Carnitas - Slow roasted Mexican Pulled Pork
I love Carnitas, especially Carnitas Fajitas! Carnitas is a Mexican slow roasted pork shoulder that is so tender that you can pull the meat apart with a fork. It can be used in all kinds of Mexican dishes; burritos, fajitas, nachos, tacos, enchiladas, and soups to name a few.
Most people will use a slow cooker to make Carnitas, but I don't have one, so I slow roast it in the oven. It is time consuming, but the good news is that it literally does not require any work, you just put it in the oven and forget about it. If you wanted to have it on a Friday night you could cook it on Thursday night and let it rest overnight in the juices. Than all you need to do on Friday was the shred and broil.
I cook about four pounds of pork, which can feed at least 8 people, and If I am feeding less people I have leftovers to freeze for a later use.
Here is how I do it:
1. Add all the spices and salt to a large oven proof dish or a Dutch Oven and mix them together. Add the juices, bay leaf and crushed garlic and stir.
2. 1. Rince the bone in pork shoulder (called Butt in the U.S.A.), and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut off most of the fat, but make sure to leave some of the fat. You can use other pork meat if you can't find the bone in pork shoulder, but if it does'nt have the bone in, it might not be quite as juicy. Add the pork to the spices and juices, then place the onion wedges around/on the sides of the meat. Cover tightly using a lid or aluminum foil.
3. Set the oven to 275°F and once heated put the dish in the oven and cook for 3 to 3.5 hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 45 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes. This ensures that the juices goes back into the meat and does not become dry.
4. Move the pork onto a large baking dish or oven tray and shred the meat using two forks (pull apart the meat). Use a large spoon or a ladle to spoon some of the juices over the meat. You would want all the meat to have a good coat of juice, but you don't want so much that the meat is floating or swimming in juice. If you are making fajitas make sure you reserve a little of the juices for the bell peppers and onions.
5. Set you oven to high and broil the shredded meat with juices for 5-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want it. Alternately you can use a frying pan and fry it in batches with some of the juices.
Now you can enjoy the Carnitas! I love making fajitas with Carnitas. For that I reserve a little bit of the juices from the pork. Fajitas usually consists of warm soft flour or corn tortillas, topped with any kind of meat, fish or shrimp and fried onion and bell peppers.
To make Fajitas I slice a white or yellow onion into wedges and stir fry it with some canola oil. When it starts to get golden I add one red and one green julienned bell pepper and stir fry for a little longer until they start to get tender. Then I add some of the Carnitas juices to add flavor and continue to stir fry until the juices have evaporated.
I serve the fajitas with sour cream, guacamole and a little home made salsa with lots of coriander.
If I have any carnitas leftover, I freeze it for another time.
Here is what you need for the Carnitas:
4 lbs. bone in pork shoulder (called Butt in the U.S.A.)
2 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. chilli powder
4 tsp. kosher salt (or regular)
1 tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
1 large white or yellow onion, cut into wedges
1 jalapeno or other spicy pepper, sliced
2 bay leaves
8 cloves garlic, crushed
2 limes, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
3/4 cup liquid (such as water, chicken broth, coke, or tequila - I use chicken broth because I don't like it sweet at all)
Fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
Here is what you need to make Carnitas Fajitas:
1 white or yellow onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
Hot sauce (optional)