If you can get your hands on some pork shoulder, you can make these carnitas. Carnitas have always seemed to me like they’d be too complex to make at home – a lot of recipes require boiling in lard, which is something I don’t often do – but these don’t need it at all. Here, all you need is a roasting dish, into which you can put some cubed up pork shoulder with some citrus, aromatics and spices, and then slow roast them all in the oven for three and a half hours. The pork slowly lets off its own fat and stews in it, and about an hour before it’s done roasting, fills the house with the glorious smell of braising pork, garlic, orange, cinnamon, and onion.
All that’s left to do is strain off most of the liquid, shred up the meat, and broil it for about ten minutes so that it gets crispy and charred on top but stays tender and juicy on the inside. Then into the tacos it goes, showered with some chopped white onion, cilantro, and hot sauce on top. It’s really a beautiful thing.
So if you’re stuck inside at home on a chilly weekend, you can at least be stuck inside with slow roasting homemade carnitas. Because these are incredibly easy to make, and all it takes is a little time. I was amazed that something that tasted so complex could come out of my own kitchen.
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (also called pork butt), rind removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 medium orange, quartered
- 6 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and cut in half
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- 24 corn Tortillas
- Suggested toppings: Chopped raw onion, cilantro, hot sauce, limes for squeezing, salsa
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Season the 2-inch chunks of pork with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Place the chunks in a 9×13 inch pan (I used a glass pan) and ensure that all chunks are in an even layer. Squeeze the juice of the orange over the meat and then place the orange pieces in with the pork chunks, nestling them in. Press the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick in as well, making everything into a somewhat even layer (its okay if some chunks stick out a little more). Evenly pour the oil over the top of the mixture, then cover the dish tightly with tin foil.
- Place into the oven and roast for 3 ½ hours.
- Remove pan from the oven and discard the orange, onion, garlic, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Set up a strainer over a large bowl, and then carefully take the pan of pork and pour the entire thing into the mesh strainer. Allow to drain for 10 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the pork chunks back to the baking dish. Shred the pork up with two forks or with your hands if it isn’t too hot. Pork should be in bite-sized chunks, shredded up.
- Using a spoon or a fat separator, drizzle some of the fat that has risen to the top of the strained liquid back onto the pork.
- Set the oven to broil on high, and place an oven rack so that it is 4 or 5 inches away from the broiler. Broil the shredded pork about 5-6 minutes or until crisped and browned on top. Stir it, and then return to broiler again for another 5 minutes.
- While the pork cooks, heat up tortillas or chop white onion and cilantro to use for toppings. When pork is done broiling, serve.