Pork Carnitas

Pork carnitas better than your local taco truck

Here in Southern California, food trucks are really popular. But when I see one I always wonder, "What happens when the people on the truck have to use the restroom? Do they shoo away their patrons and burn rubber to the nearest gas station? Or do they simply avoid fluids until the day is done? And the food being served -- is it safe? If I eat something from a food truck and die, will I be able to find and sue the proprietors?" O_o

Okay, I admit it: Aside from being silly, I am sometimes way too paranoid.

I also admit that some of the best pork carnitas I've ever eaten were from a taco truck. However, with the recipe featured here, you can make carnitas as good as any restaurant or taco truck around. In fact, they'll be better because they'll be homemade. Nothing beats homemade.

Pork Carnitas Recipe

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 2 hours 45 min

Total Time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder butt (aka Boston Butt)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • juice from 3 small limes
  • 4 garlic cloves minced or smashed
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbls of canola or vegetable oil
Pork carnitias recipe ingredients

Ingredients for pork carnitas recipe.

Directions:

  1. Take the pork shoulder butt and cut it into 2 inch chunks. In a large Dutch oven or cast iron pot, preheat the oil and add the pork chunks, salt, cumin and chili powder.  Brown the meat for a few minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Next, add the orange/lime juice, the garlic, and just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, uncovered.
  3. Once the meat has begun to boil, reduce the heat and let the pork simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. At the end of the 2 hours, turn the heat up to medium high to reduce the liquid down to rendered pork fat. This should take approximately 30-45 minutes.
Pork for carnitas boiling in pot

Notice how the liquid is beginning to reduce.

At this point, the carnitas are very tender, but we want some of the meat to caramelize a bit. So let the pork fry long enough to get brown and crispy at the edges. This will add a nice flavor and texture contrast. Stir gently as needed to prevent burning and you're done! Serve with warm corn tortillas, cilantro, fresh salsa, and a wedge of lime.

pork carnitas taco on a plate

Another taco from my pork carnitas recipe.

Below is the printable recipe for your convenience.

Pork Carnitas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Entree, Tacos, Pork
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3 lbs boneless pork shoulder butt (aka Boston Butt)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • juice from 3 small limes
  • 4 garlic cloves minced or smashed
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbls canola or vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Take the pork shoulder butt and cut it into 2 inch chunks. In a large Dutch oven or cast iron pot, preheat the oil and add the pork chunks, salt, cumin and chili powder. Brown the meat for a few minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Next, add the orange/lime juice, the garlic, and just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, uncovered.
  3. Once the meat has begun to boil, reduce the heat and let the pork simmer uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. At the end of the 2 hours, turn the heat up to medium high to reduce the liquid down to rendered pork fat. This should take approximately 30-45 minutes.
 

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