I think I’ve done it! I think I’ve perfected a carnitas recipe. Here it is, for your enjoyment.
What you’ll need:
- Pork butt (actually the shoulder), 4-5 pounds
- Diced onion (one large or two small)
- 2-3 diced jalapenos
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic
- Orange juice
- Bay leaf
- Cinnamon stick
- 1T dried smoked chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
What to do:
- Cut the pork butt into 3-4 inch chunks. Trim excess fat if you want to.
- Rub the pork thoroughly with salt and black pepper. Do this an hour or more in advance if you can, but it’s not imperative.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or roasting pan over medium heat. Brown the pork chunks on each side. You can do this in multiple batches if necessary.
- Remove the pork and let drain on paper towels.
- Saute the onion, garlic, chili powder, and jalapeno in the pork fat.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- When onions are translucent and the jalapeno is soft, add a cup of water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a soft spatula to deglaze.
- Return the pork to the roasting pan/Dutch oven.
- Add orange juice until the pork is mostly covered.
- Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, another 3-4 grinds of black pepper and another tablespoon of salt.
- Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Place the pan/Dutch oven in the oven and braise, uncovered, for about 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender and falls apart and the liquid has reduced. Carefully rotate the meat in the pan every 30-45 minutes.
- When the meat is ready, remove the pan from the oven and remove the meat from the pan with tongs and place in a bowl.
- After the meat has cooled sufficiently, pull the pork apart. I like to use a pair of forks, but fingers are good too.
- Spread as much meat as you want to serve into an oiled sheet pan. Spoon roasting liquid over the meat. Refrigerate any leftover meat and roasting liquid.
- Broil the meat in the oven on high for 5 minutes until brown and crispy.
- Serve with beans and rice, tortillas, avocado or, really, whatever you want.
That’s it! It takes a while to cook but it’s mostly hands-off and very delicious. What I love about this recipe is you can store the leftovers in the fridge and just broil small batches whenever you want to. One 4 pound pork butt can last two people several days.