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Carnitas are pieces of pork meat slow-cooked in copper cauldrons in an open fire. Usually, most parts of the pork will be used, some will be cooked until tender, juicy and golden outside and other parts of the pork will be cooked until very crispy like chicharrones (pork skin). To cook carnitas at home is a very easy task. There are lots of recipes that use herbs, and some of them even add milk or orange rind. And, of course, they can be added. But, as a friend of mine from Quiroga, Michoacán (a small town famous for its carnitas) told me some time ago: “People here just add salt, lard, and the pork meat”. Those carnitas are one of best! This dish is best eaten when still warm over corn tortillas and a spicy or mild salsa.
I have two ways to cooks carnitas: One is using a cast iron pot over the stove and the other way is baking the pork using an oven bag. The reason of cooking it in an oven bag is because I live in a small apartment and cooking it in the bag will keep the grease smell contained in the bag. Please note that this is not the traditional way to cook Carnitas, but rather just an alternate method I developed in absence of a copper cauldron and to avoid the greasy smell.
This recipe serves 6 as a main dish
- 2 Lbs. pork loin and pork butt in large cubes about 2 inches.
- 1 cup of Lard (vegetable oil is OK)
- About 6-8 cups of water enough to cover the meat
- 1 Tablespoon of salt
- Optional: 3 cloves of garlic
1. In a large Dutch oven or Cast Iron Pot place the pork, lard, water, garlic, and salt. Cook covered on a medium heat to a boil. Reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes until pork is almost tender.
2. Uncover and turn the heat to medium high to reduce the liquid.The meat will start frying in its own fat and lard at this point. Carefully brown the meat at medium low heat stirring frequently until pork is evenly browned. About 15 to 20 minutes. At this point do not over cook or you will get very dry meat.
Serve with hot tortillas and green salsa.
1. Place the meat, 1/4 cup lard, 1 cup of water and 1 Tablespoon of salt in an Oven Bag, cook in a preheated oven at 350 for 2 hours. I place this package on a baking sheet or glass baking ware.
2. Take the bag out of the oven to drain must of the juices released by the meat, close the bag and place back in the oven for another hour or so until the meat is golden brown, using this method the meat will be tender and juicy.
What is your favorite way to eat carnitas?