it and it is thick and syrup like, about 8-12 minutes. It bubbles while cooking so use caution.
- Turn the oven to broil. Shred the pork into bite sized chunks. Fold in the syrup and spread out mixture in a single layer onto an aluminium foil lined baking sheet. Broil on lower middle rack for 5 to 8 minutes, until meat is crispy but not charred. Carefully remove from oven, flip the meat and broil again for 5 to 8 minutes longer.
- Serve carnitas with desired toppings.
Cook’s Illustrated Mexican Favorites