Carnitas

When we go out for Mexican, I almost always order these golden bits of piggy goodness. I kept trying to make them at home, but had a hard time duplicating the combination of crispness and tenderness that really makes this dish work so well.

Truly authentic versions slowly fry the pork in lard. This recipe uses a kind of reverse braise to achieve a very similar and tasty result.

I like making this in a Dutch oven on the Big Green Egg. You could do this recipe in the oven or on the stove, but then you’re missing out on all the wonderful flavor that wood smoke brings to the party.

Ingredients

4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (aka Boston Butt)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Directions

Set your grill up for at least a three hour cook over indirect heat at 300°F. I used a little oak for smoke.

Cut pork into chucks, discarding any big pieces of connective tissue, but keeping all of the fat. The size of the chunks depends on how you like your carnitas. We like them fine and crispy, so I cut the meat into 2-inch pieces. Cut them larger if you like yours big and tender.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven with a lid. If necessary, add more broth or water so that the pork is just covered in liquid.

Put the covered pot on the grill and let simmer until pork is tender, stirring occasionally, about an hour and a half, adding more water if necessary to keep pork partially submerged. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Uncover the pot and continue cooking until liquid evaporates and the meat begins to brown. If there’s not enough fat rendered from the pork, add another 1/4 cup peanut oil. Continue cooking until the meat starts to get crisp. Check and stir about every 15 minutes until the meat is crispy, but not dry or burned.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Cool the meat slightly and discard any pieces of fat or gristle.

Serve with warm corn tortillas, salsa, diced onions, and guacamole.

6 thoughts on “Carnitas”

  1. Man you rock for posting this. I have a lodge cowboy dutch oven for which I’ve been looking for ideas. You just put yours on the Egg with plate setter legs up? What kind of temps were you running in the egg to make it work?

  2. You are most welcome.

    I went 300°F dome temp for the whole cook. I put the plate setter in legs up, then a cast iron trivet, then the Dutch oven. The trivet helps to prevent scorching as the liquid evaporates.

    Let us know how they turn out.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I particularly like the fact that this recipe is non-lardified, and also flexible enough that your readers can cook it on a few different types of heat sources.

    I’m new to your blog and really enjoying reading you!

    Dan
    Casual Kitchen

  4. i made this recipe yesterday afternoon – i did it on the stove top in a large cast iron dutch oven. it was PHENOMENAL. what a great recipe!!! the carnitas were richer than anything i’ve ever had in a restaurant. thanks so much for the great idea and fantastic recipe.

  5. Thanks – they didn’t even last the week around our house. I think we had carnitas every other night until they were gone.

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