Noshing on Pork Carnitas
I’m so excited to announce today’s guest post. Vijay and I “met” through twitter, as most “blogships” happen these days. Vijay is a pro in the kitchen and online, so I hurried to sign up for NoshOn.It where I receive newsletters with amazing recipes and cooking tips according to my interests. It’s pretty much awesome, and you should probably sign yourself up too. Oh, and I’ve totally had this pork, it’s to die for.
And moving on to that which is delicious, here’s Vijay to tell you more…
My name is Vijay and I’m the Editor and “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, a daily email to inspire you to cook just a little bit better each and every day. We feature hand-picked recipes and expert cooking tips from amazing up-and-coming bloggers so you don’t have to think about what to make for dinner. If you want to try out our emails, just head over here: http://www.noshon.it
For some reason, during this time of year, I can’t seem to get the song “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner out of my head. Do you remember it? Any other 1980s power ballad lovers out there? It went something like this: I want to know what love is / I want you to show me / I want to feel what love is / I know you can show me / Aaaah woah-oh-ooh.
Well, I want to show you what my idea of love is…and it’s called Pork Carnitas with Pickled Red Onions.
Chunks of pork shoulder are slow cooked in the oven until they render out and start frying in their own fat, turning them fall-apart tender and crispy on the edges. It’s salty, sticky, savory, and just a little sweet. Stuffed into a couple of tortillas with the tangy bite of the pickled onions to offset the richness of the pork, this really is my my perfect meal. And I can almost promise that it will make you go Aaaah woah-oh-ooh!
There’s something about the combination of flavors and textures that really makes it irresistible. After a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and cumin, toss in a few chunks of onions and garlic for extra flavor and pour over a mixture of orange juice and chicken broth until the liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the side of the pork.
As the hours progress, something magical happens. The liquids start to evaporate with the sweetness and acidity of the orange juice infusing into the meat. As the pork braises, the fat renders out so the meat essentially fries in it’s own fat. Now let’s be real. How bad can that be?
Crispy on the outside, meltingly tender on the inside and filled with smoky, sweet, and savory flavors. The first time I made these carnitas, I was actually really surprised how just a few ingredients could turn into something this good! When you shred the pork, you’re left with little crunchy bits (my favorite part) mixed in with the meat. A texture and flavor sensation.
I like to serve these in a DIY taco bar with warm corn tortillas (doubled up for extra sturdiness), slices of avocado, pickled red onions, a squeeze of lime, and some cilantro. You can of course use whatever taco accompaniments that you love (salsa verde is especially good).
- ½ large red onion, cut into thin slices
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt, pork shoulder roast)
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup water or chicken broth
- ½ medium yellow onion, cut into small pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp ground cumin powder
- 1 tbsp salt and ½ tbsp pepper (or to taste)
- To make the pickled onions: Add all of the juices, sugar, and salt to a jar and shake to combine. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the onions, cooking for 20-30 seconds to soften. Drain and add to the jar of liquid while still warm. Cover, shake, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (but it's better after 4).
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Cut pork into 3" chunks, discarding any big pieces of connective tissue, but keeping all of the fat.
- In a large, wide oven-proof pot, dutch oven, or cast iron skillet, put the pork chunks into 1 layer.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin powder. Scatter the garlic and onions on top.
- On the side, combine orange juice and chicken broth (or water). Pour over the pork until ¾ submerged. You want to be able to see pork on the top so you may not use all of the liquid. Pour over the vegetable oil.
- Place pot into oven on middle rack or so there is even space all around it.
- Let cook for 4-5 hours, checking every 30 minutes or so. It should take about 1.5 hours for the liquid to start simmering and the fat to start rendering out of the pork. After 1.5 hours, if the liquid is not simmering, turn up the oven by 50 degrees to kick start the process then turn it back down after it is simmering. Turn the pieces over every 30 minutes. Eventually, you want the pork to be frying in its own fat with some of the liquid reduced. If it looks too dry, add some more chicken broth/water or OJ. Keep checking it with 2 forks to see how easily it pulls apart. When it falls apart, it is done. But make sure the fat has rendered out! The one thing you don't want is a bit chunk of fat on top of the pieces of pork.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly then shred with 2 forks or tongs, adding a bit of orange juice if it looks too dry.
- Serve with corn tortillas, pickled red onions, slices of avocado, or your favorite taco toppings.
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